The Mat Latos trade should be interesting to A's fans because of our interest in dealing Gio Gonzalez, who NOW seems like the best pitcher available on the market (up until two days ago it didn't seem that Latos was available, so now it is official that Gio is again the best available pitcher barring some other surprise). This trade is significant as what San Diego got back for Latos was Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger (along with Edinson Volquez) the former three representing the Reds' #3, #4 and #10 prospects respectively as of a few weeks ago'sBaseball America listing. Billy Beane who has been asking for a lot from teams looks like he might be able to get it if a club is serious about getting a starting pitcher. Though there was some debate here yesterday about who is better, Gio or Latos, the numbers aren't even close. While Gio has more innings pitched than Latos (535 1/3, to 429 2/3) the numbers don't stack up all that well for Gio:
Clearly Latos has been the better pitcher. The walks as have always been a problem for Gio continue to be a problem and are responsible for at least half a run of opponent offense per nine which is significant for offensively challenged teams like San Diego and Oakland (though presumed trade partners Detroit, New York and Texas may be able to cover that deficiency more readily for him). The numbers above however are colored by Gonzalez' miserable 2008 campaign, and while that did happen so should be counted - he posted a 7.68 ERA, 7.04 FIP and ugly 6.6 BB/9 and -0.6 WAR numbers - it is a clear outlier and looking at Gio's numbers from 2009-2011 seem a better comparison of where the two pitchers stack up today though Gonzalez still has a 501 1/2 innings pitched to 429 2/3 innings pitched advantage which also is significant, being able to accumulate innings is a skill in and of itself isn't it Rich Harden?)
The numbers still favor Latos though less dramatically particuarly in the HR/9, FIP and xFIP areas (though the WAR difference too is notable). Basically what this means is that while Gio is very good, he is slightly less the pitcher Latos is. Furthermore, there is as people brought up the contractual differences. Gonzalez is arbitration eligible this offseason and pegged to earn about $4.2M in arbitration versus Latos' MLB minimum for one more year. That is a significant difference in $/WAR or any other value metric. Lesson is: Latos is worth more than Gio. But just how much more? I have to assume the difference is not as great as many may suppose it is. The Padres got 3 Top 10 prospects from a relatively well stocked system, plus a pitcher who has in the past shown flashes of being brilliant (remember Volquez is who Texas sent to Cincinnati to get Josh Hamilton). Is the A's asking for two top tier prospects a la a Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos from the Tigers that unreasonable now? Or the desire to get a Dellin Betances/Manny Banuelos plus Jesus Montero from the Yankees? Doesn't seem quite so crazy right now. Two key pitchers to watch who are also rumored to be on the trade market should they go before Gio can provide a better understanding of his value. While Latos represents the ceiling for what we could get and I'd be surprised if we reached it and shocked if we surpassed it, John Danks and Matt Garza represent the floor. If either of those guys goes, we can get a pretty good sense of what Gio is worth, granted things can always change. Injuries may make a team more likely to overpay to make a key and now very necessary addition, we can only wait and see...