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Should the Padres Trade Gonzalez?

Each year at the trade deadline, bottom dwellers line up their attractive commodities for a fire sale, lining up highly priced talent in a pseudo auction that is both uncomfortable and, often, an essential rite of passage for a team in the middle of a rebuilding project.

Few teams are further sunk into rebuilding than the Padres, who entered the season as prohibitive favorites to finish as the worst team in the majors (see, everyone underestimated the Nationals' aplomb at losing). San Diego has been better than expected, but the Padres still have eons to go to be a truly competitive franchise.

Since Day 1 of the offseason, everyone expected San Diego to dump ace Jake Peavy, both to get prospects and to rid itself of Peavy's sizable salary. The move never happened before the season (the Cubs were rumored to have accepted a trade deal at one point at the Winter Meetings), and now Peavy is injured and may miss the rest of the season. That takes him off the market, which one would think is the kind of development that can utterly cripple a team's ability to reload with young talent.

Yet the Padres do have another, incredibly attractive chip they could deal: Slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The question is whether it makes sense for the team to deal him in the first place.

As pointed out in this story from by Tom Krasovic, Gonzalez is both relatively young and under cheap contract through 2011. He can't even veto a trade (unlike Peavy, who rejected a deal to the White Sox earlier this year), which means the Padres could ship him out stock auction style, putting him on the block and raking in the best haul of prospects possible.

Undoubtedly, trading Gonzalez would bring the team some huge chips in return. Teams like the Red Sox -- who could move first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third base (pushing out the oft-injured Mike Lowell) and play Gonzalez at first -- would almost assuredly offer up some of the franchise's starting pitching prospects and could sweeten a deal with a corner infield prospect to replace Gonzalez. The team has two corner infielders who are major league ready sitting in the minor leagues.

Naturally, interest from Boston would probably only be the tip of the iceberg. Even if the Padres insisted on shipping Gonzalez out of the NL West, there'd be plenty of teams in the NL East and Central that would fight over him, let alone the AL West.

But as much as Gonzalez would help re-stock the Padres system, it's possible that he's worth much more to the Padres simply by playing out his contract. As Krasovic notes, Gonzalez is the single best thing the Padres have going. He's a home run hitting machine and fan favorite, often providing enough motivation to go to the game on his own.

For his part, Padres CEO and vice-chairman Jeff Moorad -- a former longtime agent -- said there is "no chance" San Diego will deal Gonzalez at the deadline, and says there's "no way" the team would put him on the block in the offseason.

Of course, that hardly means that the team wouldn't listen to offers, perhaps intently. So, does it make sense to trade Gonzalez? What would the Padres have to get back in return to make a deal worthwhile? And which teams could provide good trading partners for San Diego?

What do people think?

By Cameron Smith  |  July 22, 2009; 2:33 PM ET
Categories:  Padres  | Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, MLB, Padres, trade  
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