As I write this, the A’s are preparing to welcome the New York Yankees, who come to Oakland boasting the most wins in the majors. I’m not sure there is ever a good time to face the Yankees, but this four game series represents especially unfortunate timing for the A’s. The Yankees are currently enjoying a 42 game streak where they have scored at least three runs and are approaching the major league record for such a streak. That is a pretty ridiculous statistic.
But I’m not worried.
Ok, I’m a little worried, but as I continue to write this, Oakland is only a game out of a playoff spot. Huh?
I know I’ve said it before but it really is amazing to see where this team is now and where people thought they’d be at this point. Even I didn’t envision this and I was more optimistic than most.
So, looking at the bigger picture, where does this put the A’s in the trade deadline musings? General Manager, Billy Beane, is always active this time of year but has some serious decisions to make before July 31st. I think even two weeks ago, most assumed the A’s would be sellers and rid themselves of veteran talent and payroll for prospects that would help down the road. While that is certainly still a possibility, Beane will not punt the season if his team is still in it. And he never has. At least not once the season has started.
So is it possible the A’s could be buyers and sellers? That seems to be a popular belief by many of the talking heads around baseball.
What we know: We know the A’s are a lot farther along with the latest rebuild than any of us thought they were at the beginning of the year. They have a solid core of good young players around which to build. We know that Billy Beane will not break up this core for anything, or just about anything.
A few years back, he broke the cycle of his rebuild to acquire Matt Holliday, which did not work out well. He won’t make a trade for that type of player again, simply because he can’t afford to give up his young assets. And those assets are producing anyway so why bother?
We also know that the A’s are right in the middle of a playoff hunt but that there are about a thousand other teams fighting for two spots, so even if Oakland is in it until the very end, they can’t mortgage the future for a small chance of immediate success.
Finally, we know that Billy Beane is not shy about trades and if there is something out there that will help this club, he’ll jump all over it.
What the A’s need: The clearest and biggest need for the A’s is on the left side of the infield. I think the Cliff Pennington experiment has about run its course and you can say the same for Brandon Inge’s career. Inge can still defend and run into a homer every now and then but has a .278 OBP this year and that just doesn’t cut it.
The A’s missed out on Kevin Youkilis. It didn’t take much to get him and he could have helped the A’s third base woes. They aren’t going to get a superstar but even league average at either of those two positions would be a drastic improvement.
Some possible solutions could come in-house. Grant Green is being groomed for a possible super-utility role as I alluded to earlier this month, and it might be time to take another look at Josh Donaldson. He’s not the sexiest answer but he’s putting up Ruthian numbers at Sacramento this year.
What the A’s have: As far as being buyers, the A’s really don’t have much to trade. Or at least, they don’t have much they are willing to trade. Like I said, the A’s won’t and shouldn’t over react to their surprising place in the standings by forgoing their most valuable prospects.
With Seth Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp all manning the outfield and under contract through at least next year, and guys like Collin Cowgil, Grant Green and Michael Taylor all waiting in the wings, it’s possible Beane could make top prospect, Michael Choice available in the right deal. The problem is Choice is having a down year by his standards (though he’s been heating up of late) and his value has likely taken a hit because of it. Plus, he has power, and power is expensive. A cheap, young talent like Choice will be tough to pry away from Billy.
Beane could also deal from his pitching surplus. He has a plethora of young major league pitchers and more on the way. It’s certainly possible that he could use Dan Strailey, Brad Peacock or Sonny Gray to get a good young third baseman, but we all know how much Bean loves his pitching. It’s tough for me to envision him parting with any of those guys.
As far as selling, I think any of the A’s veterans can be had at the right price. Coco Crisp is the most obvious as the A’s have a bunch of capable outfielders and he makes the most money (except for Cespedes but he isn’t going anywhere). I think Grant Balfour will be traded too. He’s a pretty good reliever and has experience in multiple roles. The A’s insist that Balfour would require a serious haul, but I think they’re bluffing. If they can get value, they will pull the trigger.
I think the same can be said for Bartolo Colon and Brandon McCarthy. But they’ve been so good for the A’s that I doubt any team would surrender enough for the A’s to get rid of either. Bartolo is too old and McCarthy is too injury prone for any team to get serious, in my opinion. And why bother if you are the A’s? These guys have you in the playoff hunt; they can be keys down the stretch.
But like anyone else, if someone is willing to pay Billy Bean’s undoubtedly high bounty, he will oblige.
What I predict: I think there is a 50-50 shot at Coco being traded, especially if he keeps up this hot streak he’s been on. I think Balfour will be traded, but both of these potential deals will only land the A’s solid prospects at best.
Beyond that, I don’t see the A’s giving up any of their veterans unless they are blown away (which I don’t believe will happen). Moreover, I think that’s a good thing. With all the youth and uncertainty involved with the rotation, I think keeping Colon and McCarthy will be prudent for the A’s down the stretch.
I believe the A’s will be buyers in a sense, but I don’t want anyone to get overly excited about that. If they bring in anyone, that person won’t be an all-star and he doesn’t need to be. Just solid at either SS or 3B. Not only do the A’s want to keep their young talent, but the market for the left side of the infield is very small, making potential acquisitions much more valuable to their prospective teams.
Both guys would command a lot in return but both are under control past this year. Headley will be a free agent before they Padres are relevant, but they are said to be asking for quite a lot in return. He’s a very good hitter (his numbers are greatly diminished by playing in San Diego) and would help the A’s immensely.
Drew seems to have fallen out of favor in Arizona. He’s also a very solid shortstop who can hit. He’d give the A’s flexibility and a little more pop in the offense. But again, he’d command a lot in a trade.
I’d expect the A’s to be active, but I doubt they’d acquire a player of this magnitude. But Minor acquisitions could help a lot. And I’ve never known Billy Beane to stand pat with a deadline approaching.
About the Author
Written by Josh Muller
My name is Josh Muller. I was born and raised in Oakland, California and currently live in San Francisco. I watch sports religiously and organize my calender year to coincide with baseball season. I'm a diehard A's and Warriors fan, love talking sports all day and believe that the words "Opening Day" are the two greatest in the English language.