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Red Sox were right to back out of Adrian Gonzalez trade

Dec 5, 2010, 5:34 PM EDT

San Diego Padres v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

When SI.com’s Jon Heyman first reported that the trade designed to send Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox was killed by a contract dispute, my reaction was: “Wow, that’s crazy.”

But it’s not crazy.  Not at all.

In fact, both sides were right to balk.

Adrian Gonzalez hit .298/.393/.511 this past season with 31 home runs and 101 RBI while playing solid defense at the first base position.  He’s 28 years old, talented as any first baseman in the league not named Pujols and looking to cash in on his impending free agency.

So when the Red Sox made a mandate Saturday that Gonzalez sign a long-term contract extension before finalizing the blockbuster five-player trade, he asked for a deal similar to the eight-year, $180 million behemoth that Mark Teixeira signed in December of 2008 with the Yankees.

Remember, the Red Sox helped drive up that Teixeira contract.  But they’re not wrong for choosing to not pay it now.

Gonzalez will be a free agent next winter and the Yankees already have a body at first base.  The Red Sox can wait another year, enter the highest bid against little competition, and get their man without offering up four quality prospects.

This baby was doomed from the start.

Intelligent baseball clubs usually work cautiously and pay attention to all the details.  The Sox employ some of the top minds in the game and were right to stay level-headed in negotiations.  They’ll bring Gonzalez aboard next year and keep their farm system from being depleted.

  1. Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 5, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    Drew,

    I have to politely disagree. The Sox HAD TO KNOW about the range that Gonzalez was going to demand because, well, we ALL knew what Gonzalez was going to demand. If they thought it was exorbidant, they shouldn’t have pulled the trigger, PERIOD.

    No matter what, it seems like a huge tactical mistake to have let the deal go this far and not close the deal.

    • Drew Silva - Dec 5, 2010 at 5:41 PM

      Gonzalez was pretty generous with the Padres on his first deal. I bet the Sawx thought he’d agree to something like Howard’s deal.

      And I’m not sure the Red Sox really care about the PR hit.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:07 PM

        They may not care now, but they may if they miss the post season 2 years in a row. Especially if they get off to the same kind of start that they did last year. I know they have players coming back from injuries but a good chunk of their 2010 offense is gone right now (VMart & Beltre) that’s a lot of HR’s and RBI’s.

      • Glenn - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:35 PM

        But Youkilis, Pedroia, and Ellsbury will be back, plus the Rays are going to be losing a lot this winter.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:53 PM

        To Glen – Of course you’re right. But that’s still a lot of offense to lose (VMart & Beltre) and at this point have no replacements. Also, keep in mind the Blue Jays and even Baltimore are not going to be the doormats they have been in the past next year. Are they going to win or even come in 2nd in the AL East not likely, but are are probably going to win a lot more games then they have in the past.

  2. crankyfrankie - Dec 5, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    Good move by the Sox. They were, kind of, in a situation they were bidding against themselves. They’ll sign him next season after getting a good look at the shoulder especially since he’ll be carrying the Padres on his back.

    • alara07 - Dec 5, 2010 at 5:55 PM

      I agree with Cranky, Redsox can wait it out without losing prospects. At the same time can pay lower rate of pay for Adrian when he hits market against Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. Smart move Sox.

  3. baymun10 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    I completely disagree. This sentiment assumes that only two parties are involved in the decision making process: the red sox and Adrian Gonzalez. But there’s a third party, which is the San Diego Padres and I can’t see them standing by and waiting to just lose this guy to free agency without getting anything proven in return. Whether or not the Sox want to make the move, there will be plenty of in-contention teams that will be willing to part ways with valuable prospects at the trade deadline in July. Similar to how the Rangers gave up their top prospect for Lee, even without having him guaranteed for the future. The Red Sox have coveted this guy for a long time and he’s right in front of them now. I just don’t think that it’s wise to bank on this guy actually being there when free agency begins next year. There’s a good chance that that won’t come to fruition.

    • fquaye149 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:08 PM

      If Gonzalez wouldn’t sign a team friendly extension now, why would he sign it after a half season for a “contender” next year? Cliff Lee is a free agent right now because that’s what happens when star players’ contracts run out. They become free agents. I don’t think there’s any reason to think that Gonzalez won’t be around come free agent time next year since this deal going sour seems to suggest that he’s absolutely uninterested in signing an extension. And who could blame him?

      • baymun10 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:15 PM

        True, but IF he plays half of a season for a contender that gives up top prospects for him, they will be heavily involved in bidding for his services at the end of that season, which could make him much more expensive and I doubt they would be in a situation where they could bid “with little competition” as the article suggests.

    • paperlions - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:20 PM

      Except that NO ONE ELSE has the prospects, need, and money to deal for Gonzalez. If SD does deal him, whoever it is isn’t going to sign him to that kind of extension. The fact that Gonzalez is asking for that type of years and money indicates that he fully intends to test the FA market….why would Boston (or any team) pay for a player twice, when they can wait a year and just pay once?

  4. heiniemanush - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:13 PM

    Ortiz at first, Youk at third, Drew at DH and Salty/Varitek behind the plate in ’11. It’s all good.

    • jeremysgordon - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:27 PM

      not gonna happen.

      • heiniemanush - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:34 PM

        OK , Felipe Lopez or Rico Petrocelli at third, Youk at first, Ortiz at DH and Drew in the outfield. Bring back Zim to manage these guys and I guarantee 85 wins.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:32 PM

      You’re kidding about Ortiz playing 1st base full time aren’t you? Over the last 4 years he has played exactly 17 games at 1st base.

  5. bobulated - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    The Sox will only pay more next year on the open market. Essentially they were trading prospects for exclusive negotiations. Now they will be competing against other teams for a prized and proven commodity and there is no guarantee they will be prohibitive favorites to sign Gonzalez

    • paperlions - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:22 PM

      Who are these teams that have $200M to spend and a gaping hole at 1B?

      • uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:46 PM

        Two that come to mind that should have money next year, Seattle and Texas. I’m not that familiar with either team but it appears Gonzalez would be an upgrade over what they currently have at 1st base. Texas should have more then enough money especially if they miss out on Lee. Like I said it only takes one other team to be in competition with Boston to drive up the price. It’s $200M all at once it’s probably going to cost about $20M+/- per for 7 years.

      • bobulated - Dec 6, 2010 at 5:17 PM

        I think the Giants might also think Mr. Gonzalez is a slight upgrade over Aubrey Huff.

  6. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    The unstated reason the trade fell through is Gonzalez’s shoulder. After the physical, the Sox said thanks but no thanks. Of course, the Red Sox could not say anything about the physical condition of a player not on their team. Fantasy players beware, the shoulder is MUCH worst than is let on.

    • JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:30 PM

      And you know this… how?

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:45 PM

        Let’s see, Gonzalez had a shoulder operation. Knowing that and knowing what Gonzalez’s salary demands were the Sox make the trade pending a physical. Gonzalez takes a physical. The deal is suddenly off because he wants too much money? The Red Sox can’t say anything about the physical. Two plus two equals four.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:47 PM

        One last point, this season watch his power numbers drop. That will be the final piece of proof.

      • JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:22 PM

        “That will be the final piece of proof”

        I think you mean the first piece of proof. Because what you’ve got now is speculation at best.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 8:12 PM

        BTW, the whole article is pure speculation based on NO facts (it is what HBT does, entertainment at its best).

        Facts we know now:
        1. The Red Sox backed out of the trade for some unknown reason (there has been no “official” word from Boston on the trade period).
        2. The Red Sox have been trying to get Gonzalez since last winter.
        3. The Red Sox put up four players.
        4. The Red Sox knew it would take big bucks to sign him to an extension.
        5. Jon Heyman says the deal is done (so, his sources told him it is completed and working on the contract would not be an issue).
        6. Gonzalez takes a physical for Boston after having shoulder surgery.
        7. The deal is off.

        So why do you think the deal was undone? Contract issues? Very unlikely considering how hard the Sox have gone after him. Medical issue? Much more likely. This isn’t speculation, it is an analysis of the facts.

        Finally, if anyone with Boston was to hint to blogger that there was a physical problem with Gonzalez, HIPAA fines could run into the hundreds of millions on these kinds of things.

    • bigharold - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:50 PM

      “Two plus two equals four.”

      Except, that the RS had his medical records before the deal was made. It seems like the RS just got cheap, .. again.

      • JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:23 PM

        If the Red Sox are cheap, they’re not very good at it. $168m payroll last year.

      • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 8:18 PM

        Medical records, but not an exam. The records show the surgery was successful, not how bad his shoulder is at the moment. That ’69 Mustang and its service history might look good on the Internet, but when you actually see the car you might have second thoughts, particular is the Mustang is $90K. That is probably what happened. The team doctors looked at it and said you don’t want this used car.

    • shaggylocks - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:38 PM

      Of course the Red Sox could have said something after the physical. That happens all the time in trades. Remember when the Sox tried to trade Mike Lowell to the Rangers, and the physical turned up a thumb injury? Your whole argument is based on a false premise.

  7. uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Why do some fans and some sports writers assume that the market for Gonzalez at the end of the 2011 season will just be the Red Sox. Therefore enabling them to get Gonzalez at a “bargain”. That’s absurd. Sure Pujols and Fielder will be on the market as well but the chances of Pujols signing anywhere but St. Louis are next to zero. So that will leave just Fielder to compete with Gonzalez in the marketplace. Given that, my monies on Gonzalez being the most sought after of the two. What people need to keep in mind it only takes one other team to drive up the price. Also, does anyone really think that Gonzalez will be content to sign for anything less both in years and dollars then Werth just signed for. Include now what he will see both Crawford and Lee sign for at some point and my guess is next year 7 years $140M will be the least he will sign for. That’s just my opinion.

  8. bigharold - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:32 PM

    The line of thought that the RS were intelligent in not doing the trade ignores two very real issues;

    1. The RS need corner infielder help NOW. If Beltre is signed to fill the corner infielder deficit then that precludes trading for Gonzalez in the future. If he’s not that leaves the RS still on that bridge.

    2. The Padres might well trade him to a team that in fact signs him before he ever gets to FA.

    The RS continue to display a clear pattern of refusing to sign top tier talent. That unwillingness has to be bothersome if you are a member of the Nation. If you are a top tier FA that is going to factor into you strategy, as in you stop thinking of the RS as an option.

    Maybe the Yankees can trade for Gonzalez and use him as a DH, 4th infielder. What he’ll cost in 2011 will be relatively cheap. And, after Posada retires there will be plenty of playing time for both Teixeira and Gonzalez.

    Whatever the case, the RS were in the driver seat until they decided to get another case of deep pockets and short arms.

    • jjschiller - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:04 PM

      The Red Sox spent 168 million dollars on the major league roster last year.

  9. marinermousse - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    This is clearly not a black/white situation. Both sides have risks and rewards, but I think the risks are greater to Gonzales and thus he if the one who should probably show a bit more flexibility. He has a team who is willing to give up a nice chunk of future prospects to acquire him, and is also willing to pay him “fair market” value for 5 or 6 years.

    From the Red Sox perspective, I agree that this is not a “make or break” deal as they will still be fielding a pretty impressive team and having Adam LaRoche at 1B will only cost them $7 or $8mm for one year and he will give them 25HR and 100RBI with decent BA. It does hamstring them a bit in terms of signing Beltre though, if they still have designs on Gonzalez for next year since that would leave them with Youk, AGon and Beltre for long term and none of those three should be DH materials as they are all top gloves.

    From Agon’s perspective, he has a chance to control his fate right here and now. He can go to a top-notch winning team that has always shown willingness to spend money to be competitive. He can get the “Howard” or even Texeira money for 5 or 6 years, which will still leave him at 33 or 34 for the next go-around. He is coming off shoulder surgery….and should he come out of the chute slowly, or should Petco continue to suppress his production, he might find that he will not even do as well come next fall/winter. The big$$ teams are set at 1B for quite a while. The Tigers have Miggy; Yankees have Tex, Angels have Morales, Cards have Albert etc…so unlikely to be a furious bidding war next fall fueled by several teams absolutely craving his services. Of course this works both ways as it also would mean the Red Sox would once again be able to go after him and perhaps put a good contract in front of him. But, as they say….shix happens…look at Werth and the Nationals. If the Red Sox are adamant about not going longer than 6 years with any player, there just might be anther team who comes along and says, OK….8 years is fine with us.

    If I were Agon I would take the money….avoid the risk of sub-par 2011….run with a winning team and not look back. If I were the Red Sox I would cap at 6 years, since that seems to be very important to them and somehow show flexibility in other areas (percs, vesting option for 7th year?, ) If I am the Padres I keep my fingers crossed because this is as good a package as they will ever get for him.

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:50 PM

      If all you said is true, then you the heck did the Red Sox even want to make the trade? Giving up 4 players for him didn’t stop him. The fact that he would be expensive didn’t stop the trade. But, suddenly, after the physical the deal if off.

      • marinermousse - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

        I think you tried to say that before and it doesn’t carry any water as he had the physical much earlier in the process and the negotiations continued for a long time after.

      • bigharold - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:58 PM

        Perhaps the RS thought, as was widely reported, that Gonzalez was looking for a “Howard” type deal, 7yr/125 mil, and then found out that he was looking for Teixeria money.

        The RS don’t do 7-8 year deals. And the next time the current owners sign a 100 milllion dollar contract will be the first time.

  10. jjschiller - Dec 5, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Yeah, Drew, the problem is, the Sox need a corner infielder for this coming season, and they aren’t likely to find a free-agent worth having that will sign a one year deal. Unless you think their going after someone in the Troy Glaus category… Maybe they re-up Lowell, haha. Perhaps Derrek Lee’s market falls that low.

    Or are the Sox going to give up prospects for some OTHER corner infielder a year away from free-agency, and NOT work out a contract with him, blindly hoping Gonzalez will sign with them next season?

    I think when this off-season is over, the Red Sox will have Youkilis and some other corner IF both on multi-year deals, making them a non-bidder for Gonzalez next offseason. And that combo is unlikely to be as good as Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis.

    Meanwhile, Gonzalez will enter free-agency as a slugging first baseman, potentially with Pujols and Fielder on the market, and with the Yankees and Red Sox all full at his position, limiting his market to teams like the Angels, the Cubs, the Mariners, etc. Maybe the suddenly free-spending Nats?

    Either way, I think both parties are WORSE off for not working out a deal.

  11. jfk69 - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:09 PM

    THEO
    MERRY CHRISTMAS
    two lumps of coal for you epstein
    good luck with your new first baseman
    dh/old papi

    Thank you Boston

    The Steinbrenners

  12. paperlions - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:27 PM

    No one is assuming that the market next year will be only Boston…but who else will there be that will spend more than Boston or that would offer a Texiera-type contract Gonzalez is said to be seeking. The answer appears to be no one. The point is not that Gonzalez will be cheap, he won’t be…the point is that they can sign him next year without giving up 4 top prospects…plus, they will have much more information about the condition of his shoulder.
    .
    At some point, players will start to understand that citing contracts the Yankees give out is not a viable starting point…unless you want to sign with the Yankees.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:48 PM

      I guess the only response that I or anyone else can make to your comment is who would have thought the the Nationals would offer a 32 year old 4 years and $126M. So appearances can be deceiving. But you are correct in that if the Sox want to sign Gonzalez after the season they won’t have to part with any “prospects”. But I recall someone on another piece saying most prospects don’t pan out. That being the case how much were the Sox really giving up in the trade for one of the premier 1st basemen in baseball?

  13. Glenn - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:50 PM

    The Sox aren’t over a barrel here. Jed Lowrie can play third base and Ortiz’ contract is up next year. Lowrie’s injuries have been flukie. No reason to think that he couldn’t put in a solid year in the infield. There is a difference between being cheap and being smart.

  14. JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:53 PM

    Well, nevermind all that garbage:

    Deal is done. A gon headed to #redsox. Press conf expected tomorrow

    • JBerardi - Dec 5, 2010 at 7:54 PM

      Whoa, was not expecting that to happen. Well played, WordPress!

  15. jobooo - Dec 5, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    LOL. Now Drew is going to have to back-pedal and explain how they are STILL smart for having not backed out.

  16. uyf1950 - Dec 5, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    MLB is reporting that even though the agreement won’t be officially announced till April so the Red Sox can avoid going over the luxury tax in 2011. The contract is for 7 years starting in 2012 running through 2018 for $161M ($23M per). His 2011 team option that SD picked up does not change.

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