There were rumors of an Adrian Gonzalez deal for a long time. It was no secret that Boston general manager Theo Epstein wanted him. Red Sox fans followed him closely and many expected the trade to be just a matter of time.
When Jed Hoyer, former Red Sox assistant general manager, became the GM for the San Diego Padres, the rumors of Gonzalez’s eminent arrival just grew and grew. Hoyer would’ve had a lot of explaining to do last year, if he traded away the fan favorite All-Star in the middle of a pennant race. Despite trade deadline possibilities, Gonzalez stayed with the Padres for the 2010 season. Heading into next season, with just one more year on his contract, it became time for Hoyer to get something for Gonzalez before he would leave via free agency. Hoyer’s knowledge of the Red Sox made the process easier and allowed him to get quality in return.
In early December, 2010, the deal to send Gonzalez from the Padres to the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Reymond Fuentes, right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and a player to be named later was finally done.
Selected by the Florida Marlins with the first overall draft pick in 2000, Gonzalez was rated by Baseball America as the 31st best prospect in 2003 when the Marlins traded him to the Texas Rangers. He was part of a mid-season deal that sent former Red Sox closer Ugueth Urbina from Texas to Florida. Urbina saved six regular season games for the Marlins and recorded two saves in their 2003 World Series victory over the New York Yankees. After just 59 games with the Rangers in 2004 and 2005, Gonzalez was traded to his hometown Padres, where he excelled to become a three-time National League All-Star.
Gonzalez has a .284 career batting average, 186 doubles, 168 home runs, 525 RBI, 488 runs scored and 415 walks with a .368 on-base percentage and a .507 slugging percentage in 858 Major League games over seven seasons. His one weak spot, if you are looking for one, is his 18 GDP average per year. In his only post season experience, Gonzalez hit .357 (5-for-14) with two runs scored and three walks in four Division Series games in 2006.
Last year, Gonzalez batted .298 with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 101 RBI, 87 runs scored and 93 walks in 160 games. The 28-year-old recorded 302 total bases, an OPS of .904 and led the Majors with a .407 average with runners in scoring position.
A Gold Glove Award winner in 2008 and 2009, he finished second among NL first basemen with 1,324 putouts and third with 127 assists in 2010. Gonzalez will take over at first base for Kevin Youkilis, who has been the everyday first baseman since 2006 and won a Gold Gove in 2007. Youkilis will move across the diamond to his natural position of third base.
A left-handed hitter, Gonzalez should get a boost in his production numbers by playing in Fenway Park. The pitcher-friendly Petco Park in San Diego dragged him down as he hit better on the road. Thirty home runs for a fifth straight season should be easily attained in Boston. In the prime of his carrier, with a friendly home park and the caliber of the batting lineup around him, Gonzalez’s best years may still be ahead of him.
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