Jed Lowrie (left) and Eric Sogard thought they'd be utility and both earned starting jobs. One keeps his, the other falls back to platoon.
You might consider the Oakland Athletics to be winners this offseason. You might say the flurry of moves they made were average. But each move had major implications—some good, some bad—for the individual players involved.
For example, certain guys held on to their role while others lost theirs. One guy in particular made out like a bandit with the money he'll make, while another essentially lost out on millions.
Then there's a certain piece of offseason news that affects the fans.
So who comes out of the A's offseason looking like a winner, and who heads to spring training wishing there was better news? Continue reading to find out.
Seth Smith touches home plate during an A's home game.
There are a few people that "somewhat win" and others who "kind of lose." You can find them here:
Luke Gregerson comes to a stronger contender.
Daric Barton remains with the Oakland A's.
Craig Gentry may see more playing time. Michael Choice may see more playing time, too, just with another team.
A's fans who don't want to see the team move win. For now, the situation is still up in the air, and the team remains in Oakland.
With Corey Brown arriving, Michael Taylor's days are officially numbered.
One of either Dan Straily or Tommy Milone will be the odd man out of the starting rotation.
Seth Smith goes to the San Diego Padres—less likely of a contender.
A's fans who want the moving issue resolved may be miffed. It looks like the timetable is wide open still.
Cook (left) and Doolittle (right) were candidates for the closer role. Were.
Once upon a time, it was believed that former A's closer Grant Balfour would cost too much to re-sign. Popular belief held that Oakland would turn to internal candidates and either Ryan Cook or Sean Doolittle would take over the reins.
Then the A's acquired closer Jim Johnson.
Then the A's acquired setup man Luke Gregerson.
Now, not only are the pair of Cook and Doolittle no longer candidates for closing duties, but neither may be the official setup man, either. Although, Cook does have a shot at that duty, and manager Bob Melvin could easily rotate between him, Doolittle and Gregerson at will.
Besides, Doolittle is already winning at Twitter, so if Cook remains in setup, then these two really haven't lost anything at all.
They'll have a shot at the coveted closer spot again in 2015.
After a one-year stint in Cleveland, Scott Kazmir joins Oakland.
Once upon a time, Scott Kazmir earned double-digit victories in five consecutive years. But in his final year with the Tampa Bay Rays, his ERA ballooned, and they traded him to the Los Angeles Angels. He pitched a little over two seasons in LA, earning an 11-17 record and a 5.31 ERA.
After making $12 million in 2011, he found himself out of baseball in 2012.
He was then lucky to net a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians a season ago.
But good for Kazmir. The guy made it to the big leagues once again where he finished 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA. And best of all for him, that performance convinced the Oakland A's to give him a two-year, $22 million deal.
That's the biggest win of his resurrected career so far.
Sogard will watch once again as some of his playing time goes to other guys.
Once upon a time, Eric Sogard was a utility backup. And then something strange (or not so strange) happened. Sogard hit .444 during the spring of 2013, impressing the organization enough to earn the starting role at second base.
As the season progressed, Sogard appeared to have the job in the bag. Hiroyuki Nakajima failed to meet expectations, and the team never brought Jemile Weeks back up. They then traded prospect Grant Green and long-time Athletic Adam Rosales. While it looked like it might be Sogard's job to keep, the A's brought in Alberto Callaspo to platoon.
In 130 games, Sogard hit .266 with 35 RBI and a 1.88 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Not too shabby.
Except, it seems it wasn't enough. The team held on to Callaspo and signed infielder Nick Punto. If that's not a clear signal that Oakland doesn't fully believe in Sogard, I'm not sure how that message could be more clear.
Lowrie had a career year in 2013.
Once upon a time, there was much chatter when it came to Jed Lowrie, shortstop for the Oakland A's. Whether it was talks of shipping him to the St. Louis Cardinals or moving him to second base and acquiring a shortstop, none of it has happened.
For now, Lowrie remains an Athletic. For now, Lowrie remains a shortstop.
There's still time to sign a free-agent shortstop and slide Lowrie over to second. That really wouldn't be a loss for either the organization or the player. But it doesn't seem too likely. Even less likely, if the A's were to trade Lowrie at all, it plausibly would have happened already at the winter meetings.
"Balfour Rage" is no longer an Oakland thing. But for now, the rage is on hold.
Once upon a time, closer Grant Balfour was a super-hot commodity deemed unaffordable for the Oakland Athletics.
Fast-forward to today.
Whether he did or didn't, the move hurt Balfour's chances of signing any kind of lucrative deal. He is now a 36-year-old pitcher with perceived shoulder issues. So, whereas he could have signed that two-year, $14 million deal the Orioles offered, he'll be lucky to receive a one-year deal in the $5-6 million range.
Jim Johnson replaces Grant Balfour in the A's pen.
Once upon a time, Jim Johnson saved 101 games. Actually, that just happened in the last two seasons. Now the A's hope he continues to keep ice in his veins and shut down opponents for them in close games.
Although, fans should hope the A's aren't in 101 close games. I digress.
Johnson wins because he stays with a contending team. The O's compete with three other major players in the division; the A's with two. And while Baltimore didn't want to pay him $10 million, Oakland is willing to.
So he'll make his money with a contender that wants him. And the A's fill a major void.
Meanwhile, Jemile Weeks gets a realistic shot at making a 25-man roster. He seemed to have fallen out of favor with the A's (how else do you explain it?), and the Orioles have an open competition for second base.