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Toying with the Adrian Gonzalez Market

This is experimental and I’m not entirely sure I like the formatting, but here we go anyways. Regardless, the chart below shows the collective first base wRAA and UZR for each team. The color scale (greener is good, redder is bad) applied to each column shows their respective standings relative to the rest of the league. For instance, the Cubs and – no shocker here – Padres have strong first base play in both offense and defensive respects, while teams like the Athletics and Diamondbacks could really use an upgrade. I used wRAA instead of wOBA so the run values of each would be present (and represented in the Total category) rather than making everyone translate the wOBA to runs and figure things out from there.

20091b

Now obviously, we’re talking about acquiring Adrian Gonzalez – who was a large part of what looks to be the fourth best first base production in baseball last season. This chart is hardly foretelling of true talent levels, contractual and budget status, farm system depth, and placement on the win curve. Luckily, we can break this down easy enough by using tiers.

Teams that need no upgrade:
Cardinals
Brewers
Yankees
Cubs
Tigers
Phillies

Each of these teams are pretty well set. Maybe if one gets really creative and could make a case for Albert Pujols changing positions and… well let’s not go there. Let’s go ahead and take these six off the board, which leaves 23 suitors. Now, onto the reverse end of the spectrum:

Teams that desperately need an upgrade:
Athletics
Rangers
Diamondbacks
Orioles
Pirates
Dodgers
Giants
Nationals

Just because they need one doesn’t mean they have the goods or ability to add Gonzalez. The A’s, Rangers, Orioles, Dodgers, and Nationals probably do, but at this point the Nats really don’t make sense, the Dodgers and Rangers probably don’t have the cash, and the A’s status as a contender is up in the air. Of these, the Giants, Athletics, Orioles, and Dodgers are probably the only realistic suitors. Minus four.

That leaves 19 teams, and of the rest we can eliminate the Rockies, Marlins, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Astros, Blue Jays, Reds, and probably the Twins given Jason Kubel’s season at DH.

The 10 teams left are:
Giants
Athletics
Orioles
Dodgers
Red Sox
Angels
Mariners
Braves
Mets
Rays

The Rays would have to move Pat Burrell before even discussing Gonzalez, but they have the flexibility to make a move for such an impact player if they so desired. The Mets seem intent to add Bay and probably wouldn’t spare the pieces. The Braves could do it. The Mariners, too. The Angels just added a DH and have Kendry Morales, so it seems unlikely they would go for it. Boston seems like the hot name, while the Dodgers have the aforementioned cash issues. The Orioles are making a run at Matt Holliday and just added Mike Gonzalez as they build for a 2011 run. The A’s and Giants would both make sense and have the pieces, but the Giants seem tentative in adding good players.

That leaves the Mariners, Red Sox, Orioles, Braves, and A’s. The former three have reportedly made inquiries on Gonzalez, which means the process worked – I think. Of those, presumably Boston and Seattle would be favorites given their abilities to package young pitching with young positional players. Those in favor of chaos should be rooting for one of the alphabet soup choices.

My suspicion would be that Gonzalez doesn’t get dealt. He’s due $4.75M next season and $5.5M in 2011. Say the Padres let him walk after 2011 and he gains Type-A status. That would mean a $5.2M draft pick late in the first round and a $2.6M supplemental pick. Right there, the difference between his price and the draft pick return is less than $2.5M. Gonzalez is probably like a four-to-five win player, though, and if he performs as such his surplus value will reach upwards of $35M easily.

Jed Hoyer is probably well aware of how great Gonzalez deal is.