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Should the A’s pursue Gio Gonzalez?

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Another reunion may be on the way.

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Gio Gonzalez fits on the A’s roster much like $100 fits in all of our bank accounts. The A’s have seemingly unlimited space for starting pitchers; you and I have unlimited space for more cash. Should either be given available at no cost, then great! We’ll take it. Should you have to do some unreasonable work to earn that $100 like say, be an Angels fan for a day, then the answer is no.

That’s the situation with Gio, a delightful guy who is at the end of a strong career, and whose on field contribution is somewhat in question. The A’s have so few pitchers right now that fitting him on the roster is unquestionably doable, but cost is the question.

Has there been a rumor?

Not a big one, but the A’s have at least “checked on” Gonzalez, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. They’ve checked on lots of pitchers that we know of and probably many more we don’t know about, but at least it appears that Gio isn’t not on their list of targets.

The numbers

Gio Gonzalez career

Year W L GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Year W L GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2008 1 4 7 34.0 9.00 6.62 2.38 .250 41.8 % 23.1 % 7.68 7.04 5.11 -0.7
2009 6 7 17 98.2 9.94 5.11 1.28 .360 46.1 % 13.9 % 5.75 4.47 3.96 1.0
2010 15 9 33 200.2 7.67 4.13 0.67 .274 49.3 % 7.4 % 3.23 3.78 4.04 3.1
2011 16 12 32 202.0 8.78 4.05 0.76 .287 47.5 % 8.9 % 3.12 3.64 3.73 3.1
2012 21 8 32 199.1 9.35 3.43 0.41 .267 48.2 % 5.8 % 2.89 2.82 3.38 5.0
2013 11 8 32 195.2 8.83 3.50 0.78 .286 43.9 % 9.7 % 3.36 3.41 3.51 3.2
2014 10 10 27 158.2 9.19 3.18 0.57 .294 44.8 % 6.6 % 3.57 3.03 3.39 3.2
2015 11 8 31 175.2 8.66 3.54 0.41 .341 53.8 % 5.9 % 3.79 3.05 3.59 3.7
2016 11 11 32 177.1 8.68 2.99 0.96 .316 47.6 % 12.5 % 4.57 3.76 3.80 3.0
2017 15 9 32 201.0 8.42 3.54 0.94 .258 45.8 % 11.1 % 2.96 3.93 4.24 3.4
2018 10 11 32 171.0 7.79 4.21 0.89 .301 45.3 % 10.4 % 4.21 4.16 4.44 2.0

Gio has had an amazing career already going into his 12th season. For the bulk of it, he was an above average pitcher including two All-Star appearances. He’s past that prime now, but even last season he was an average pitcher which is a valuable asset.

We can try to convince ourselves that Gonzalez would benefit from Gold Glove defense on the corners or pretend the marine layer and extra real estate would fix Gonzalez’s woes, but the truth is his ceiling right now is an average starter. Something the A’s definitely need, but it’s unclear what they’ll pay for that.

There are a few indicators that make Gonzalez’s decline look like it will continue. His velocity is down as are his strikeouts, while is walks have ticked up. The walks might be a result of him nibbling more with diminished stuff, but either way it’s a negative indicator.

Nico’s take

Gio Gonzalez: Chaff

This pains me to write because in my heart I love Gio Gonzalez. But his fastball velocity is down to 90.7 MPH, he has never had great control, and his projected offering in free agency (both MLBTR and Fangraphs) is 2/$24M. That’s too much for the A’s to spend on a pitcher who, at 33, may simply be in natural decline.

The cost

As Nico alluded to, Gio is not overly cheap. The free agent marketplace is still expensive, starting pitchers are still highly sought, and the A’s are still the A’s even if spending is supposedly on its way up.

The consensus guess for Gonzalez is two years, at $24 million total dollars at both MLBTR and FanGraphs, with the former projecting a reunion with the A’s. To be clear, $12 million a season is not an unreasonable price tag for an average SP in today’s game and two years is a short amount of time. It’s doable and would put the payroll for 2019 at around $82 million. There are other holes that need to be filled, though, and with a final payroll that could end around the $85 million mark, it doesn’t leave a ton of room. Oakland probably needs to be more efficient than this.

Still, the A’s need to find some pitching via free agency. There are just too many holes to fill all of those roles via internal options or trades. Some of those holes will likely be filled in part by a cheap free agent (like Trevor Cahill last year) who will be asked to make 10-20 starts, but the A’s could use more consistency.

It’s highly possible the A’s will pay the free agent premium for a starter this offseason. Will that be on Gio Gonzalez?