All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez arrived at Padres camp in Peoria, Ariz., on Wednesday, got his preseason physical and worked out with his team. More interestingly to Red Sox fans, though, the San Diego-area native suggested that he won't be willing to take a hometown discount from the financially strapped Padres when his next contract is negotiated.
The 27-year-old Gonzalez, who has averaged 32 home runs and 100 RBIs in 160 games over his four seasons in San Diego, signed a four-year deal with the Padres worth $9.5 million back in April of 2007. The team holds a $5.5 million option for 2011.
In other words, Gonzalez is grossly underpaid.
"I want to stay here," Gonzalez said back in 2007, suggesting that location was part of the reason he was willing to sign a deal so friendly to the franchise's bottom line. "This is the team I admired while growing up."
But with discussions on a new contract likely to begin soon — "There hasn't been any talks about anything," Gonzalez told the North County Times on Wednesday — the rumors are already flying about a potential deadline trade to a bigger market team with the ability to pay him what he deserves, a team like the Red Sox.
"Don't believe everything you read, 99.9 percent of that is false," Gonzalez told reporters about the offseason chock full of trade rumors. "If it happens, it happens. I'm just going to go about my business.
"There must have been 20 different rumors," he continued. "Today, I'm a Padre and I'm preparing as a Padre. … But it's a business. If they think it's time to move me, move me."
Fair enough, but would Gonzalez be willing to sign another small-money deal to stay in San Diego?
"At the time you take the security," he said of the contract he signed three springs ago. "The next one is where I look for what I deserve, what my value is."
Gonzalez is unlikely to get what he deserves in San Diego, and that's the reason behind all of the speculation and hope here in Red Sox Nation.