Adrian Gonzalez will be linked to the Red Sox each and every day this offseason, and the bulk of those links will classify him as a franchise-changing addition in Boston.
Before labeling him the savior, however, one has to wait for Gonzalez to heal from shoulder surgery, and that could take some time.
The San Diego Padres slugger told the team's flagship station, XX 1090 AM, that he might not be able to swing a bat for four to five months as he recovers from the procedure.
The front end of that timeline would put Gonzalez on track to be playing early in spring training. The back end would carry him a bit closer to Opening Day, and any setbacks could hinder his ability to begin the season on time.
Gonzalez, who is expected to test free agency after the 2011 season if he is not traded away before that, may simply be expressing his desire to be as careful as possible.
"I think what Adrian is saying it that he's going to be very cautious and take it a step at a time," said agent John Boggs. "He's the type of player who can pick up a bat and be ready in a week.
"But what he's saying is he's going to take his time and make sure [his shoulder is] ready. The timeline has always been four months. He'll be ready … but he's not going to burst out of the gates if he's not."
San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer said last week that it is "a near certainty" that Gonzalez explores free agency, and the general consesus is that the Padres will not be able to pay him the money he is looking for, especially with indication from the All-Star first baseman that he will not be taking any discounts to stay home.
"In essence, if I take what you call a 'San Diego discount,' then I'm affecting their market," Gonzalez told the station while referencing his peers. "I'm affecting what they are going to make. It's a lot like real estate. That's the reason why. The way the game of baseball is set up, we have to protect each other. We have to do what's best for each other."
Gonzalez hit .298 with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs last season. He underwent surgery to repair his right labrum three weeks ago in New York.