Rival teams continue to call the San Diego Padres about the availability of All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez with a little less than 120 hours remaining before the trade deadline, and the Red Sox are among those clubs, at a time when the Boston offense is struggling badly.
But there are two enormous hurdles that stand in the way of any Gonzalez trade, sources say. No. 1, the Padres would require an extraordinary package of prospects in any deal for Gonzalez, who is young, relatively cheap and a star. Gonzalez, 27, is signed for $4.75 million for next year, and the Padres hold a $5.5 million option for 2011, as well.
This season, Gonzalez has 25 homers and 55 RBIs despite being a singular presence in what is a very young Padres' lineup -- Gonzalez already has been walked 78 times this season, and despite a .245 batting average, he has a .391 on-base percentage. Many talent evaluators agree that Gonzalez would be an even more devastating hitter if he had better protection in front and behind him in the San Diego lineup.
But even if the Padres were to receive an acceptable offer for Gonzalez, the second hurdle would be whether the San Diego ownership would approve the deal and risk angering the team's fan base even more, after an offseason in which the team slashed payroll, pursued a possible Jake Peavy trade and cut ties with the face of the franchise, reliever Trevor Hoffman.
When the Padres went through a fire sale in 1993, the ownership then was careful to keep a couple of recognizable stars, Tony Gwynn and Andy Benes. The Padres now are clinging to Gonzalez and Heath Bell in the same way.
But Gonzalez, a Gold Glove-caliber fielder as well as a strong offensive player, could draw huge offers. The Padres presumably would want four or five elite young pitching and position players from Boston or any other team in any deal.
"San Diego would expect you to back up the truck if you want him," said one talent evaluator. "They would be looking for the kind of haul that the Mariners gave up for [Erik] Bedard."
Senior writer Buster Olney covers Major League Baseball for ESPN The Magazine.