The Washington Nationals made a long-awaited deal to bolster their starting rotation Thursday, trading four highly-rated prospects to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
According to Keith Law of ESPN and Scouts, Inc., the Nationals sent A.J. Cole, Brad Peacock, Derek Norris, and Tommy Milone to the Athletics in exchange for the 26-year-old Gonzalez, who went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts and 202 innings pitched in 2011.
Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo had come under heavy criticism for missing out on free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle at the Winter Meetings earlier this month (Buehrle signed with the Miami Marlins). Gonzalez is expected to be Washington's third starter in 2012, behind Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
Three of the four prospects dealt to Oakland (Cole, Peacock, and Norris) were rated among the top 10 in Washington's system, according to Baseball America. Peacock and Milone finished the 2011 season with AAA Syracuse. Norris finished 2011 at Class A Hagerstown, while Cole was at AA Harrisburg.