Oakland Athletics

With Ben Sheets, Would the A's Compete For a Playoff Spot?

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  Pitcher Ben Sheets #15 of the National League All-Stars throws against the American League All-Stars during the 79th MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2008 in New York, New York. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2010

Billy Beane's aggressive offseason continues with Ben Sheets. Maybe Beane will actually sign a free agent this time:

"Confimed by ML source: #athletics have made "competitive" offer to Ben Sheets and hope to have answer today or Wednesday"

Even though the Athletics will have one of the smallest payrolls in baseball this year, GM Billy Beane has been aggressive so far this offseason by making strong offers to both Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro. Sure the Athletics failed to land both guys, but it's clear that the Athletics have money to spend. From an economic perspective, Ben Sheets does not appear to be out of the Athletics price range.

But if the Athletics are going to spend $8-$10 million dollars on Sheets, which could be more than 20% of the Athletics' payroll this year, then there has to be a good reason why Billy Beane would want Sheets. Sheets is viewed as a tremendous talent with lots of upside, but as we all know, Sheets is very injury prone and a near lock to spend some time on the DL in 2010.

The upside for the Athletics here is that they would add a potential ace to their rotation, who could lead their stable of young pitchers and probably force one or two of them back to AAA for more seasoning. But even if Sheets is healthy for the Athletics, how much better would the A's be? With Sheets on board, does anyone think that the Athletics are now contenders in the American League?

In my opinion, the Athletics, even with a fully healthy Ben Sheets, would not be serious contenders in 2010. The Athletics starting rotation would be awesome, but I'm not confident that the Athletics would have enough offensive firepower to compete with the Rangers, Angels, and Mariners.

However, given the money the Athletics have burning in their pocket and the limited number of players who fit their offensive needs on the market, going after Sheets is probably the best thing Beane can do right now to improve his team's chances of winning in 2010. Signing Sheets would be a risk for the Athletics, but if he pans out, then the Athletics could have a surprisingly competitive team or at the very least, a valuable commodity to trade.

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