Chips Are in Place for Adrian Gonzalez Trade to Red Sox

Chips Are in Place for Adrian Gonzalez Trade to Red Sox With all due respect to the Red Sox’ incumbent starting shortstop, the most important Gonzalez on the Red Sox’ offseason to-do list is not named Alex.

With the San Diego Padres unable to even sniff the playoffs over the past three seasons, it’s time for the club to start thinking about taking serious steps toward a trade of star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

The Padres have shopped him before, most notably at the All-Star break this summer. But when the guy you’re shopping is in his prime and has 130 home runs in his last four seasons and a career on-base percentage of .362, it’s hard to get equal value. Not to mention the burden of selling such a move to your fans.

But the Padres will have to find something to do with Gonzalez, the No. 1 overall draft pick nine years ago who has finally reached the apex of his career at age 27. The Padres have no hope of contending this year or next. They should have no goals beyond cutting payroll, rebuilding and looking to the future. Gonzalez, no matter how much talent he has to offer, isn’t a good fit.

Gonzalez has just one guaranteed year left on his contract in San Diego. He signed a four-year extension at the start of the 2007 season, guaranteeing him $9.5 million total through 2010. The Padres then tacked on a club option for 2011. It’s an incredible bargain of a contract, especially for one of the best (and most vastly underrated) young power hitters in the game. Any team in baseball can afford to pursue Gonzalez’ services.

But the Red Sox just might have the inside track.

With the arrival of former Sox assistant Jed Hoyer in San Diego this week as the Padres’ new general manager, the Red Sox now have an agent working on the inside. Hoyer, 35, is a former disciple of Theo Epstein, and one has to wonder if the student is willing to do business with the master.

In Boston, we’ve heard this story before — sometimes friends just love doing business with friends. One of the biggest trades in Celtics history was between two old teammates — it was old C’s legend Kevin McHale who picked up the phone in Minnesota and called Danny Ainge to talk trade in the summer of 2007. That July, the C’s acquired Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves, and the rest is history.

Who’s to say we can’t see it again?

With Hoyer in charge in San Diego, the Red Sox’ hopes of landing Gonzalez have new life. Hoyer and Epstein worked together for nine years in Boston, and while they may no longer be allies, they still see eye to eye on how to do business. Having two like-minded GMs on the job might help expedite the process.

The Sox’ cards are all on the table now. The Padres will know exactly how much stock the Red Sox put in each and every one of their prospects — after all, it was Hoyer who helped draft them.

Theo won’t be able to pull a fast one on the Pads. Hoyer knows where the Red Sox stand with Jonathan Papelbon, and he knows what their plans are with Daniel Bard. He knows the value of Michael Bowden, Casey Kelly, Lars Anderson and Ryan Westmoreland.

If a trade is to happen between these two teams, it will be a fair deal that benefits both sides. But given the teams’ respective positions in the baseball world, a trade makes sense. Epstein needs one more piece to build a World Series contender for 2010, and Hoyer needs prospects for the future.

And better than anyone, Hoyer knows where to find them. It’s time for him to pick up the phone. All the pieces are in place, so let’s make a deal.