The A-Gon trade time bomb
Updated: March 16, 2010, 10:48 AM ETBy Buster Olney
Last year, six players in the major leagues had a higher OPS than Adrian Gonzalez:
Albert Pujols, who is earning $16 million this season
Joe Mauer, who may soon sign a deal that will fall in the neighborhood of $200 million.
Prince Fielder, who will make $10.5 million this year and perhaps $15 million next year.
Joey Votto, a young player who hasn't gotten paid yet.
Derrek Lee, who is entering the last year of a five-year, $65 million deal.
And Kevin Youkilis, who signed a four-year, $41.5 million contract last year.
The kind of production Gonzalez throws up annually now is extraordinarily expensive. On top of those numbers, consider that he's a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman, a left-handed hitter, and has done his damage in a weak lineup while swinging in a home park that skews heavily toward pitchers.
And over the next two seasons, Gonzalez will make $10.25 million, as he reaches the end of a contract he signed before the 2007 season. The Padres are in line to get Lou Gehrig production at a Wally Pipp price.
Barring an injury or a Warren Buffett purchase of the Padres, Gonzalez will not stay with them beyond his current contract. The slugger is in line to ask for a Mark Teixeira-like contract when he becomes a free agent in 20 months, and it does not make business sense for the Padres to devote one-third to one-half of their entire payroll to one player.
He will be traded, rival evaluators assume. But the question is: When?
For a range of options on what the Padres can and will do with A-Gon, Buster's response to the Pujols-Howard trade connections, a mountain of notes from around camp and much more, you must be an ESPN Insider (and that's not even 10 cents a day).