Gio Gonzalez Trade Validates St. Louis Cardinals' Free Agency Plans

Between Mat Latos going to the Cincinnati Reds and Gio Gonzalez hitting the Washington Nationals a rough trend is beginning to emerge in the 2011 MLB offseason: Teams are trading prospects like crazy again. After a post-Moneyball moment in which prospects were suddenly hugely valuable properties, established starting pitchers who are not yet in free agency appear to have eclipsed them in sheer trade drawing power. For a St. Louis Cardinals fan, that means one thing: John Mozeliak was righter than we thought to suggest that the immediate post-Albert-Pujols future involved free agency rather than trading prospects.

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Because if the Nationals' third, fourth, sixth, and ninth best prospects are what it takes to get Gio Gonzalez, a talented and cheap starter with not-insignificant control problems—well, I'm happy to overpay a little in dollars to get Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal instead. In the meantime, the Cardinals can keep their own third, fourth, sixth, and ninth best prospects, and maybe eventually trade them for a ridiculous haul like this one. 

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