The A's trade for Stephen Drew is proof good deals can be made after the non-waiver deadline
Rumored to make a large move at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Oakland A's only made a minor tweak to their roster, adding infielder Alberto Callaspo for Grant Green.
But just because the A's did not make a major move does not mean one is still not possible in August.
Oakland's 2012 season found its final piece when the team acquired shortstop Stephen Drew from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 20 of last season after the non-waiver trade deadline. Though Drew signed with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason, his acquisition was proof that quality players can still be had in the waiver trade period.
That said, who could the A's land to help down the home stretch this season?
There are some interesting names still being floated about, but I have three in particular that Billy Beane could target to help the A's get to the tape in defense of its American League West title.
Here they are.
Lopez could balance out a bullpen in need of a steady situational left hander
Yes, A's fans, the first player on this short list comes from across the Bay.
The fading San Francisco Giants are not likely to make a heroic run at another World Series in 2013. The club might be willing to accept less for a player like lefty reliever Javier Lopez.
Lopez is just the kind of situational left-hander that the A's could really use. Jerry Blevins has had his struggles over the last two months and Sean Doolittle is the seventh-inning man in most instances. Lopez would be ideal for lefty-vs.-lefty matchups and would serve to strengthen the A's biggest strength.
In 2013, Lopez has held left-handed batters to a .172/.232/.234 (45 OPS+) batting line. The Giants owe him approximately $1.4 million for the remainder of the year and Lopez will become a free agent after the season. In other words, the A's would likely be looking at a relatively inexpensive situational reliever for the postseason.
Considering the potential left-handed bats that the A's could face in October and even down the stretch of the regular season (Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, James Loney, David Ortiz, Jason Kipnis, etc.), a player of Lopez's caliber could be vital.
A roll of the dice on Ruiz couldn't hurt the A's given their lack of production at catcher
Is there anyone on the Phillies who hasn't been/isn't rumored for a trade?
After going from 49-49 to 50-61 as the deadline came and went, the vultures surrounding this team have come back out. While the big names on the trading block (i.e. Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon) seem nice in theory, the reality is that the A's likely aren't in the market for them.
Who does that leave? Surprisingly, Carlos Ruiz.
The veteran catcher has had a dropoff in production from a big 2012 season. But despite being limited to just 51 games and a slash line of .257/.308/.311, Ruiz would bring value from the other side of the plate.
Unlike the A's catching platoon of Derek Norris and John Jaso, Ruiz is above average behind the plate, having played errorless defense and throwing out a decent 30 percent of runners trying to steal (compared to Jaso's 13 percent and Norris' 27 percent).
The A's margin of error is so slim this season that even a slight improvement in defense would go a long ways if this team returns to the postseason.
The A's need another bat. Rios is the best still available
Alex Rios is the No. 1 choice for the A's to acquire for two reasons.
One, the A's need another bat. I can't say that enough.
Josh Reddick and Chris Young's combined numbers are on par with that of the Chicago outfielder (14 HR, 67 RBI for Young/Reddick vs. 12 HR, 51 RBI for Rios). When you factor in the slump that Seth Smith has been mired in as Oakland's primary designated hitter (.125 average in July), the need only intensifies.
While Rios potentially brings a quality bat to the A's much like Stephen Drew did at the end of 2012, Rios' arrival in Oakland would prevent him from potentially going to the Texas Rangers, who will almost certainly step up their efforts after the MLB suspended slugger Nelson Cruz for the remainder of this season for receiving performance-enhancing drugs, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The AL West race will likely remain competitive well into September where the A's are not offensively powered by a single difference maker, but a collection of players who get hot at the right times. A player like Rios could be just what the doctor ordered, allowing the A's to put distance from the only challenger to their throne as champions of their division.
Ultimately, the A's biggest difference makers will be home grown
There you have it. There are actually many other players who could be had on the waiver market (Placido Polanco, Emilio Bonafacio, Carlos Villenueva), but those are the three that I think the A's could get who could have the most impact this season.
That said, the two biggest moves the A's are likely to make in their attempts to win big will not come from outside the organization. Those additions will be made by be recalling Sonny Gray from the minors and getting Brett Anderson healthy and back with the ballclub.
What the A's lack is any powerful arms in their rotation. Anderson is not Justin Verlander, but he is potentially the best complement to Bartolo Colon in a short series for Oakland. His performance in last year's playoffs was not a fluke. Unfortunately, neither is his propensity for injury.
On the other hand, Gray is still an enigma. I could see him being used various ways for a team that likely will need another arm or two to hold off Texas over the last 50 or so games. Gray will eventually be a starter, but he could come out of the bullpen in the meantime and assist an Athletics' bullpen that has been taxed a bit by uneven performances from the starting staff lately.
So, while there are some good players still on the market, the chances of them delivering something that would swing a title Oakland's way is remote. The reality is that the players currently on Oakland's roster must begin playing more like expected and as they showed they can do during stretches of May and June.
If that happens, anyone that Billy Beane acquires will likely have a chance to show what he can do in October.