It’s crazy how time flies, but we are approaching the two year anniversary of the Washington Nationals acquiring Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athletics for what was perceived as a king’s ransom in Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole.
Of course, almost two years later we see how hindsight is a beautiful thing as Gonzalez is 32-16 with a 3.12 ERA in his two years in D.C., and Milone, who was a staple in Oakland’s 2012 rotation with a 13-10 record and a 3.74 ERA, was demoted to Triple-A in 2013 and took a step back, finishing with a 4.14 ERA. Peacock is no longer with the A’s and had a 5.18 ERA with the Houston Astros. Cole is back with Washington after a subpar year with Oakland’s minor league affiliates having trouble adjusting to the Pacific Coast League, known as a death valley of sorts with pitchers. Norris appeared in 98 games for the A’s and hit .246/.345/.409 with nine home runs. If one is going to compare returns, it seems to me that Washington got Gonzalez for essentially a steal.
Gonzalez’s acquisition was actually ranked as one of the worst deals of the 2012 offseason because many believed his inability to consistently throw strikes would be his detriment with a curveball that moved too much and a fastball that many believed he could not locate. Of course, we have seen in games Gonzalez tends to get frustrated with himself or the game which leads to him missing the strike zone. When Washington later that same year acquired Kurt Suzuki, we saw the fruits of a player who knew Gonzalez from Oakland and was able to calm him down on the mound and keep him focused.
Of course,the benefit of hindsight is that we now know what Milone, Peacock and Norris, the three significant names dealt, have become. Milone is a solid back end starter, Peacock is probably destined for the bullpen, and Norris is still raw but has potential. What Washington got for that is a solid and at times spectacular second starter and a power lefty.
The question is this: Can Washington pull of another deal this offseason?
If I were to grade the talent Washington gave up for Gonzalez, I would say that at this point in time Washington gave up about C-level talent for a player who is a high B or A level guy when it comes to talent. We also know that Billy Beane tends to bring in young, cheaper guys for his young, more expensive guys. But Andrew Friedman is Beane on steroids, always being able to make a shrewd deal that helps his team now and in the future, and Dave Dombrowski is no slouch either, being able to pull off trades for Max Scherzer, Miguel Cabrera and Doug Fister, as well as being able to bring in Prince Fielder, though that deal may have been more ownership than front office.
If Washington is going to go after David Price or Max Scherzer they are going to have to give up a lot, but with a few years analysis, they may not actually give up that much. Just look at the Gonzalez deal and you’ll see what I mean.