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SF Chronicle: Pirates Wanted Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney for LaRoche

The Post-Gazette had this earlier today, but it might be worth more comment here:

I'm told the A's made an inquiry about Pittsburgh's Andy LaRoche quite some time ago, and the asking price was too high: Ryan Sweeney and Gio Gonzalez. So the matter pretty much ended there.

Gonzalez and Sweeney wouldn't be an awful package, but I'd rather just have LaRoche. I like Gonzalez, who's been an interesting starting pitching prospect for what seems like about a decade and has above-average velocity for a lefty, but he hasn't improved as much as one might hope as he's moved up the chain, and he has some control problems he hasn't really kicked. As for Sweeney, his offensive numbers last year looked a lot like LaRoche's--pretty good in a bunch of areas (walks, on-base percentage), although not great in any of them. Sweeney's also young, and he's a very good defender.

Unlike with LaRoche, though, there's no good reason to think Sweeney might one day break out offensively--his minor league profile just isn't that impressive. And with Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata hopefully in the outfield mix for years to come, the Pirates may not have many opportunities to see what Sweeney can do anyway. (True, Pedro Alvarez could block LaRoche soon, too, but at least there's the option of moving LaRoche to second.) The success of the trade would probably depend pretty heavily on Gonzalez, and at this point he doesn't seem like a great gamble to me. I wouldn't be upset if this trade happened (and Gonzalez and Sweeney are both young and interesting enough to prove me wrong), but it's probably not something I would do.