After letting the Gio Gonzales trade digest for a few weeks, I’m finally ready to talk about it, as well as some recent thoughts about Prince Fielder. When I first learned of the Gonzales trade, I was pretty disappointed. My main reason being, why trade away prospects that you’ve drafted and developed, and who have seen some early success in the major leagues? You could just as easily sign a free agent, and still keep your prospects! Trades make sense during pennant races. I get it. But ones like this disappoint me. The simple reason for this trade though, is money. The Nats control Gonzales for several more seasons, and they will have to pay him far less, even after arbitration, than they would have had to pay a C.J. Wilson type player. (and I’m not saying I really liked Wilson as a solution here).
However, if it turns out that the Nationals are truly serious about signing Fielder (today’s wildly conflicting reports notwithstanding), then the Gio trade makes good sense to me, because we’d be truly ready to contend this year. I’m usually one to temper people’s enthusiasm over the Nats’ 2012 playoff prospects, if only because the Phillies are still the Phillies, the Braves are the Braves, and the Marlins signed some huge free agents. That all being said, if we sign Fielder, I may jump on the playoff bandwagon for this season. The protection he would give to other hitters in the lineup, not to mention his flat-out production, would be amazing. I truly hope they can pull this off. And I don’t mean a 10 year contract where we will eat the last 4 years of it. How about a 6-7 year deal, where we’ll only need to eat the final year of it?
There are people who are saying that if we sign him, we can’t sign 2-3 of our other core players. This is absolutely not true. It’s not an either/or situation. That’s totally up to the Lerners and how much money they would like to spend. While I certainly would not like to be a foolish spender on overpriced free agents, you can’t argue with the success of a team like the Yankees, who sign the players they want no matter what it takes. The result is that they’ve been to the playoffs 16 out of the past 17 seasons. It’s hard to poke a hole in that kind of success. I’m not saying they are perfect or should be our model by any means. But you don’t have to budget for just one or two big contracts. You can invest more money at your discretion and the team, franchise, fans and owners can all be winners.