Before Gio Gonzalez turned up in the press conference room in Nationals Park in Brewers gear, Davey Martinez broke the news that the now-former Nationals’ left-hander would be leaving with Milwaukee when their three-game set in Washington, D.C. is over.
While reports of the deal surfaced during the series opener in the nation’s capital, it wasn’t made official until after the game ended.
Gonzalez was traded to the Brewers (along with international slot value) for a 22-year-old catcher/first baseman, KJ Harrison, and a 20-year-old infielder, Gilbert Lara. With the left-hander headed for free agency and the Nationals unlikely to make a qualifying offer, the trade brought something in return when they wouldn’t have received any compensation.
“We have traded Gio to the Brewers,” Martinez confirmed, “and I just spoke to Gio right now and he’ll be missed. He’s a professional. He meant a lot to this organization for a long time, and I wish him and his family all the best. I really do. I just told him, ‘Hey, go over there and do your thing and help them win, and we’ll see you down the road.’”
Gonzalez, 32, put up a 4.52 ERA, a 4.25 FIP, 70 walks (4.32 BB/9), 126 Ks (7.78 K/9), and a .267/.350/.419 line against in 27 starts and 145 2⁄3 innings pitched before the trade.
It was his seventh season in a Nationals uniform following the December 2011 deal that brought him to Washington from the Oakland A’s.
“You want to say you lose a teammate, you lose friends, but they’re not going away forever,” Martinez continued when asked about the team’s reaction to the deal.
“These guys stay in touch, they talk. Even though you’re on the other team, the friendship still stays intact, but he meant a lot to this organization.
“He’s been here a long time, a lot of these guys are close. But they get it. We all get it.
“So we’ve just got to say our goodbyes until we meet again, and then come back tomorrow and play the game.”
“It’s going to be tough to see him go,” Tanner Roark told reporters after his start against the Brewers.
“I’ve played with him since I’ve been up here. So, I’ve learned a lot from him and the way he carries himself and the way he goes about his business.”
Gonzalez talked to reporters after the Nationals’ 4-1 loss, which left them a game under .500 on the season.
“Word spreads fast,” Gonzalez said when asked how he learned about the trade.
“I knew what was going on, I heard talk here and there but it wasn’t official until you start getting a lot of text messages from family and from people you haven’t talked to in a while. For me, it was a reality check. It was kind of a point to move on and now I’m in a place where I can lift myself up and try to help out [the Milwaukee Brewers] as much as I can.”
After seven seasons with the Nationals, Gonzalez said he took some time to walk around the park, where he’ll stay for two more days before moving on. It was an emotional night.
“It was emotional, it definitely is. I’ve had my — I grew up here,” Gonzalez said, getting choked up. “I had my family here. My wife, my kids. It’s just sad to see it go.”
“But I’m happy. I’m really happy. I’m happy,” he insisted. “I’m getting a second chance to redeem myself and I think this is a perfect opportunity to [go to] a team like the Brewers, what a great lineup, a great rotation, and a stacked bullpen. I see there’s hopefully a brighter future for me here.”
Hearing some fans in Nationals Park thank him for what he did during his time with the Nats was when it started to sink in.
“I was trying to block it out a little bit,” Gonzalez said.
“But there were just a lot of fans standing up and saying, ‘Thank you,’ and you understand it, it starts sinking in a little bit when you start hearing the thank yous and the appreciation, the people that stuck around for all the years, so I deeply appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.”
Though he’s moving on to Milwaukee, for the next month at least, before he hits the free agent market, Gonzalez said he’d always have good feelings about his time in Washington.
“D.C. will always be in my heart,” he said, “but I know where I’m headed and I think this is a good thing for me and my family.”
A change of scenery, Gonzalez acknowledged, might be what he needs.
“Absolutely. I think everyone needs a fresh start every now and then. It’s unfortunate I put myself in this situation, and now it’s time for myself to get out of it. Milwaukee took a shot with me and I’m going to do my best to make it happen.”