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This option is not presented as a means to abandoning efforts to win this season.
Clearly Josh Willingham has the most—and perhaps the only one who has any—value among A's hitters, and there have been no talks between Willingham and the A's regarding an extension.
With an influx of close-to-ready minor league outfielders, it doesn't really make sense to keep Willingham beyond this year, so trading him—only when the A's decide that trying to win this year is fruitless—makes too much sense. And remember, Willingham is only hitting .237—a career .260 hitter—whose power should not be overvalued simply because the A's currently have none.
Trading someone like David DeJesus, who is also a free agent after the season, makes sense, regardless of the team's place in the standings because it would help them both this year and beyond.
It would free up at-bats for Sweeney and Jackson, or perhaps, someone else in the minors who would be hard-pressed to hit worse than Dejesus. The only problem is DeJesus has little trade value at this point. I mean, who is looking for a Punch-and-Judy hitter who isn't hitting?
It has gotten to the point where trading away their more established veteran hitters would not be calling it quits on the season; rather, considering how they they have hit, it would allow them to play other youngsters who both have a future with the club and could very well outperform them right now.
The A's in the offseason clogged up their lineup with middle-of-the-road veteran hitters with little upside, and the worst possible scenario has occurred: they haven't hit.