The bind Padres general manager Jed Hoyer was in was that he could wait on Adrian Gonzalez. But knowing he couldn't sign him, he could either play it out for two or three months or rebuild for the next six years.
Here's the reality: two Draft picks? They'd be ready by 2015, at the earliest, and Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes are all higher-ceiling talents than the Padres would have received somewhere between the 19th and 40th picks. Kelly and Rizzo will probably be in San Diego by the end of next season -- right around the time each turns 22 -- and, most importantly, these aren't players judged from the stands on raw talent and radar-gun readings; they are players whom assistant GM Jason McLeod drafted and knows very well in terms of makeup.
Go back to the Mark Teixeira trades. With a year and two months before free agency, the Rangers used the trade to build a World Series team. A year later, two months from free agency, all the Braves got was Casey Kotchman.
The reverse is true for relievers, which makes it unlikely San Diego closer Heath Bell will be traded now. Teams always figure they can build bullpens in the offseason and don't do three-for-one deals. By June, a half-dozen contenders will know they need bullpen help, which is how the Rangers got David Murphy and Engel Beltre for Eric Gagne. Matt Capps was non-tendered in the offseason and the Nats received catching prospect Wilson Ramos at the Trade Deadline.
Once Red Sox GM Theo Epstein decided to go ahead and trade and not wait for free agency, the Padres knew the best deal they could make was with Boston. And the Red Sox, on the building warpath, can still continue their runs at Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth and still end up with a surplus of high Draft picks; the player to be named later is not a major prospect or top pick.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who knows a thing or two about Fenway Park, this fall called Gonzalez "the perfect Fenway hitter" (at least since Fred Lynn was exiled), as well as "the best defensive first baseman in the game."
Gonzalez led the Majors in opposite-field homers two years ago, and one National League official said, "You can't believe how many balls he hits that are lazy fly balls in PETCO and would be off the wall at Fenway."
Boston did give up a prime prospect in Kelly, but it would not talk about Daniel Bard. And the Red Sox didn't want to give up Felix Doubront, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish or Jose Iglesias, because they could impact the 2011 season.
Baseball Prospectus did a 2009 study of what Gonzalez would be in a neutral park and deduced he'd have a 1.083 OPS. Now put Gonzalez in a ballpark built for him ...
Now, having seen Epstein's aggressiveness, which included a run at Mariano Rivera -- which forced the Yankees to give the greatest closer in the history of the sport an extra year -- will the Steinbrenners and team president Randy Levine go after Cliff Lee and Crawford?
Red Smith always wrote that "Baseball is boring to boring people." The 2010 Red Sox won 89 games with a decimated team that was boring to boring bloggers and talk hosts.
But all of a sudden, Gonzalez gets on a plane to Boston and everyone's sending lawyers and money.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.