The likelihood of a trade isn't known, but one source says the situation involves "pretty good discussions'' with multiple teams. Padres chairman Jeff Moorad told the San Diego Union-Tribune that there are at least three teams talking to San Diego about Gonzalez, whose value is enhanced by a bargain $5.9 million salary in 2011.
The Padres, who battled to the final day of the regular season before losing out by one game to the San Francisco Giants, may feel that their take in any Gonzalez deal would be diminished if they waited until this summer.
Gonzalez had shoulder surgery following the season, but agent John Boggs said he is "well ahead of schedule.'' Boggs also said, "I think he's going to be ready for Opening Day. I don't think there's any doubt about that.''
Gonzalez is thought to like the idea of Boston if he is traded. The Red Sox could fulfill his desire to be paid like the Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who signed an eight-year, $180 million contract before the 2009 season. The Cubs, Nationals and Mariners are among other teams looking for a first baseman, as are the White Sox (a return for Paul Konerko seems to be the likely solution there), Diamondbacks and Orioles.
The Red Sox have long been seen as the obvious match for Gonzalez, as they love his power and could shift Kevin Youkilis from first base to third, where he has been working out already this winter. The Red Sox have been interested in retaining free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, but their hopes to do so appear to be diminishing.
The Padres front office also is filled with ex-Red Sox executives including GM Jed Hoyer, assistant GM Jason McLeod and the newly hired Josh Byrnes. The Red Sox have a strong minor league system, with standout pitchers Casey Kelly and Felix Doubront, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Lars Anderson and shortstop Jose Iglesias.
If the Red Sox don't re-sign Beltre (and it appears he's likely to go elsewhere), Gonzalez would make a nice consolation prize. Opponents have been amazed at his ability put up big numbers in a pitcher's park like Petco with very little lineup protection. And he did it again in 2010 despite a shoulder issue.