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.

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