Jed Hoyer at Winter Meetings

"For the Padres, Adrian Gonzalez is certainly a franchise player, and I think a guy that any team would want," San Diego Padres GM Jed Hoyer said. "Certainly we evaluate him as a star caliber player. But it became very obvious to us over the course of the end of the season, our meetings with John Boggs that we were not going to be able to retain him long-term.

He was going to get well outside of our financial means. So with that in mind, knowing it's one more year, we felt like this was the right time to do it. We were able to secure three prospects we like a lot for the future. We think we're in position where we need to do that. We need to always be looking towards gaining young, controllable players for the Padres.

One season of Adrian Gonzalez, it would be difficult to lose that, but we gained a lot. We felt like in our financial position that was something we had to do.

The idea of pulling the trigger when you did on Gonzalez versus taking him into these winter meetings and talking to different teams, obviously you got a deal you liked. Can you just explain maybe a little bit about the philosophy of the timing versus putting him up for auction here?

Jed Hoyer: Sure. Well, we had a number of teams that were interested. Probably talked to seven or eight teams over the last couple of weeks. It got a lot more active over the last week.

I'd say there were three teams that were heavily involved. And one of the big variables was some of the teams that were involved were going to go away or could go away because they were going to sign free agents. Theoretically, I think bringing him here, and as you said, putting him up for auction, however you phrased it, in doing that we also could have lost a significant return.

We felt like once we got to a point where we had a group of players that we felt were worthy of trading Adrian Gonzalez, then we pulled the trigger. So bringing him here, I think there was a significant risk that we would have lost the deal.

You guys were one day away from the playoffs last year. How do you justify not just keeping him for the one year even if you couldn't resign him, taking another shot at the playoffs. Now that he's gone, what are your expectations for this coming season?

Jed Hoyer: Sure, that's a valid question. We obviously had a great season last year, and I think that the word last year was improbable. Our thoughts going forward is what I want to do really is build a team that has a probable chance every year of being very good.

I think the way to do that, a lower payroll environment is to have a wave of young players coming up through the system.

Our farm system has a lot of very good talent at the lower levels, at the upper levels we're fairly thin right now. We need to create a wave of young talent coming up through so that we can be a probable favorite to go to the postseason as opposed to making probable runs at it.

That said, I think we're going to be able to go out this off-season now that we've made this decision early, and we'll be able to sign some free agents and make some moves. By no means are we giving up on 2011. We're going to find a good first baseman. We'll fill some other holes, but we felt like this is the right move for the long-term health of the franchise.

Do you think this is going to be a tough sell for your fan base? Also, how did your knowledge of these prospects maybe help facilitate or hasten this deal?

Jed Hoyer: Sure. It was a very difficult decision for a player like Adrian. I mean, I can tell you from where I sit it's not easy. It doesn't even necessarily feel good. But at the same time, it's something that we felt was absolutely necessary to do, as I said, for the long-term health of the franchise.

I'm sure there will be disappointed fans because they wanted to watch Adrian in his last season in San Diego. But ultimately it came down to we only had Adrian for one more season. That much was made very clear. Once we knew it was only one season, we thought the right move was to act somewhat preemptively to get the best package of young players back.

People can talk about whether we should have brought him to the season or you could always trade him in a deadline or just take draft picks. In our mind, the risk associated with that it simply wasn't worth it. We have to make this kind of move and get the prospects. If we don't, we could look back later on and feel like we really sold our future short.

And the knowledge of the prospects?

Jed Hoyer: The knowledge was a big thing. Boston was clearly the most aggressive team in pursuing Adrian, and we really liked this package of players. From a talent standpoint this was clearly the best package that we had. But the knowledge of the prospects also had a lot to do with it. Jason McCloud was the scouting director when all three of these guys were drafted. I know all three of these players. Perhaps the biggest anxiety you have in any trade is the unknown. You don't know the player, you don't know the personality, you don't know the toughness. All of that is taken out of the equation in this trade for us. We know these guys. We know they have a great make-up, so that is a huge variable we don't have to worry about. It lets you sleep a lot better at night knowing that ultimately their talent will take them as far as they're going to go, but we know their mental toughness, their make-up is going to be topnotch. That's a big problem when you make trades. You don't usually have that knowledge.

Now that you've completed this move, what does this mean for Heath Bell? Does he sort of become more available? What is his situation?

Jed Hoyer: No, you know, I think Heath's going to be our closer in 2011. We had a great bullpen last year. Our bullpen is a significant part of us winning games. I just want to be clear. This is not the start of a fire sale. This is not us giving up on 2011 at all. This is a difficult decision that was made because Adrian Gonzalez was going to leave at the end of the year. Because, in theory, the price that we could get back from him would drop so precipitously potentially in season or at the end of the season.

So this isn't a fire sale. We're not giving up on 2011. It's a move we felt we had to make for the future, but doesn't mean there are necessarily going to be subsequent moves like the one you just mentioned.

Given your knowledge of Adrian and knowledge of Fenway Park and the AL East, what kind of impact do you think he'll have for the Red Sox playing there 81 games?

Jed Hoyer: That is one of the hardest things about making this trade. Sometimes when you make some trades you feel like you may value a player more or less than the other team. I think Adrian's a superstar player. I certainly wish we could keep him in San Diego long-term. You know, we can't. I think he's going to be unbelievable in Fenway Park. He hit so many flyballs the other way, so many times it just died kind of helplessly before the warning track in Petco Park, so I think he's going to be a monster at Fenway Park.

They've got themselves a great player. A player we certainly wish we could have kept. But I think Red Sox fans will certainly enjoy watching him play for a long time.

What do you plan to do at shortstop? Would a trade for a veteran shortstop be a possibility?

Jed Hoyer: Yeah, we have a lot of things in the works right now at shortstop. Certainly a trade for a veteran is a possibility.

Not that long ago the Padres made the Jake Peavy trade. The reaction publicly was probably somewhat similar to this. Does the way that played out in 2010 make this at all easier to do?

Jed Hoyer: I think that they're -- I guess you could say that. It's hard for any city to trade away a star caliber player. I think in the case of Adrian it's more difficult for the fan base simply because he's from San Diego. He's a local hero. But in some ways the Peavy deal was a lot different. He was signed to a long-term contract. Adrian, this was his last year, and we knew that there was no chance of retaining him.

I'm hopeful that the fan base looks at it that we did trade peavy and we had an excellent year.

We'll do everything we can to replace Adrian. We like the young player's we got in return. It's certainly a hard day because there are certainly more Gonzalez T-shirts in the stands than any other player. He's a fan favorite for us. But we're happy with what we got back. We knew this day was coming at some point in the future, and we felt like the best thing to do was to look out for the future one year early.

Is there any chance of an extension for Bell?

Jed Hoyer: I have had talks with the Levinson Brothers on Bell. Nothing is imminent right now. It is not something I would anticipate in the near future.

Can you share some thoughts on the players you are acquiring?

Jed Hoyer: Sure. Casey Kelly is a -- he was 20 years old this year in AA as a starting pitcher. We think he's going to be a solid pitcher in the San Diego rotation for a long time. Anthony Rizzo is a big power first baseman. Very good defensive player. He's got fantastic work ethic and make-up. I know that people have been putting his numbers next to Adrian's when they both played in Double-A in Portland. That is a tough thing to put on any player to compare him to Adrian. But certainly he's a prospect we all liked a lot.

Reymond Fuentes is a young center fielder we think would be a great fit for our ballpark. He stole 42 bases in his first pro year. He's a double-plus runner. A very good make-up, player we liked in the draft a lot when we were in Boston. So I think we got a very nice haul of prospects.

One of the things we wrestled with honestly was there were other trades we could have gotten, maybe one Major League player back. But the rest of the trade would have been weaker and not very deep. So I know there is a disappointment, I guess, that we didn't get more Major League players or Major League players back. But ultimately, getting one Major Leaguer and kind of below average talent along with that, we felt like the right thing to do was certainly a very deep trade with the Red Sox where you feel like any one of these three players, if not all three, could wind up being very good Major Leaguers.

On that topic, knowing what you knew about the Red Sox, was there one guy if you were going to make this trade that you had to get back? Was that necessarily Anthony Rizzo?

Jed Hoyer: Yeah, Kelly for us, it is so hard to find affordable starting pitching in our market, getting a guy that we feel can be in our rotation for a long time. I think he's an excellent fit for Petco Park. So the deal was never going to get done without Kelly's inclusion.

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