Sox apparently in the hunt for Gonzalez

December, 22, 2011
The Oakland Athletics are on the verge of trading prized left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez, a baseball source told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, and are expected to make a decision Thursday between offers from the Washington Nationals and another team.

That second team is apparently the Boston Red Sox.

Despite earlier reports suggesting that the Red Sox had decided the cost in talent would be too high, the 26-year-old Gonzalez remains the team's top target, multiple Sox sources told on Thursday.

Is a deal to Boston imminent? It doesn't appear so, but at the same time, a Sox source said, that could change with a phone call. "There isn't anything front-burner there,'' the source said.

Gonzalez, who went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 2011, is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and is expected to command a salary in the $4 million range for 2012. That makes Gonzalez a terrific bargain, in addition to the type of the arm that the Red Sox feel, according to a source, would give them one of the top rotations in the American League, top to bottom: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Gonzalez and Daniel Bard, who is being converted from reliever.

The Sox would expect they'd have to part with top third base prospect Will Middlebrooks in the deal, but with Xander Bogaerts in the pipeline -- he played short at Class A Greenville but could move to third -- they probably believe they can absorb Middlebrooks' loss. Middlebrooks, who is coming off a terrific season, is unlikely to have more value than he has now. He's currently rated by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Red Sox system.

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