Gio Gonzalez was a first-round pick in 2004, and became one of the best pitchers in baseball in the last few seasons. Now 27, he was an All-Star the last two seasons and won 21 games for the Washington Nationals last season.
But for such a big-time prospect with less than a decade in pro ball, he's changed franchises a lot, from the Chicago White Sox to the Philadelphia Phillies, back the the White Sox, to the Oakland A's and then to the Nationals. In this week's Blockbusters Revisited, let's take a look at those deals and call winners.
Nov. 25, 2005: The Chicago White Sox traded RHP Gio Gonzalez, LHP Daniel Haigwood and OF Aaron Rowand to the Philadelphia Phillies for 1B Jim Thome.
Advantage: Draw. Haigwood never made the majors, but Rowand was an All-Star in 2007 (.309, 27 HR, 89 RBI), and Gonzalez was in the minors (7-12, 4.66 ERA in Double-A). Thome hit .265 with 134 homers in four seasons in Chicago, including 32 homers the first year, when he was an All-Star. If the Phillies had seen what they had in Gonzalez, that would have been a great deal. But they didn't, and they blew it on the next deal in a big way.
Dec. 6, 2006: The Phillies traded Gonzalez and RHP Gavin Floyd to the White Sox for RHP Freddy Garcia.
Advantage: Huge to the White Sox. Not only did they atone for trading Gonzalez by getting him back, they got Gavin Floyd, who won 63 games over the next five seasons, including 17 in 2008. Gonzalez returned to Double-A and was 9-7 witha 3.17 ERA. Garcia was a flop in Philly, injuring his shoulder and winning one game in 2007. He was then released.
Jan. 3, 2008: The White Sox traded Gonzalez, RHP Faustino De Los Santos and OF Ryan Sweeney to the Oakland A's for OF Nick Swisher.
Advantage: Huge to the A's. Fool them once, shame on them. Fool them twice, shame on you. The White Sox got Swisher, who hit 24 homers but batted just .219 and had the lowest on-base percentage (.332) since his rookie season. He was then flipped to the Yankees, where he regained his career footing. And the White Sox got little in return. The A's got Gonzalez, who went back and forth between Oakland for the next two seasons, won 15 games in 2010 and was an All-Star in 2011, going 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA. De Los Santos pitched in 40 games in relief in 2011 and 2012 for the A's, but was traded to Milwaukee last July (for catcher George Kottaras) and hasn't pitched in the majors since. Sweeney hit .286 in four seasons as a part-time starter with the A's, but never hit for much power. Still, this is an easy call.
Dec. 23, 2011: The A's traded Gonzalez with RHP Robert Gilliam to the Washington Nationals for RHP A.J. Cole, LHP Tommy Milone, C Derek Norris and RHP Brad Peacock.
Advantage: Too soon to call. It would be nice to wrap this in a bow, but the package of players the A's received for Gonzalez was of pretty good quality. While Gonzalez is a big part of the Nationals, Gilliam is in his second year in Double-A and is a marginal prospect. For the A's, Cole is still in Single-A ball, but is rated the No. 91 prospect by MLB.com. Peacock was flipped to the Houston Astros last offseason. Norris is Oakland's backup catcher (hitting .208 with four homers). The player who is closest to Gonzalez in quality is Milone, 26, who went 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA last season and is 8-7 with a 4.11 ERA this season. Milone isn't Gonzalez, but he's making almost $6 million less.
So to sum it up, the A's probably came out sweetest when it came to Gonzalez, thanks to the earlier deal. The Nationals have him now and probably wouldn't give him back. And the Phillies and White Sox: Swing and a miss.