When the bidding window for Yu Darvish closes at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday, one team will come away with the chance to sign one of the best remaining pitchers available on the winter shopping market.
The others can turn their attention back to Gio Gonzalez.
The 26-year-old A's left-hander remains the hottest name on the trade market, with the Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rangers and Reds among the teams chasing him. Gonzalez will be arbitration-eligible in 2012, but a team acquiring him would have him under control for four years before free agency, which adds to his value.
For now, though, the A's are asking a sky-high price.
How high? Well, when the Marlins asked about Gonzalez at last week's winter meetings, sources said that the A's asked for budding star Mike Stanton in return. Understandably, that conversation was brief.
The Tigers could have something of an edge in the Gonzalez hunt, because A's general manager Billy Beane is said to be enamored with young Tiger right-hander Jacob Turner. The Tigers would be willing to deal Turner for Gonzalez, according to sources, but they balked at the A's request that they also include top prospects Nick Castellanos and Drew Smyly, as well.
The A's don't see much depth in the Tiger system, and may not agree to a deal that doesn't include both Turner and Castellanos, at the very least.
The Red Sox have been mentioned more often as interested in A's closer Andrew Bailey, but sources said they have shown just as much interest in Gonzalez. Adding Gonzalez to a rotation that already includes Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz would give Boston a very strong top four.
Similarly, the Tigers like the idea of adding Gonzalez to a group that includes Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello.
The Rangers and Blue Jays are two teams whose interest could be affected by the Darvish decision, as both have been mentioned as heavily interested in the Japanese star. The Darvish market is tough to call, because in a system that relies on blind bids, teams have even less reason than usual to signal their intentions publicly, and even more incentive to send out misinformation.
The Reds are searching for a top starting pitcher, too, and have been in contact with the A's, as well as the Rays (James Shields and others) and Braves (Jair Jurrjens). But the A's asked the Reds for a huge package headed by Yonder Alonso.
The Phillies also talked to the A's about Gonzalez, but the A's weren't overly excited in a package that would have included Domonic Brown and some younger, lesser pitching prospects.
The A's have told teams that they want only young, inexpensive players back for Gonzalez and Bailey, preferably players with less than one year of big-league experience.
They have also said that they don't plan to trade Gonzalez and Bailey as a package, because they don't believe that any interested team has enough available players to get both of them.