Yankees Offseason Trade Target: Starter Gio Gonzalez

Although the Washington Nationals just picked up his 2017 option, starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez is rumored to be available this offseason and could be a nice fit for the New York Yankees rotation.

It is basically inevitable that the New York Yankees bring in a starting pitcher via trade this winter unless they plan on rolling the dice with Rich Hill. Losing Nathan Eovaldi to TJ surgery left the team with just three established MLB starters under contract for next year, and none controlled beyond that.

Guys like Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Bryan Mitchell are probably better suited to being depth options rather than pitchers an aspiring contender hands the ball to every five days. Yes, they are rebuilding, but make no mistake that ownership wants to make a playoff run next year, as long as the moves they make don’t sacrifice the future.

Because of his upside and reasonable contract, Gio Gonzalez could be an appealing trade option for the Yankees this winter. On November 3rd, the Nationals exercised Gonzalez’s $12 million team option for next year, but many analysts have speculated they could look to move him because of the wealth of MLB-ready young pitchers they have in the upper minors to take over his spot.

The 31-year-old lefthander has been one of the most consistent starters in baseball since joining Oakland’s rotation full time back in 2010. Since then, he has never made fewer than 27 starts or pitched 158.2 IP in a season while compiling a career 3.73 ERA and 3.53 FIP. He’s a remarkably durable mid-rotation option, although his below-average control makes him anxiety-provoking to watch at times.

Gonzalez’s 4.57 ERA this season may be unsightly, but his peripherals aren’t far off from his career norms. He struck out 22.4% of the batters he faced this season while issuing free passes to a career-low 7.7% of them. The sinkerballer kept a solid 47% of his batted balls on the ground this year, which should help him succeed in Yankee Stadium. Gonzalez has always been adept adept at keeping the ball in the park as well.

With a $12 million team option for 2018 that will vest if Gonzelez reaches 180 innings this year, he is not a pure rental. Bringing him on board would give the team some veteran stability going forward to help ease the transition to some of New York’s promising young arms.

So what would it take to land him? Washington is not going to subtract from their big league roster to add prospects, so this would have to be a pure need-for-need deal. Washington has kicked the tires on Brett Gardner in the past, and could again have interest if they want to move Trea Turner back to the infield.

Alternatively, the Nats could have interest in filling their closer role with Dellin Betances, although the Yankees would probably insist on getting a starter with more control in return for Betances. They had interest in Joe Ross, Reynaldo Lopez, and Lucas Giolito at the deadline.

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