Is Padres' Gonzalez on block?

Is Adrian Gonzalez as good as gone? It depends on who you ask, but the signs are pointing in that direction. Bill Center:

    Gonzalez is committed to the Padres for two more seasons at a total of $10.25 million plus possibly an additional $500,000 in reachable performance bonuses -- at most a total that is $4 million less than Peavy was to have made next season alone.

    At the moment, Gonzalez is money in the bank. But in two seasons, if he continues on his present pace, Gonzalez will be in position to break the bank as a free agent.

    Given the combination of his offense, defense and community contributions, Gonzalez might project to be an $18 million to $22 million player. The Padres wanted to rid themselves of Peavy at half that amount.

    “I think it's only a matter of time until they trade Adrian,” said a source close to the situation. “ ‘When’ is the definitive call, not ‘if.’ ”


    Trading Gonzalez, however, might not be as easy as it looks.

    A team trading three to five prospects for Gonzalez might want to be sure it can sign him to a long-term contract before finalizing any trade. And it might behoove Gonzalez to reject some low-ball overtures with free agency approaching.

    There also will be a backlash among Padres fans on both sides of the border if Gonzalez is traded.

This really isn't difficult stuff. If you're Jed Hoyer, the Padres' new general manager, you do two things:

First, you go back 10 or 15 years and you figure out if teams get more value when trading superstars during the offseason or during the season.

Second, you trade Adrian Gonzalez at whichever point he nets the most value.

Simple as that, folks. Of course the Padres can't hang on to Gonzalez, because it's unlikely that they'll win 90 games in 2010 or '11 even if he's on the roster. Oh, and also because their best young hitter should be playing first base rather than left field.

Granted, you might reasonably ask, "But what if the Padres don't get a spectacular collection of young talent when they trade Gonzalez? What happens to them then?"

The answer is that if they're not smart enough to get a spectacular collection of young talent when trading Gonzalez, they wouldn't be smart enough to build a spectacular collection of talent around Gonzalez if they kept him. You know?

Jed Hoyer's never been in this position before. He made his bones with the Red Sox, who have never been compelled to trade a player they wanted to keep. I suspect that he and Paul DePodesta and perhaps even Jeff Moorad know what should be done. Whether they actually do it ... Well, that's another question.

And when it comes to a "backlash" if it does happen, I suspect that everyone running the club is more worried about the backlash that comes when you fall out of competition early each summer. This year the Padres failed to draw two million customers for the first time since 1995.