Adrian Gonzalez is a very good player. On most teams, he would a plus on the field. But when you dig deeper, the Red Sox will have less costly options this winter and likely one or two comparable free agent first basemen in a year from now.
The Padres will want at least two top prospects for Gonzalez, as it would be a better return than the pair of draft picks they would receive when the All-Star first baseman departs after the 2011 season. The Red Sox do not need to exchange prospects for one-year of Gonzalez. It would deviate the organization from reaching the other side of the bridge. And more importantly, they could just wait to sign him next winter or a better possibility at first.
Assuming Albert Pujols stays in St. Louis, the other option at first is Prince Fielder. Even though Fielder is not at the same level as Gonzalez in the field, over the past three seasons, the pair have put up similar production with the wood. Fielder also appears to be less of a risk with the stick going forward.
Gonzalez is two years older than Fielder. The Red Sox would not be buying any of A-Gone’s seasons on right side of thirty. They would get two of Fielder’s. Gonzalez also has some questionable comparable players. The names of Alvin Davis, Mo Vaughn, George Bell, Danny Tartabull, and Richie Sexson indicate that A-Gone may not be an elite hitter through most of his next contract. The other names point to him being just a productive hitter. Fielder’s comps are not that much more encouraging when looking beyond their early thirty’s, but the Sox would have the slugger starting at age 28. Being two years younger than A-Gone, Fielder would be more likely to give Yawkey Way four years of probable elite performance than two from the current Padre.
The Red Sox should stay the course and not trade valuable prospects for Gonzalez. The Olde Towne Team can sign him or Fielder after the 2011 season for nothing more than a draft pick, if that. Plus, A-Gone is a riskier projection in 2012 and beyond than Fielder. The Red Sox should wait for Prince Fielder.