With reports that 1B Adrian Gonzalez is on his way to Boston, the landscape in the American League East has shifted in a big way. Unknown to the average fan because he was lost in San Diego for years, Gonzalez is one of the best first basemen in baseball.

Gonzalez has posted a .274/.374/.514 line in baseball’s worst hitters park. To go along with fantastic offensive numbers, he is one of the better defensive first basemen in the game as well.

Normally, going to the American League East would signal a downturn in a player’s numbers because the division is so strong. But with Gonzalez leaving San Diego and going to the smaller Fenway Park, where he can pepper balls off the Green Monster, it is going to make him even more of an offensive force.

Also, it allows Boston to move Kevin Youkilis to third base, where he was a solid performer in limited duties there from 2004-2010. The move spells the end of the Adrian Beltre era in Boston, no doubt a disappointment for uber-agent Scott Boras, who would have loved to have Boston’s money in the bidding for one of the few premium free agents this winter.

In return, San Diego gets prized Red Sox pitching prospect Casey Kelly. He was drafted in 2008 and, despite reports suggesting that his future was as a pitcher, primarily played SS in the minors in 2008 and 2009 while pitching a very limited number of innings as well.

In 2010, Kelly switched to pitching full time, and though the numbers weren’t as impressive as you would like to see (5.31 ERA, 118 hits in 95 innings), he was one of the younger players in Double-A, at 20 years old.

According to the Baseball America scouting report, Kelly throws an 89-92 mph fastball that he can cut or sink to get hitters out. He has an above-average changeup and potentially a plus 12-6 curveball. His motion is easy and doesn’t put a lot of stress on his arm. He is likely a No. 2 starter but has ace potential.

Reportedly, also included in the deal to the Padres are 1B Anthony Rizzo and OF Ryan Kalish. Rizzo has a smooth swing and can drive the ball to all fields. He has decent pop, projecting to have 20 home run power in his prime. He is also a solid defender at 1B with soft hands and a good arm.

Ryan Kalish is a good, patient hitter with some pop in his bat as well. He has good speed and an average arm. He projects as more of a corner outfielder, though his speed and instincts would allow him to play center if necessary.

A HUGE win for the Red Sox in this deal as they give up three very good, potential impact prospects for one of the best, most inexpensive first basemen in baseball (Gonzalez will make $6.3 million in 2011). His salary will increase exponentially when he signs his new contract, and he could ask for something in the range of Ryan Howard’s (ridiculous) $25 million a year.

The move immediately improves the Red Sox by at least three wins over last year, and the healthy return of the injured players lost last year will make Boston the AL East favorites right along with the Yankees.

Update: The deal is done and the Padres get Kelly, Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes, not Kalish as previously rumored, plus a player to be named later. Fuentes has top-level speed and is very polished with the bat. He is a very good defender in center, with scouts saying he has gold-glove potential. He is a contact hitter who can occasionally drive the ball. In San Diego, he likely won’t hit more than 10-12 homers though.


*Scouting reports on prospects came from 2010 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com