Adrian Gonzalez is the new Roy Halladay. Given his agent’s statements that he is not willing to give San Diego a hometown discount and sees Mark Teixeira’s contract as the comparison for what his player expects, there is essentially no chance that the Padres end up keeping him. He will be traded, the only question is when and where. So, prepare yourselves for a never ending rumor mill, which was so much fun the last time we had one of these…
But, that’s not the point of this post. Since Gonzalez’s agent wants to draw comparisons to Mark Teixeira, I thought, so should we. Let’s get back to our roots a little bit and throw up some graphs. This is Teixeira and Gonzalez’s performance by age, plotted against each other.
As you can see, the comparison isn’t a bad one. Teixeira walked a little bit more until last year, when Gonzalez took 100 free passes for the first time in his career. Their contact rates have basically been the same. Teixeira showed significantly more power at 24 and 25, but Gonzalez caught him at 26 and sustained the power burst last year. That allowed him to close the early career gap in wOBA, and for the last two years, Gonzalez has matched Teixeira’s development path. He got off to a slower start, but his more recent performances make this comparison valid.
So, Paul Boggs has a pretty good case when he says he wants a Teixeira like contract for his Gonzalez, since they are pretty similar, right?
There’s one huge difference that was a significant factor for Teixeira ending up with $180 million that won’t be a factor for Gonzalez – the Yankees. Put simply, it’s quite unlikely that New York will spend the money to have Gonzalez DH when they already have huge money committed to Teixeira long term. And, as free agents out found out this winter, when the Yankees aren’t involved, your ability to demand a huge contract dries up. Yes, the Red Sox will almost certainly be interested in Gonzalez when he hits free agency, but if they’re not getting pressured by the Bronx Bombers, they simply won’t have to try and compete for his services with their bitter enemies. And that will hurt Gonzalez’s ability to demand a mega contract.
I’d imagine Boggs is fully aware of this, so my guess is that Gonzalez will never get to free agency. Whatever team is willing to give up the truckload of prospects it will take to get him will also want a contract extension as part of the deal. Whether its Boston or somewhere else, I’d expect Gonzalez to be signing a long term contract this winter, but for significantly less than what Teixeira got. His agent can talk up that $180 million comparison all he wants, but at the end of the day, if the Yankees aren’t in the bidding, that’s not a realistic number. Expect him to settle for quite a bit less.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.