Oakland Athletics Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News
Oakland heads into the offseason with team control over nearly all of its roster and back-to-back AL West crowns, so chances are that there will be more tweaking than wholesale changes going on under GM Billy Beane's watchful eye over the next few months.
Then again, Beane has thrown the baseball world a curveball that seemingly comes out of nowhere—such as the team's decision to sign Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes before the 2012 season—so it's wise for A's fans to be prepared for anything.
Keep it here for the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about the A's along with analysis and everything else that comes with it. While the post date will always show as Nov. 1, simply click to the next slide to see the latest on the A's as they put together their roster for the 2014 season.
Oakland's Free Agents and Done Deals
All the juicy rumors and analysis follow, but consider this your one-stop shop for all the comings and goings in Oakland this winter, including the status of the team's own free agents.
A's Free Agents
LHP Brett Anderson (Nov. 1: Team picked up $8 million option)
OF Coco Crisp (Nov. 1: Team picked up $7.5 million team option)
LHP Pedro Figueroa (Dec. 20: Released)
RHP Pat Neshek
2B Scott Sizemore (Nov. 22: Cleared waivers, elected free agency)
C Kurt Suzuki (Nov. 1: Team declined $8.5 million team option)
OF Chris Young (Nov. 22: Signed a one-year deal with the Mets)
Nov. 13: Signed IF Nick Punto to a one-year, $2.75 million deal (with a vesting option for 2015)
Nov. 25: Acquired LHP Fernando Abad from Washington in exchange for OF John Wooten
Nelson Cruz: A's Won't Be Signing Free Agent Slugger
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 7:35 p.m. ET
--End of Update--
Update: Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 8:55 p.m. ET
Susan Slusser from the San Francisco Chronicle cites a major league source who says that the A's have "meaningful interest" in Cruz. While Oakland's interest in Cruz is nothing new, the fact that he is seeking a four-year, $75 million deal, per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, would seemingly take the A's out of the running for the veteran slugger.
--End of Update--
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman says to not sleep on Oakland as a possible landing spot for free agent slugger Nelson Cruz, who would fill the team's need for a right-handed bat with power.
Cruz, 33, hit .266 with 27 home runs, 76 RBI and an .833 OPS over 109 games for the Rangers last season, and has slugged at least 22 home runs and driven in at least 76 runs in each of the past five seasons.
Once a reliable defender, the older Cruz gets, the worse his defense has become, which opens the door to him possibly splitting time between right field and the DH spot for the A's if a deal was to be agreed upon.
Yoenis Cespedes: Cuban Slugger Isn't Going Anywhere
Update: Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 7:32 p.m. ET
It would take a "huge offer" to pry Cespedes away from Oakland, says MLB.com's Jane Lee, noting that there isn't a team on the horizon that appears even somewhat interested in meeting the A's asking price for the Cuban sensation.
While you can never completely rule a Cespedes trade out (if Wayne Gretzky can be traded, anyone can be traded), it would be a major surprise if he didn't open the season in Oakland's starting lineup, either as the designated hitter or in left field.
--End of Update--
Update: Friday, Dec. 5 at 8:06 p.m. ET
The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser says that the A's "never came remotely close" to trading Cespedes, adding that whenever his name comes up, it's other teams asking about him—not the A's trying to move him.
--End of Update--
Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:29 p.m. ET
Oakland and Arizona discussed a potential trade that would have sent OF Yoenis Cespedes to the Diamondbacks in exchange for a package of players that included OF A.J. Pollock and highly-touted LHP Tyler Skaggs, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
He goes on to say that both teams were somewhat uncomfortable with how the deal was developing, and that Oakland would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return.
Oakland's acquisition of OF Craig Gentry from Texas likely squashes the need for the A's to explore a Cespedes deal, as Pollock would have served the same purpose—a solid fourth outfielder and insurance against Coco Crisp's potential departure as a free agent after the 2014 season.
Yet if a team were to overwhelm GM Billy Beane with an offer, the Cuban defector could find himself playing elsewhere in 2014.
Dec. 3: Acquired RHP Luke Gregerson
2013 Stats: 73 G, 6-8, 2.71 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 8.7 K/9, 4-for-9 SV
Contract Status: Arbitration eligible, free agent after 2014 season
Oakland had one of baseball's best bullpens in 2013 and the A's continue to bolster the unit, acquiring Luke Gregerson, who has been one of the best setup men in baseball since making his debut in 2009.
He keeps the ball on the ground, evidenced by a 45.5 percent groundball rate and relies heavily on his slider and sinker to get batters out, using his fastball to set up his secondary pitches. Owner of a career 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.1 K/9 and 3.29 K/BB, Gregerson is an excellent addition to what was already a tremendous bullpen in Oakland.
That the A's were able to land him for an expendable piece in Seth Smith, without having to move one of its young starters, leaves the door open for Oakland to use some of its pitching surplus to make another move down the road, perhaps at next week's Winter Meetings.
Dec. 2: Aqcuired RHP Jim Johnson
2013 Stats: 74 G, 3-8, 2.94 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, 50-for-59 SV
Contract Status: Arbitration eligible
Whenever you can fill a void by moving a piece that didn't really fit into your plans, it's a good move.
That's exactly what Billy Beane did with his trade of 2B Jemile Weeks to Baltimore for closer Jim Johnson, who can fill the void left by the now inevitable departure of Grant Balfour via free agency.
The A's moved an expendable piece in 2B Jemile Weeks to fill the ninth inning void created with the departure of Grant Balfour with Jim Johnson.
Johnson, expected to be awarded a salary exceeding $10 million in arbitration, has converted 101-of-113 save opportunities over the past two seasons, leading all of baseball with 51 saves in 2012 and tying with Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel for the MLB lead with 50 saves in 2013.
Since becoming Baltimore's everyday closer in 2012, Johnson has pitched to a 2.72 ERA and 1.15 WHIP with a 2.1 BB/9 and 6.3 K/9.
Dec. 2: Signed LHP Scott Kazmir
2013 Stats: 10-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 158 IP, 2.7 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
Contract Status: Two years, $22 million
After losing out on Tim Hudson, Scott Kazmir was Oakland's consolation prize.
A two-time All-Star with Tampa Bay, Kazmir exhibited the kind of swing-and-miss stuff for Cleveland in 2013 that made him one of the game's top pitching prospects and brightest young stars nearly a decade ago, before injury and ineffectiveness took it's toll.
After pitching to a 4.60 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over the season's first half, Kazmir got stronger as the season rolled along, allowing only one earned run in his final 14 innings in June, and he posted a 2.75 in July and a 2.57 ERA in September.
Did Oakland overpay for Kazmir, who has gone 6-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 13 career starts in Oakland? Perhaps, but in today's market, where Jason Vargas can command a four-year, $32 million deal and Phil Hughes can land a three-year, $24 million pact, this deal doesn't look bad at all.
With the addition of Kazmir to the mix, the window of opportunity for Bartolo Colon to return to Oakland has likely closed—and the trade winds that have been swirling around Brett Anderson will only grow stronger until he's finally dealt.
Jed Lowrie: Trade Candidate?
Update: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 12:17 p.m. ET
Oakland is not looking to trade Jed Lowrie according to manager Bob Melvin, who spoke with ESPN's Mark Kreidler:
"We're not looking to move Jed Lowrie...maybe the Cardinals made a call."
While you can never say never, it doesn't appear as if Lowrie will be heading anywhere but to spring training with the A's.
--End of Update--
Update: Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 1:55 p.m. ET
Peter Gammons reports that the Cardinals have interest in trading for Lowrie, who he notes would give St. Louis some length in its lineup.
While the overwhelming thought remains that the A's won't move Lowrie, St. Louis does have the deepest farm system in baseball, with no shortage of power arms and position prospects that could intrigue the A's.
--End of Update--
With shortstop prospect Addison Russell continuing to impress, hitting .307/.369/.467 with nine extra-base hits and 13 runs scored in 18 games for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, speculation has run rampant that the A's would look to move Jed Lowrie this winter, clearing a path for the 19-year-old on the major league roster.
Not so fast says Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who has been told that Lowrie is not going to be traded, as Oakland's plan all along was for the 29-year-old to serve as a two-year bridge to Russell, with the 2014 season being the second year of that plan.
If Russell continues to swing a hot bat with Triple-A Sacramento in the first half of the 2014 season, it's possible that the A's will look to move Lowrie at the trade deadline. Still, the far more likely option is that Russell spends the entire season in Triple-A, perhaps getting a taste of the big leagues when rosters expand in September.