Now Gio Gonzalez is with the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s time for a comprehensive retrospective of the trade that brought him to the Washington Nationals.
In advance of the 2012 season, the Washington Nationals agreed to acquire LHP Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland A’s in exchange for four well-regarded prospects. Now that he’s left for pastures new with the Milwaukee Brewers, it’s time to dissect the trade.
The Nationals ended up sending catcher Derek Norris, as well as pitchers Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, and AJ Cole to the A’s. At the time of the deal, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported a scout’s reaction, “I don’t know how they could have done better. They got the right set of names. Quality and depth.”
Seven years later, we know more certainly if Oakland did indeed get “the right set of names” from the Nationals.
From name recognition alone, the Nats are the clear winner, as lefty was already an All-Star at the time, and he’d be named for a second time in his first season in Washington. The other four players haven’t cemented themselves as Major League regulars.
But on the outside chance that name recognition isn’t the best way to gauge player value, let’s compare WAR totals. We take a look at the WAR of the players sent to Oakland with Gonzalez’s total as a Washington National, per Baseball-Reference.
- Derek Norris: 6.0 WAR
- Tommy Milone: 3.8 WAR
- AJ Cole: 0.0 WAR
- Brad Peacock: 0.0 WAR
- Total WAR for the Athletics: 9.8 WAR
Then you can compare that to the WAR of Gio Gonzalez, which sits at 21.4 after he departed the nation’s capital. WAR indicates that, on the face of it, great trade for the Nats, and less so for the A’s. But that’s not the end of it. Not even close.
When the Washington Nationals traded Gio Gonzalez to the Brewers last week for minor-leaguers KJ Harrison and Gilbert Lara, a “trade tree” sprouted. To gauge the total value added by the original Gonzalez trade with Oakland, we’ll need to wait and see what becomes of Harrison and Lara.
Conversely, if A’s GM Billy Beane traded even one of his four-headed trade package, the value of those branches must add to the ledger as well. And as it turns out, he traded all four.
This trade just got a whole lot more complex. The only thing left to do is climb this trade tree one branch at a time and see where it takes us.