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Gio Gonzalez and minor-league right-hander Robert Gilliam come from Oakland to D.C.
The Nationals' blockbuster trade to acquire Gio Gonzalez is now official. Both the Nationals and Athletics announced the six-player deal this evening, with Gonzalez and minor-league right-hander Robert Gilliam coming to Washington, and minor leaguers Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole, Derek Norris and Tommy Milone going to Oakland.
Gonzalez is 31-21 with a 3.12 ERA and 368 strikeouts over the last two seasons and earned his first All-Star berth this summer. The 26-year-old left-hander immediately joins Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann to form a potent trio of young power arms atop the Nationals' rotation.
"He brings a presence in our rotation," general manager Mike Rizzo said during a conference call with beat writers. "He's had success. He's been a workhorse ... and gives us a young corps of starting pitchers at the major-league level that really is in the realm of something we've never had here before."
Rizzo said talks with A's GM Billy Beane began more than one month ago and picked up some steam two weeks ago at the Winter Meetings after the Nationals failed to lure free agent Mark Buehrle to D.C. Once Beane lowered his asking price some -- which begs the question of how high it initially stood, given the talented quartet the Nationals gave up in the end -- the deal came together over the last few days.
Gonzalez then passed a physical today to make the trade official. He's expected to come to Washington in the near future to be formally introduced at Nationals Park.
In describing the newest member of his pitching staff, Rizzo raved both about Gonzalez's repertoire (including a low-90s fastball, a knee-buckling curveball and an occasional change-up to right-handed hitters) and his desire to succeed.
"He's an ultra-competitor," said Rizzo, who first scouted Gonzalez out of high school in Miami. "I call him, in a good way, a sore loser. He really takes defeats hard."
Rizzo called the package of prospects that went to Oakland "painful" to give up, but acknowledged it takes "a bundle of good, talented players" to acquire a pitcher like Gonzalez who is under contract for four more seasons. He also expressed confidence in the pitching depth the Nationals currently have at both the major-league and minor-league levels to cover for the losses in particular of Peacock and Milone (who each made their big-league debuts in September).
As for the rest of the 2012 rotation, Rizzo was less definitive in explaining how everyone else will fit on the roster. With Strasburg, Zimmermann and Gonzalez assured of rotation spots, there are only two remaining positions but three pitchers to choose from: Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler.
Rizzo stressed the importance of keeping more than five starters available because of the inevitable injuries that will occur and said it's "fair to say" one pitcher from the group of Wang, Lannan and Detwiler is likely to open the season in the bullpen. He then added: "There's going to be competition, so we'll see how that all pans out during spring training. But they're three quality pitchers, and if they're not three of our best 12 when we leave camp, we're doing pretty good."
Though Gonzalez is obviously the major piece of the trade, the Nationals also acquired Gilliam from Oakland. The 24-year-old joins Washington's farm system after going 12-7 with a 5.04 ERA in 28 starts at high-Class A Stockton this season.