The A-Gon trade time bomb

Updated: March 16, 2010, 10:48 AM ET
By 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?