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Reviewing the Gio Gonzalez Trade

May 12, 2014

With the end of this weekend’s series sweep against the visiting Nats and in particularly spoiling Gio’s Oakland return, it seems a good time to revisit his trade to Washington. At the end of the day this trade may be more about Derek Norris or Tommy Milone (in fairness, neither seem particularly likely) but I think it is fair to call it “The Gio Gonzalez Trade”. It was December 23, 2011 and the A’s sent Gio and MiLB player Robert Gilliam to Washington in exchange for A.J. Cole, Milone, Norris and Brad PeacockBaseball America most coveted Peacock at the time, and Milone who has seen the most action as an Athletic was least loved by that publication.

At the time despite Gio being one of my favorite players in Oakland, I lauded the return writing,

“This move should be exciting for all A’s fans. While there are many who are upset over the rebuilding and claim that this rebuilding demonstrates a lack of a “commitment to winning” which I see on all corners of the internet discussion, this move is a clear an unmistakable sign of a rebuild being done the right way as these four players are all people who can contribute in the very near future to a very high caliber club.”

While I stand by that comment, I don’t stand by my closing comment of,

“2012 will most definitely not be a banner year for the A’s, but the future is indeed looking much brighter for the Oakland A’s, Christmas has come early.”

The A’s did raise a banner in 2012 and in 2013. Didn’t see that coming. But how has this deal in particular worked out and how responsible was this deal for getting the A’s there. I don’t really care what happens to the Nats but here is what they’ve received from Gio Gonzalez in two-plus seasons in DC: 72 starts, 442 2/3 innings, a 14th-best in MLB during that time (for pitchers) 8.9 WAR, a 3.21 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 9.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9. Not too shabby. The Nats? 203 wins to just 158 losses and clearly Gio is a big part of that. They have one division championship coming in 2012 (with a very disappointing playoff finish to St. Louis, largely aided by a bizarre decision to bench their best pitcher though that is an issue for a Nats blog to tackle – and they did), despite a disappointing 2013 they still won 86 games and finished second.

The A’s meanwhile have received from Milone 63 starts (65 total games), with a 3.98 ERA, 4.16 FIP in 382 innings of work with 6.7 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 1.3 HR/9, good for 4.2 WAR. Better numbers than I’d have guessed and while they aren’t lights out like Gio Gonzalez if this were a one-for-one trade one could argue the A’s wouldn’t have been creamed in it especially given the disparity in pay between the two. But the A’s didn’t just get Milone, they got Norris whom they still have. Norris meanwhile has put up 3.7 WAR hitting .249/.337/.414 with 20 HRs in 630 plate appearances with a .332 wOBA and 112 wRC+. Milone and Norris are the only ones left in Oakland from the deal and combine for 7.9 WAR, one win short of Gio’s 8.9. But again, the A’s didn’t just get Milone and Norris…

They also got Brad Peacock, and while he did nothing with Oakland at the MLB level, he was a key part of the trade that net Jed Lowrie (4.5 WAR since coming to Oakland). Again though, that’s not all, Cole whom the A’s sent back to DC, also helped the A’s net John Jaso good for 1.8 WAR. So even if you divide the contributions from Jaso and Lowrie since it wasn’t Cole and Peacock exclusively who net them for the A’s, the A’s still look to come out ahead. Four players always offer more opportunity to shine than does one (just the law of numbers) but the A’s picked four good ones in what they either brought to Oakland on the field or in trades.

The A’s shouldn’t and don’t regret this deal, and if you think head to head is the best way to measure things, Norris took Gio deep twice. Enough said. Oh and for those curious, Gilliam, the throw-in, he is in Harrisburg sporting a 5.09 ERA and 6.03 FIP in 17 2/3 innings of work for the Senators. Don’t think he will change the calculus of this trade.

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