Adrian Gonzalez will be hitting homers for the Padres at PETCO Park again in 2011. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
As expected, the Padres exercised their club option on Adrian Gonzalez for the 2011 season. A-Gone will make $5.5 million, making him far and away the best bargain in sports. The 28-year-old Gonzalez is a three-time All-Star who's only played five years in San Diego and already ranks in the top 10 in franchise history in hits, home runs, doubles, RBI, runs scored and walks. He also has the highest slugging percentage in Padres history, has won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards, and is entering his prime.
So, the question everyone is asking is, will Adrian be a Padre in 2012? Heck, will he be a Padre at the end of 2011? As a free agent next year, Gonzalez will command mega-bucks. The scale was set in the last two years by deals signed by other slugging 1st basemen Mark Texeira (averaging $22.5 million per year with the Yankees) and Ryan Howard (averaging $25 million per year with the Phillies). Gonzalez is a better hitter than Tex and a better fielder than Howard, and pretty much everyone in baseball believes his numbers will get even better playing 81 home games anywhere except PETCO Park.
The Padres certainly cannot afford to have a third of their payroll wrapped up in one player, no matter how good he is. So, now the game begins again. Do they trade him before the end of the season to get players in return that will help in the future? Do they let him play out the season and risk losing him and getting nothing in return? General Manager Jed Hoyer did a tremendous job in his first full season at the helm, but he's never had to make a decision like this.