The Oakland A's record is disappointing two months in, so naturally, there's already chatter about the team trading stars.
Stephen Vogt and Josh Reddick are in the top 20 in weighted runs created plus (wRC+). Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez and Scott Kazmir—the first two of which are in the top 11 in fielding independent pitching (FIP)—have pitched incredibly well and could certainly help any rotation.
Ben Zobrist is a consistent hitter who can play outfield and infield positions.
Teams in need of relievers could even inquire about Tyler Clippard or Evan Scribner, two of the team's better relievers this season. If brave enough to deal with Sean Doolittle's shoulder, a team could have interest in the All-Star closer as well.
If they're sellers, the A's have plenty of options to move.
Here are the rumors surrounding each guy in the news along with a brief case for what the team should do.
The loudest noise being made involves one Ben Zobrist.
"Zobrist, a Joe Maddon favorite who played for the Cubs manager for nine years in Tampa Bay, would dramatically alter the look of a Cubs bench in shambles and allow Maddon to rotate days off for at least five starters he's been forced to play almost every inning," Wittenmyer wrote.
Wittenmyer goes on to say that sources tell him A's general manager Billy Beane is not open to trading Zobrist or other top players away yet.
The A's are 12 games back of the division-leading Houston Astros and nine games back from a wild-card spot. It's worth noting that on May 30, 2012, the A's were nine games back in the division and finished in first place on the last day of the season. So a major comeback is not out of the question.
Perhaps it's overly simplistic to say, but four good months outweigh two poor months.
Beane isn't wrong to hold out hope.
To this point, the A's are 3-15 in one-run games. An error here, a poor bullpen performance there, and the team loses a close game. Iron out the errors (the A's brought in Ron Washington to work with shortstop Marcus Semien) and the bullpen woes, and those one-run losses could easily turn in the A's favor.
It's not like the team is being blown out night after night. It's been shut out five times. It's shut an opponent out seven times.
And when it comes to hitting, Zobrist has been one of the best.
As for defense, there isn't anyone more important than Zobrist.
His versatility allows him to play the middle infield and both corner outfield positions. This allows a team like the A's—who mix, match and platoon like mad men—the ability to utilize Zobrist's bat and keep him on the field when others rest or are injured.
Adam Kadourhe of the Gold Jersey Dynasty Talk Radio podcast believes that because of Zobrist's talents and impending free agency, Beane should deal him now regardless of the win-loss record.
Zobrist is obviously coveted, and for good reason. But it's for that reason Beane should consider holding on to him above most of the other options. He's too valuable to lose in a postseason push.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo speculated the A's could be one of the first to become sellers assuming they don't turn things around. Cafardo calls Kazmir "the prize" of the bunch.
Cafardo is correct from a business standpoint.
Though it could be argued Chavez is still somewhat unproven as a starter, as of right now, he has the sixth-best FIP in all of baseball, better than notable pitchers like Gray, Felix Hernandez and Matt Harvey. So the cost could be higher. Also, for what it's worth, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times believes the Los Angeles Dodgers may have interest in Chavez.
With Gray, there's no doubt it'll take a king's ransom to net the 25-year-old ace.
At 31, Kazmir could simply be the most cost-friendly pitcher the A's have in terms of the prospects it would take to net him. It'd take less to get him than Gray. It could take less to get him than Chavez, too, but even if it does take more, he's pitched better overall on a longer timeline.
If there's a guy the A's could get away with dealing, it's Kaz.
They'd lose the compensatory pick, sure, but they'd gain one if Zobrist leaves this winter. So it'd be a nice mix of comp picks plus acquired prospects. Drew Pomeranz or a returning A.J. Griffin could fill Kazmir's rotation spot. (The hope would be they're close to as effective.)
In fact, as Kadourhe argued above regarding Zobrist, I'd argue the same for Kazmir.
Various other names have been whispered about as well.
The A's would be foolish to trade Gray this soon due to his talent, age and affordability. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports agrees with that sentiment and does not believe it will happen this year.
Due to his health, Coco Crisp is not going anywhere.
Doolittle began the season with a shoulder strain, returned, pitched one inning and landed back on the shelf. He has much to prove before teams inquire about him seriously.
Billy Butler's contract could make him challenging to move, especially considering he's trending downward. But if he gains steam, it could become an easier sell.
How about Vogt, who is in the thick of a career year? According to Peter Gammons, Beane told a fellow GM in late May, "I'm not trading Vogt. Period."
With the way he's hitting so far and a history of Gold Glove defense, you'd think Reddick is a quality candidate to be traded while he's young, cheapish and controllable. Scouring the Internet, you'll find his name mentioned in the same sentence as "trade," but no one has definitively linked him to a team.
In fact, most have simply said, "He is good, therefore he could be traded."
There are two sides to trading Reddick. One says keep him, let him continue to build on what we're seeing this season and then flip him when his value is higher. The other may contend the team should swap him out now while his value is at its peak.
If at the end of June, the A's are scuffling, trading Reddick isn't a terrible option.
Of course, if that's the case, then trading anyone not named Gray isn't a terrible option.
Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.