Hoyer: Gonzalez wil be monster at Fenway

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Jed Hoyer was named general manager of the San Diego Padres, he knew it was only a matter of time before Theo Epstein inquired about superstar Adrian Gonzalez.

Prior to his current post as GM, Hoyer worked in the Red Sox organization as Epstein’s assistant and he knows the inner workings of Boston’s organization, especially the player development system. Hoyer’s assistant GM, Jason McLeod, also worked for the Sox as the director of amateur scouting.

Hoyer also knew how much Epstein coveted Gonzalez, and since the Padres were not going to be able to retain the first baseman’s services after this season, Hoyer knew this was his opportunity to acquire a package of talented players.

While the Red Sox get Gonzalez, the Padres get pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Raymond Fuentes and a player to be named later.

“Theo and I talk a lot, anyway, we’re good friends,” Hoyer explained. “And in October, he was calling me more often than usual. I used to walk down to Jason McLeod’s office, like ‘Will he just ask me already?’ I could tell, he was calling more often, I knew at some point he was going to start asking.”

Epstein finally asked about a month ago, according to Hoyer, who also said that the Red Sox were the most aggressive team in the bidding for Gonzalez.

Hoyer said he realizes the impact Gonzalez will have in Boston.

“Adrian is a superstar player, and I certainly wish we could keep him in San Diego long term but we can’t,” Hoyer said. “I think he’s going to be unbelievable at Fenway Park. He hit so many fly balls the other way, and so many times they just died before the warning track at Petco Park. He’s going to be a monster at Fenway Park. They’ve got themselves a great player, a player we certainly wish we could have kept. Red Sox fans will certainly enjoy watching him play for a long time.”

When the Red Sox were unable to acquire Mark Teixeira prior to the 2009 season, Hoyer was still with the Red Sox and called the club’s inability to ink the then-free-agent first baseman “a kick in the stomach.”

“When I was there, we were very aggressive in going after him, and the Yankees came in at the last minute, and obviously ended up winning a World Series the next year. The thought of having a big, slugging first baseman has been on the wish list for some time [in Boston].”

At the trade deadline two seasons ago, Epstein and the Red Sox were trying hard to acquire Gonzalez. A deal was never done and the Sox acquired catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez.

“I remember sitting there at the deadline, when we traded for Victor Martinez, making a significant offer for Adrian, a year and a half ago at this time. He’s always been a guy that they’ve coveted, and part of it was that they missed out on Teixeira, and they weren’t going to miss out on another one.”

Hoyer said having knowledge of the Sox’ farm system was a major advantage and it made the decision to deal with Boston easier. Hoyer said the only way he would have parted with Gonzalez was if pitching prospect Kelly was in the deal.

“We really liked this package of players,” Hoyer said. “From a talent standpoint, this was clearly the best package that we had, but the knowledge of prospects also had a lot to do with it.”

McLeod was the scouting director for the Red Sox when Kelly, Rizzo and Fuentes were drafted by Boston.

“Perhaps the biggest anxiety you have with any trade is the unknown,” Hoyer said. “You don’t know the players, you don’t know the personalities, you don’t know the toughness. All of that is taken out of the equation in this trade for us.

“We know these guys. We know they have great makeup. That’s a huge variable we don’t have to worry about. It lets you sleep a lot better at night, knowing that ultimately the talent will take them as far as they’re going to go, but we know their mental toughness. Their makeup is going to be top notch.”