Thursday, November 26, 2015

Road to the Show: Top End Prep Arms in the 2016 MLB Draft

While the 2016 MLB Draft is still 7 months away, it is never too early to take a look at some of the top talent available. Many other big names are sure to pop up between now and draft time, but as of right now, scouts already have a good feel for the high end talent of the upcoming draft. This year, the draft will be heavy on college pitchers and outfielders, but their are some high ceiling players at other positions as well. In this piece, we will take a look at two of the top high school arms in the class, left hander Jason Groome and righty Riley Pint.

LHP Jason Groome, IMG Academy (Florida)/Barnegat HS (New Jersey)
Groome, a native of New Jersey, is considered to be one of the premier talents of this class and very likely to go first overall to the Philadelphia Phillies. Groome stands in at 6'6'', with three plus pitches that he can command well. A Vanderbilt committ, he will likely pass on college to sign with a pro team. He stands out with his pitchability and plus stuff, and he has used it against hitters older than him as he is one of the youngest prospects in the draft class. His fastball has sat 90-94 and has touched 96 since he was 16 and there is room for even more. Groome also throws a two-seamer around 89-92 that has good armside run. His curveball is around 75-78 mph with good depth that is a 60/65 grade and is probably his best pitch. He mixes in a decent, developing changeup as well. He has been on the circuit for quite a while now, and most scouts are familiar with him and his experience playing against more advanced competition. The delivery and mechanics are clean and repeatable, although his arm does not seem to get maximum extension on his pitches. The upside on this kid reminds me of Jon Lester, whose fastball and curveball seem to be his bread and butter in getting strikeouts, and had decent command to go with it. Any high school arm is risky of course, but between his exposure to advanced competition and pitchability, Groome is one of the more advanced prep pitchers in this draft class.

RHP Riley Pint, St. Thomas Aquinas HS (Kansas)
Pint is the other top talent arm in this draft, drawing comps to other recent prep righties such as Lucas Giolito and Dylan Bundy, but he might as well be the polar opposite of Jason Groome. Not only is he right-handed, he throws consistently harder at 95-96, hitting 98 with good life, running and rising. His delivery is a lot higher effort, with his head jerking at the end of each pitch. He hasn't been on the travel circuit as long as Groome and doesn't have as much exposure as he plays basketball competitively in the winter as well, but he arguably has better pure stuff. He also throws a hard curveball at around 83-88 that flashes plus plus, but his inexperience causes it to waver and be inconsistent. His changeup has shown flashes if potential, like everything else he throws, but he doesn't throw it very often as so far he has lived on his fastball/curveball. He has a 3/4 delivery and throws mostly with his arm with a big whipping action, not taking full advantage of his big 6'4'' frame.  A raw project, whichever team that drafts him will be taking on a big risk, but if he eventually puts everything together, he could have three plus pitches and anchor the top of any rotation. At his peak, Pint can match Justin Verlander in his prime, but he has a lot of work to do before he reaches his potential.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Potential Free Agent Bargains Part 1: The Solartes

Yangervis Solarte, Rigoberto Cervantes-ABC de la Semana
Every year, we see players who sign minor league deals or 1-year deals worth very little come up big for a contending team. These players are not guaranteed much more than a Spring Training invitation, but they make the most out of their opportunities and play significant roles for their respective teams. Two relievers signed at the end of the last offseason, Ryan Madson and Carlos Villanueva, became top options in the back end of playoff bullpens. Yangervis Solarte, who the Yankees picked up as a relative unknown prior to 2014, took off in Spring Training and started strong before being dealt to San Diego for Chase Headley. Solarte is now a key cog in the Padres lineup, playing multiple infield positions with a potent bat, hitting .270 with 33 doubles and 14 home runs in 2015. Bargains in the free agent market can include anyone from former stars recovering from injury (The Madsons), undervalued assets (The Villanuevas), or complete unknowns (The Solartes) who, under the right direction, could flourish in a big way. This is the first piece in a three part series, covering the first category, The Solartes, or minor league free agents who have flown under the radar, yet could make an impact for a major league club in 2016.


Erik Cordier, RHP (video)
Cordier, a 6'4" native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, stands out for one thing: his fastball. He throws 96-98 and can consistently hit 100, and he has the numbers to back up his stuff. The 29-year-old right hander struck out 11.6 per 9 in 2014 in AAA before posting an 11.9 K/9 at the same level this season. He also throws an at least average, sometimes plus slider around 86-88. His main flaw, like most other hard throwers, is his control and command, but his pitching delivery is fairly simple and repeatable. A major league bullpen in need of a middle reliever with potential for more could take a flyer on Cordier, and his fastball-slider combo should pick up some K's at little to no risk.

Juan Gonzalez, RHP
Juan Gonzalez, Getty Images
Juan Gonzalez, a Venezuelan 25-year-old righty was a relative unknown in baseball circles until this season, where he surprised many by representing the Dodgers in the Futures Game for the World Team. Across 50 innings between AA and AAA, Gonzalez put up a 1.62 ERA, especially impressive considering the hitter-friendly confines of the PCL. There is no video available for him online, so we are limited to stat lines and quotes from the internet. Baseball America says his fastball sits in the mid-90s with good running action and a slider around 87 mph, and he challenges hitters and gets ground ball outs. This statement is backed up by farm director and Dodgers managerial candidate Gabe Kapler, who says "Juan has really opened some eyes with his consistency, his velocity, and some deceptiveness in his delivery." As a minor league free agent, he should receive an invite to Spring Training with a MLB team, and if he can build on his 2015 success he could be a big bullpen piece going forward.

Andrew Barbosa, LHP (promotional video from when he was in college at USF)
Barbosa is the oldest pitcher and the least-hyped player on this list, a power-armed 28 year old lefty who has undergone shoulder and elbow surgery before. Standing at 6'8'' 230 lbs, Barbosa throws a fastball, curveball, and changeup, the latter of which he claims is his best and most consistent pitch. He has posted good numbers in every step of the minors, yet has been moved along slowly due to injuries and setbacks. After being released by the Diamondbacks early on, Barbosa had a short stint with Long Island Ducks in which he dominated before the Braves picked him up. He pitched well in AA with a 56/22 K/BB ratio in 47.1 innings. The walk rate is a tad high, but he can limit batted-ball damage (6.8 H/9, just one HR hit off him this season), making him an attractive, low-risk target to be a LOOGY in a big league bullpen.

Robert Zarate, LHP
Zarate has had an intriguing career path that has took him everywhere. A native of Venezuela, he signed with the Canadian-based Blue Jays when he was 18, and pitched in the Dominican Summer League for them with solid results. He was released despite putting up strong numbers in 2009, and was off the radar for several years until 2012 in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers, although rumor has it he was in Japan for semi-pro ball with the independent Gunma Diamond Pegasus. It should also be noted that he spends most offseasons in his home country of Venezuela pitching in their Winter League. In 2015, the Rays brought him stateside to their AAA club, where he threw to the tune of a 2.90 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. His 10.9 K/9 was very impressive, and he showed the ability to limit walks and home runs as well. His ability to throw strikes and get whiffs from the left side should be appealing for teams in need of bullpen depth or help.

Position Players

Conner Crumbliss, 2B/OF (video)
Eye-popping. Those are the only words to describe his walk-rate, a true plus-plus tool of his. It is utterly insane, approaching nearly 20% in some of his seasons in the minor leagues. Crumbliss is athletic, has some speed and some pop to go with the tremendous approach. He is already 28, and it is hard to understand why the Athletics have had him repeat levels and stall his development. A college senior drafted in 2009, he has hit in every stop of the minors except a small 20-game sample of AAA in 2013, in which he even popped 3 home runs. He has hit at least 10 homers in each of the last three years and a solid career 77.6% stolen base success rate. His plus wRC+ numbers across his 6 years of minor league service (135, 148, 131, 112, 134, 142, 119) deserve at least a promotion to AAA, if not an outright shot at winning a big league bench spot in Spring Training. Bold prediction: if there is any no-name utility man who can step up and make an immediate impact in the major leagues, it is Crumbliss. Unfortunately, he missed most of 2015 with an injury, so a productive 2016 would require some rehab, making him an unlikely candidate for breakout. Still, a .250/.355/.365 line is not out of the question and would be a welcome addition for many major league teams. Of course, reasonable thinking leaves Crumbliss as an organizational filler, but even so he should be a decent piece in a Triple-A lineup with upside for more.

Tommy Field, INF (video)
Field is a defense-first shortstop with some pop in his bat. Also 28 years old, Tommy Field has exhibited power and patience throughout his minor league career. This past season, he posted a 12.2% walk rate to go with an 18.9% K-rate in AAA, and while a .192 ISO isn't extremely high, it is plenty of punch for a glove-minded middle infielder. He was rated the Best Defensive Infielder in the Rockies system before 2011, a testament to his plus glovework. He has bounced around quite a bit, with many teams taking a flyer on his profile, and there's no reason another team won't in Spring Training. He will be 29 come Opening Day, and if he does finally hit his stride and make a name for himself, look for a .230/.320/.410 batting line with about 10 homers and 5 stolen bases as a best case scenario, obviously with the always solid defense as well.

Destin Hood, OF (video)
If one had to pick just one word to describe Destin Hood, it would be 'explosive'. His tools are so loud, and that is why the Nationals took him in the second round out of high school in 2008. He went through his up and downs throughout the Nats system until he reached AAA in 2014, and he slashed .294/.344/.482 with 24 doubles and 10 homers. He became a minor league free agent at the end of that year, and it is puzzling why the Nationals didn't put the former top prospect, at just 24, on their 40-man roster. The Cleveland Indians picked him up and, in an even more inexplicable move, sent him to AA, where he hit well again before releasing him. The Phillies picked him up, and apparently they agreed with the Indians' evaluation, and they sent him to AA where, of course, he hit well again. Between these moves, it is very possible that there are some makeup or personality issues with Hood, but without any inside info, we will never know. From our standpoint, and maybe a few major league organizations, he is a toolshed oozing with potential who know has a track record of hitting high minors pitching well for two years now, and at just the age of 25, he has even more room to improve.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Player Profile: Byung-ho Park

The 2014 Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization possessed a lineup envied by many around the league. Current Pirate shortstop and Rookie Of the Year finalist Jung-ho Kang bashed 40 home tuns, and MVP second baseman Geon-chang Seo batted .370 with 48 stolen bases. But the biggest threat in the lineup still lurked behind the two in the cleanup spot in the order: first baseman, Korean superstar and national sensation, and possible future Minnesota Twin, Byung-ho Park. He hit 52 home runs that year, and followed that up with 53 more in 2015, and he is now preparing for his next task, a transition to the MLB.

Byung-ho Park made his professional debut in 2005 at the age of 18 for the LG Twins in Korea, where he was seen by many as the next big thing. The year before, he led his high school team to a national championship, where he led the tournament in home runs with 10, and at one point hit 4 home runs in 4 consecutive plate appearances. A young hitter with prodigious power, Park was very much welcome on the power-starved team who finished with a disappointing 54-71 record, getting picked in the first round of the annual KBO Amateur Draft. However, at just 18 years old, Park struggled, hitting just .190/.265/.313 with 3 home runs. The LG Twins brought him back in '06, but he fared even worse, hitting a measly .162 before he went on military leave, a requirement for all Korean men of that age. Three years later, he resurfaced with the club, but the time off did not do him any good. In 2009, although he hit 9 home runs, he batted just .218, and did even worse in 2010, hitting an extremely disappointing .188. To the LG Twins, who so excitedly bought into the hype and power of the young slugger, he was beginning to seem like a major disappointment. After yet another disappointing start to the 2011 season, hitting .125 in his first 15 games, the LG Twins decided they had enough. They packaged him and swingman Soo-chang Shim to acquire dominant reliever Sin-young Song from the Nexen Heroes, who provided an immediate impact for the Twins. He pitched to the tune of a 1.99 ERA and became one of the bright spots in another struggle-filled season for LG. But Park and the Nexen Heroes got the last laugh. The change of scenery paid off, as Park fixed whatever problems he had and took off for the Heroes. He batted .265/.357/.535 with 12 home runs in 2011, before establishing himself as one of the premier KBO bats in 2012. He hit 31 home runs in 2012, 37 in '13, winning the league MVP both years in addition to the aforementioned combined 105 home runs in '14 and '15, leading him up to where he stands today, as a national celebrity in Korea and the possibility of coming stateside to the MLB.
This is a compilation of his home runs in his 5 years with Nexen, many of which were absolute moonshots:
At the conclusion of the 2015 KBO season, the Nexen Heroes have posted Byung-ho Park, and the Minnesota Twins put up the winning bid at $12.85 million. Rumor has it that, while not publicly available, his batted-ball exit velocities are right up there with the top talents in the MLB, ranking with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Randal Grichuk, and Paul Goldschmidt. His power has been said to be an 80-grade, and while that may be an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Park is one of the best power bats available on the open market, as evidenced by this 522 foot bomb (note the scouts reaction).
Of course, Park is not without his faults. Even in the KBO, whose equivalent is likely the Double-A level, he struck out 161 times in 140 games in 2015. His swing is simple with a bat plane that will generate lots of fly balls, leading to lots of home runs, but against more advanced pitching the uppercut may be exposed. The load in his swing is slightly unorthodox compared to most Americans, but his main components such as his weight transfer, hip rotation, and hands all look reasonably solid. As a first baseman, he is a solid defender with surprising athleticism and is not your typical lumbering, mashing first baseman. He has a 20 stolen base season under his belt and did take 10 bags this year compared to just 3 times caught stealing. However, unlike fellow country-mate Jung-Ho Kang, he will not have the same leash that some other players may have as he does not play a premium position like shortstop. His value is solely tied to his bat and power at first base, but expect him to produce. A good big league comparison would be Mike Napoli, another power right handed bat who plays decent defense at first. (Napoli, by the way, was a Gold Glove finalist at first base. While he likely isn't that good defensively, he certainly is no slouch with the glove.) If Minnesota gets the deal done, expect Park to hit around .235/.310/.440 with 25 home runs in his first big league year and being a contributor to an offensively sound Twins ball club. 

Here is a bonus video of Park hitting a 475 foot moonshot over the batter's eye to his own catchy theme song:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Young and Controllable Talent: Breaking Down the Karns for Miller Trade

On Thursday, November 6th, the Tampa Bay Rays dealt Nate Karns, along with C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell, to the Seattle Mariners for Brad Miller, Danny Farquhar, and Logan Morrison. Aside from being the first trade in what will sure be an exciting 2015-2016 offseason, this trade holds significance as an exchange of young, controllable talent. Karns is coming off his rookie season and will not be free agent eligible until 2021, and Miller, a shortstop/outfielder, is under contract through 2020. Rarely are two solid, young players who have yet to hit their peak dealt for each other, but this trade falls under special circumstances. As a right handed starting pitcher with above average stuff, Karns was an extra arm in a Tampa Bay rotation that features Chris ArcherJake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb once he returns from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. Brad Miller is a solid player in his own right, although he has been passed on the depth chart and in favor of the Seattle front office by up-and-coming shortstop Ketel Marte, and would be an expendable piece in a fairly solid lineup. Both players were replaceable yet talented pieces that did not fit in future plans for their original organizations.

Brad Miller has long been considered a breakout candidate for both fans and front office personnel alike. He possesses tremendous bat speed that translates to very high exit velocities off the bat. The hard contact leads to 15-20 home run pop now, and as he hits his prime could become even more than that. His walk rate, at 9.5%, has improved in each of his years in the big leagues and was consistently over 11% in the minors. The combination of patience, power, and touch of speed (13 stolen bases in 2015) make him a potential offensive threat. While Seattle has seemingly given up on Miller at shortstop due to excess of errors, Tampa Bay is willing to give him another shot to play at a premium position, and advanced metrics like UZR still think of him as a slightly above average defender at short. The Mariners have also had him play outfield to increase versatility and usefulness, although he struggled mightily defensively. The Rays received a talented bat primed for breakout that they will need to figure out defensively, but as a lefty, offensively skilled middle infielder, the rewards could be huge. Even in 2014, his worst season so far in his young career, he has been able to change the game with his bat, speed, and glove with plays like these: 

Danny Farquhar and Logan Morrison are two other pieces that fell out of Seattle's favor following mediocre 2015 campaigns. Farquhar was brilliant in 2014, with 10.3 K/9 and just 2.8 BB/9 for a strong 2.66 ERA that solidified the back end of the Mariners bullpen. However, he struggled to replicate that success. His fastball velocity dropped, and along with it his strikeout rate and effectiveness. His walks rose and so did the fly balls, leading to a career high in home runs given up. His ERA and FIP both went up, at 5.12 and 4.60, respectively. However, if there is any team that can reinvent relievers and make them good again, it's the Tampa Bay Rays and renowned pitching coach Jim Hickey. Morrison, a former top Marlins prospect, has yet to fully tap into the potential he once had, but now at age 28 he has settled in as a decent hitter who can provide some left handed power. Against right-handers, he hit well, with a .244/.323/.444 slash line and all 17 of his home runs, but he was abysmal against lefties, hitting just .190 with nonexistent power. He struggled defensively as well, but will likely provide the Rays with some pop to replace or play alongside incumbent James Loney.

Nate Karns, a big right hander with top-notch stuff, should slot in nicely in the Seattle rotation behind the likes of Felix Hernandez and James Paxton. He has a hard, 92-96 mph fastball that has good movement as well as a filthy knucke-curve and usable changeup. A big part of his success this season was mixing in all three of his pitches effectively instead of relying on the hard fastball, and it showed with his 3.67 ERA and an 8.9 K/9 that, if qualified, would rank 7th in the American League behind David Price. He had injury issues as a prospect in the Nationals system, but has semingly moved past that and his 6'3'' 230 lbs. frame should be durable for the Mariners this season. Here is a video of his first start as a Ray, using his fastball effectively to the tune of eight strikeouts.

C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell are two prospects that could make an impact in Seattle in 2016. Powell is an on-base machine, drawing walks and spraying hits all around the field. After putting up very impressive numbers in the A's system in 2014, they dealt him to Tampa Bay, and he hit well in AA and AAA combined. Powell slashed .295/.385/.392, putting his elite on-base skills on display adding on to his solid defense. His biggest weakness however, is that despite his speed, he is not a very successful base-stealer. In 2014, he had a success rate of just 51.6% before improving ever so slightly to a 56.3%. He must tighten up his efficiency to become a base-running threat that will be respected by pitchers and catchers in the major leagues, but at the very least his bat and glove will carry him there. Riefenhauser is a left handed reliever who has struggled in his brief big league trials, but is deserving of a larger role going into next season. He has consistently posted strong strikeout rates in the minors, a testament to his above average slider that can put hitters away. His fastball only sits in the high 80's however, so expect him to be a solid LOOGY at best.
Here is a video of Boog Powell taking batting practice, courtesy of FanGraphs:

Overall, this was a balanced deal that filled holes on both rosters with young talent that were blocked in their original organizations. Trades like these are rare but could pay giant dividends for both teams if these players reach their full potentials.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Hypothetical Offseason Plan for the Oakland Athletics

The Oakland A's SB Nation site,, is holding an exercise for readers to take control of the team in the offseason and write up a scenario in which they would like the off season to plan out. This is my take on how it would go.
My offseason plan is centered around the assumption that while the A's would like to compete in 2016, it is not an absolute necessity and it would be a year to develop the young players such as Billy Burns, Mark Canha, and Marcus Semien while transitioning in the new influx of talent. It will include several buy low candidates in free agency as well as acquiring some young talent and selling high in trades.
Arbitration-eligible (with projected salaries from MLBTR):
Explain the toughest calls if necessary:
Eric Sogard should be tendered to a contract, as the $1.3 million should not make much of a difference. He is a viable bench option and, at that price, may still be cheaper than free agent options such as old friend Cliff Pennington. Remember that the FO once gave Nick Punto a two-year deal. Sogard, a fan favorite, at $1.3 million should at least be given a shot in spring training. Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry are both basically extra pieces for the A's and should be deemed unnecessary. Ike Davis is coming off a serious injury, and while it wouldn't hurt to see him come back to get a look in ST, $3.8 million is a steep price to pay for a try out with Ravelo, Olson, Nunez, and Healy on the way. Evan Scribner will cost barely over the league minimum, and it wouldn't hurt to give him and his elite K/BB ratio another shot to cut down the HRs.
Impending free agents (re-sign, let go, or qualifying offer?):
  • Edward Mujica: Made $4.75MM in 2015 - Thank you for everything you have done for us. Your services are no longer needed.
No. 1: Josh Reddick (4 years, $52 million). Reddick has more value to the Oakland A's then he does on the trade block, as the A's highly value his glove and bat. At an annual value of 11-12 million an year to stay with the A's, it is likely just as much or even more than he might get on the open market. He is expected to earn about 7 million on arbitration this season, and 13 million is a hefty raise.
No. 2: Brett Lawrie (5 years, $42 million). Lawrie is a breakout waiting to happen, with so much physical projection and power to be unleashed. He can hit, he can play defense, and is just 25 years old. He may have struggled with an OBP hovering around .300, but he is a few adjustments away form being an absolute monster for the Oakland A's.

Free agents
No. 1: Wei-Yin Chen (4 years, $50 million). Chen has been a consistent part of Baltimore's rotation the last four years, getting his fair share of strikeouts and limiting walks. As a fly-ball pitcher whose only major concern is home runs, he would be a great fit in the spacious, and a lefty pitcher who can occasionally run the fastball up to 96 mph with a good slider is a welcome fit to this rotation. He would cost the A's their Competitive Balance pick though, as he will surely be extended a QO by the Orioles.
No. 2: Greg Holland (3 years, $14 million, split $1 mil in 2016, $6 mil 2017, $7 mil 2018 with $9 million mutual option for 2019). Greg Holland has been one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball the last 5 years with the Royals, being a big part of their shutdown bullpen. Unfortunately, he damaged his elbow and now requires Tommy John surgery and was non-tendered since he was projected to earn $11 million in arbitration. It is very likely that the Royals already have a deal in place that would allow him to rehab in 2016 before returning to the bullpen, but with this offer Oakland could blow them away. It is a high risk contract, but the A's have been willing to pull the trigger in the past as with Eric O'Flaherty. TJ is not a guaranteed recovery, but even this season he has shown the ability to pitch injured with diminished velocity. Doesn't a bullpen of Doolittle and Holland sound nice to you?
No. 3: Austin Jackson (2 years, $13 million). While Jackson has been largely inconsistent over the course of his career, with too many strikeouts and not enough walks, he is a reasonably cheap option for the A's to pick up and fill the hole in left field. He will likely produce a .260/.320/.410 slash line with 10 HRs and 10 stolen bases, which is decent value and upside for more at the young age of 28.
No. 4: Jerry Blevins (2 year, $8 million). An old friend of ours and key cog in the 2012 playoff run, Blevins is coming off a series of freak injuries. He may have struggled a bit the last two seasons but has kept his peripherals intact and should help bridge the gap to Doolittle, Dull, and hopefully Greg Holland.
No. 5: Jimmy Rollins (1 years, $6.5 million). Rollins offensive production fell off a cliff this season with the Dodgers, but the veteran shortstop can still produce. He still has some speed and pop left in him, and with his hometown team Oakland, he could possibly have a late career renaissance. At worst, he fills in the utility infield role, rotating between short, second, and DH.
No. 6: Cliff Lee (1 year, $2.5 million with incentives running up to $9 million). Cliff Lee has been hurt the last few years in Philadelphia, and with his $12.5 million buyout of the club option the Phillies paid him, there's no guarantee that he will even pitch this season at 37 years of age. An incentive-laden deal gives the A's an option to who can still rack up strikeouts while keeping the walks down exceptionally well. He may not be the ace he was once, but a pitcher of his status can still be better than many of our back of the rotation options.
No. 7: Domonic Brown (MiLB deal with ST invite). Brown, a former #1 overall prospect, has scuffled with the Phillies throughout his career. He has been the poster boy for everything that has gone wrong for the organization, as he was the major hope, the sure thing that didn't pan out. Still just 28, Brown has some power upside that the A's could use, and he is just 2 years removed form a season where he slashed .273/.324/.494 with 27 home runs and could be a viable platoon bat 4th outfielder to take a flyer on.
Nos. 8 and 9: Ernesto Frieri and Bobby Parnell (MiLB deal with ST invite). Frieri and Parnell are both former top relievers who have recently fallen upon top times. Frieri has been bitten by the home run bug as his career 55.2% fly-ball rate finally caught up to him. Parnell needed Tommy John and rehabbed for most of 2014 and the beginning of this season, with diminished velocity and increased walk rate when he did take the field. Both relievers could be lottery tickets to benefit from the spacious and shore up the bullpen that was a hot mess this past season.
Nos. 10 and 11: Chris Parmelee and Conor Gillaspie (MiLB deal with ST invite). Both hitters are just 28 years old with upside remaining. Parmelee is a patient power hitter who fits the A's mold. If you are looking for another Brandon Moss, this guy may be it. Gillaspie is more contact-oriented, and he can play second and third, possibly spelling Brett Lawrie every once in a while, and he is just a year removed from posting a 110 wRC+.

No. 1: Trade Jesse Chavez and Bruce Maxwell to the Dodgers for Jharel Cotton and Willie Calhoun. Jesse Chavez is a rumored favorite of Farhan Zaidi, and he could be a good fit as a starter or swingman for a loaded Dodgers team. The Dodgers may be the only team in baseball who could ride his strong starting for the first half then convert him to a reliever in the second half and keep dominating. They also show a trend of acquiring good defensive catchers who can pitch frame and have some offensive upside, and that is something that Bruce Maxwell can appeal to the Dodgers. Jharel Cotton is a favorite of many on AN, and for a good reason too. He combines a good strikeout rate with low walk rate and three above average pitches. He would probably start the season in Nashville before moving up later with Sean Manaea. Calhoun was the Dodgers fourth rounder this season after bashing 31 HRs in junior college this season. He has proved in the low levels in his debut that he can really hit, but where to place him defensively would be a challenge that the A's could readily accept.
No. 2: Trade Danny Valencia to the White Sox for J.B. Wendelken and Nate Jones/Jake Petricka. Jones and Petricka are two entirely different styled pitchers, but they would serve the same purpose. Both are hard throwing set-up men, although Jones lives by the strikeout and is coming off TJ and Petricka is a ground ball machine with lower K-rate. Wendelken is a near big-league ready hard throwing righty in the minors who has a good stuff and can get K's with a reasonably low walk-rate. They could help shore up the bullpen that struggled mightily last year.
No. 3: Trade cash to the Blue Jays for Steve Delabar. Delabar is coming off a bad season, but he can still throw hard and get strikeouts. He should be a viable candidate to acquire cheap and help the pen.
Final 25-man Roster
2B: Joey Wendle, Brett Lawrie, Jimmy Rollins
3B: Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien
SS: Marcus Semien, Jimmy Rollins
LF: Austin Jackson, Coco Crisp
RF: Josh Reddick
Bench: Josh Phegley, Coco Crisp, Jimmy Rollins, Eric Sogard/Dominic Brown/Conor Gillaspie/Chris Parmelee

Rotation: Sonny Gray, Wei-Yin Chen, Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Cliff Lee
Depth: Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Aaron Brooks, Jharel Cotton, Sean Manaea

Bullpen: Sean Doolittle, Nate Jones/Jake Petricka, Ryan Dull, Drew Pomeranz, Jerry Blevins, Fernando Rodriguez, Steve Delabar/Ernesto Frieri/Bobby Parnell/Sean Nolin/J.B. Wendelken

According to this plan, the A's will try to develop their young talent while keeping the core intact and attempting to compete. This lineup is well rounded and solid defensively as well, with more help on the way inform of Matt Olson, Renato Nunez, Chad Pinder, and others. Of course, no one knows what Beane, Forst, and co. have up their sleeves, so let's just close our eyes and hope for the best.