Washington Nationals: Could Gio Gonzalez be traded?

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has become known for unorthodox trades. Could trading Gio Gonzalez this off-season become his latest?

This off-season appears to be a relatively quiet one for the Washington Nationals, but there will still be rumors swirling around the team throughout this week’s Winter Meetings. Pete Kerzel of MASN recently reported that the Nats could possibly trade Gio Gonzalez this off-season, which came out of nowhere.

While the thought of trading Gonzalez does not make much sense on the surface, it is certainly plausible.

First, Gonzalez’s trade value is as high as it has been in several years. 2017 rivaled 2012 as his best seasons during his six-year tenure with the Nats, and he finished sixth in voting for the National League Cy Young Award.

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Gonzalez’s 201 innings pitched in 2017 were his most since 2011, his final season with the Oakland A’s. His 2.96 ERA was also his lowest since 2012.

However, Gonzalez struggled towards the end of the regular season and in the postseason, possibly revealing that some regression is coming in 2018. If the Nats are going to trade him, now is as good a time as any.

Gonzalez is also entering the final year of his contract, so he could be pitching elsewhere in 2019. If the Nats trade him, they may be able to acquire someone with more team control.

The Nats are already in need of a starting pitcher; why would they trade one and create a need for another? Well, if Gonzalez is traded, it would be just one move in a series of transactions to fill the Nats’ needs. Perhaps a guy like Michael Taylor is also traded to acquire a starting pitcher.

If the Nats do end up trading Gonzalez, they would likely acquire another starting pitcher, a catcher, or an outfielder. Starting pitchers typically provide exorbitant trade value, so the Nats may even be able to fill a few needs by trading Gonzalez.

One name that comes to mind as a potential trade target is Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Domingo Santana. The Brewers are in need of an affordable veteran starting pitcher to eat innings, and Gonzalez fits the bill.

In Santana, the Nats would be acquiring an up-and-coming outfielder under team control for four seasons. He has been steadily improving for several years now, but broke through in 2017, his age-24 season.

In 151 games, Santana owned a .278/.371/.505 slash line to go with 30 homers and 15 stolen bases. Nats fans may remember Santana for his 476-foot home run that landed on the concourse near the Budweiser Brew House at Nationals Park off of, you guessed it, Gonzalez.

Gonzalez alone would not pry Santana away from Milwaukee, but a couple mid-tier prospects could likely get a deal done. Even if it is not Santana that the Nats acquire, Gonzalez is capable of bringing the Nats quite a bit of talent.

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The Winter Meetings are a time of many mindless rumors that must be taken with a grain of salt, and the idea of trading Gonzalez could be just that. However, it appears to be somewhat plausible and could be something the Nats are looking into. It would certainly be an outside-the-box trade, something that Mike Rizzo has specialized in.