|Adrian Gonzalez, you are more than welcome to call Wrigley home.|
This is just weird. Adrian Gonzalez is under contract with the San Diego Padres. The Padres have a club option they would be insane not to exercise to keep their Petco-conquering first baseman for 2011 at the ridiculously low price of $5.8 million. He’s in the thick of a pennant race that could see his out-of-nowhere Padres in danger of returning to Nowheresville but well within reach of postseason glory.
I doubt Gonzalez brought it up. But the extent to which he waxed eloquent on the appeal of hitting at Wrigley and playing in Chicago (because playing in front of fans has proved to be of great import recently) went well beyond the norm for non-free-agents in pennant races. Here are all of his quotes from the article snipped together in succession:
There’s definitely a lot of positives about Chicago that if they made an offer, I would be interested in it. . . . Chicago’s a great town, and they have great fans, and I like the fact that it’s a small ballpark. I know the wind can play against you, but it can play for you, too. There’s definitely some positives. And my wife loves Chicago, for the shopping. . . . Castro looks good. He looks like he’s got energy, and a good swing. . . . I know he got hurt, but Tyler Colvin is a guy that’s going to be productive every year. He swings the bat well. . . . Marmol — obviously, their closer’s good. . . . I don’t know what the status of Aramis is, but he’s one of the top third basemen when he’s healthy. They definitely have some good pieces. It’s just a matter of making that right move or drafting that right guy.
That’s a mouthful, but a moot one at this point. The Padres would be fools to relinquish one of the greatest bargains in all of baseball at one of its most important offensive positions . . . or would they?
I’m not going to pretend I know the intentions of the Padres front office, but I do know what happened the last time a small-market, low-budget team with a can’t-miss first baseman and a cavernous home park broke open the champagne at the end of October: they dealt him to the Cubs for Hee Seop Choi.
One year of Adrian Gonzalez is a pretty significant bargaining chip for the San Diego Padres. He doesn’t have a no-trade clause. If he doesn’t re-sign, he’ll be a definite type-A free agent. He’s really, really good at baseball. If the Padres fall short in 2010, there’s very little reason to think they can’t compete in 2011. I can see them hanging on to Gonzalez and giving it another run next year.
But if they win it all, their plans could change significantly. Once their appetite for championships is satiated, they might be much more likely to reshuffle and shop for longterm value. Would you like a Tyler Colvin? An Andrew Cashner? A Josh Vitters? A Starli . . . no, not him. I don’t know who the Padres would be interested in, but I do think the teams Gonzalez is most interested in playing for longterm would be willing to give up the most to get him. I’d also be willing to bet that a World Series title would put the Padres in the mood to deal.