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Carlos Gonzalez Blockbuster Trade Opportunity Could Be Now or Never

The Colorado Rockies don't have to trade Carlos Gonzalez.

He's under contract through 2017, and he's having an All-Star season.

If Colorado is serious about a rebuild and wants to maximize CarGo's value, however, the moment for a blockbuster deal could be now or never.

After playing just 180 games combined in 2013 and 2014 because of injuries, Gonzalez bounced back last season with 40 home runs and a .271/.325/.540 slash line in 153 contests.

This year, he's shown that was no fluke, slashing .317/.370/.544 with 20 homers and 22 doubles entering play Thursday.

Even adjusting for the Coors Field effect—Gonzalez's career slugging percentage is 176 points higher at home—those are numbers that would leave any offense-hungry contender salivating.

There are likely other power-hitting corner outfielders on the market as the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline approaches, including the Cincinnati Reds' Jay Bruce and, possibly, the New York Yankees' Carlos Beltran.

Gonzalez, though, would be the biggest prize if the Rockies were to dangle him, a middle-of-the-order bat capable of tipping a race anywhere he goes.

In June, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post laid out the case for moving Gonzalez:

CarGo is making $17 million this season and $20 million in 2017, the final year of his contract, so the Rockies would like to get something for him before he leaves. He's not the complete, five-tool player he used to be, but he's still a legitimate slugger.

If general manager Jeff Bridich doesn't believe the Rockies can make the playoffs this season—and I think in his heart of hearts he knows this team is at least a year away—then moving CarGo makes sense. The fact that outfield prospects David Dahl and Raimel Tapia look like potential stars makes a CarGo trade even more likely.

Saunders concluded that Colorado is more likely to trade Gonzalez in the offseason. It's a salient argument. Next winter's free-agent cupboard is notably bare, so CarGo ought to draw ample interest, assuming he stays healthy and productive for the remainder of 2016.

Then again, there's no guarantee that'll happen. Gonzalez turns 31 in October. He's always been a streaky hitter. And to repeat, he wore the label "injury-prone" until recently, missing time with various maladies and undergoing knee surgery in 2014.

Surely some clubs that would surrender a shiny package for a healthy CarGo in the offseason would cough up more to get him in the heat of the playoff push.

Mix in the risk of a disabled-list stint or a cold couple of months, and the Rockies might never be able to sell higher than they could right now.

Colorado has done an admirable job bolstering its farm system, which Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter ranked No. 6 in the game after the 2016 amateur draft.

A few more quality pieces—particularly on the pitching side—could solidify the future. Plus, there are already club-controlled stars on the big league roster, including 25-year-old third baseman Nolan Arenado and 23-year-old shortstop Trevor Story.

At 49-52, the Rockies are six games off the wild-card pace and a long shot at best to sniff the playoffs. Their eyes should be trained on the horizon.

So which teams might be willing to part with meaningful chips to land Gonzalez? Potentially a lot.

Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball linked him to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sporting News' Ryan Fagan noted CarGo "makes sense" for the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox.

That's not to say all those squads would have the assets or motivation to make it happen, but it gives a sense of the wide net Colorado could cast.

On July 7, Gonzalez indicated he'd like to remain in the Mile High City as the Rockies' young players develop. He's played in only one postseason, in 2009, when the Philadelphia Phillies eliminated Colorado in the division series.

"I have been here for a lot of bad moments and tough situations, so I want to see the bright [side]," he said, per Saunders. "I want to be here when that happens."

Maybe he will be. The Rockies don't have to trade him.

But if they're planning on doing it and maximizing the return, now seems like the time.

    

All statistics courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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