Hoyer: Gonzalez deal 'absolutely necessary'

Hoyer: Gonzalez deal 'absolutely necessary'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. -- At no point did the prospect of trading Adrian Gonzalez sit well with Padres general manager Jed Hoyer, though the potential of eventually losing him without quality compensation made him feel far worse.

"I can tell you from where I sit it's not easy. It doesn't even necessarily feel good," Hoyer said Monday, addressing reporters at the Winter Meetings and after the trade of the three-time All-Star first baseman to the Red Sox became official.

"But at the same time, it's something that we felt was absolutely necessary to do ... for the long-term health of the franchise."

After a whirlwind weekend where the Gonzalez trade to the Red Sox for four players was on, off and then on again for good Sunday, Hoyer explained why the Padres had to move Gonzalez sooner rather than later.

"People can talk about whether we should have brought him into the season or you could always trade him at the [Trade] Deadline or just take Draft picks," Hoyer said. "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."

Hoyer said that since the end of the regular season, he had been contacted by "seven or eight teams," but in the end, three teams were not only in the position to give the Padres the prospects they wanted, but also were able to offer Gonzalez a long-term extension.

It also became apparent in Hoyer's discussions with Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, that the Padres weren't going to be able to sign Gonzalez, a free agent after 2011, to a long-term deal.

The Red Sox, the team Hoyer used to work for as assistant general manager, became the best fit on several fronts: They had the financial wherewithal to retain Gonzalez beyond 2011 and they had the best package of prospects to move.

Better still, Hoyer and assistant general manager Jason McLeod oversaw the drafting of the three prospects they acquired. McLeod ran the Red Sox's Draft when pitcher Casey Kelly (2008), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (2007) and outfielder Reymond Fuentes (2009) were selected.

The Padres will receive a fourth player in the deal, to be named later, although that player won't be a top prospect.

"The knowledge [of the players involved] was a big thing," Hoyer said. "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. We know these guys."

As for 2011, Hoyer said despite the Gonzalez trade and losing free agents Jon Garland, Miguel Tejada and Yorvit Torrealba, he's not giving up on the season.

The Padres have plenty of holes to fill, which now includes first base to replace Gonzalez. The team will also look to add a second baseman, shortstop and backup catcher.

"I'm sure there will be disappointed fans because they wanted to watch Adrian in his last season in San Diego," Hoyer said. "But ultimately, it came down to we only had Adrian for one more season."

The Padres won 90 games last season with the second-lowest payroll in baseball. That figure will likely be around $40 million this season.

"This isn't a fire sale," Hoyer said. "We're not giving up on 2011. It's a move we felt we had to make for the future."

Hoyer indicated that Heath Bell will be the Padres' closer in 2011. Bell, who made $4 million last season, is arbitration-eligible and due for a raise.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.