After spending the entire offseason upgrading every portion of the Athletics roster, it’s time for Billy Beane to work the phones and finish the one loose end he failed to tie up.
The Athletics offense has been inconsistent so far this season with one of the biggest disappointments being the man who Beane tried to replace repeatedly during the offseason, Kevin Kouzmanoff.
Beane pursued Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion and Chone Figgins as potential replacements for Kouzmanoff.
Kouzmanoff said all of the right things following the A’s pursuit of seemingly every available replacement on the market. He entered spring training with a chip on his shoulder, and came into the regular season boasting one of the best spring performances on the A’s roster.
Unfortunately he has not carried his Cactus League performance into the regular season.
The answer to the A’s third base and offensive struggles is currently playing for Billy Beane’s early-career mentor, new Mets' general manager Sandy Alderson.
The best and most obvious answer to Oakland’s one remaining problem is a trade for New York’s David Wright.
(To the best of my knowledge no talks have taken place between the Mets and A's at this point. This is just my opinion based on speculation of the two teams situations and needs).
Wright, at 28 years old, possesses a career batting line of .305/.383/.516 (.899 OPS) with 171 career home runs. Last season Wright batted .283 with 29 home runs and 103 RBI. So far this season Wright is batting .311 with two home runs.
In previous seasons Wright was considered an untouchable, the face of the New York Mets and the unofficial captain of the team. The fallout from the Bernie Madoff scandal and the Wilpon ownership has removed the “untouchable” label from every Met, Wright included.
“If you're going to listen to the new GM and he's going to tell you [it will] bring back five pieces or something, then I guess you have to listen. I'm not saying we're going to do it, but you'd have to listen," Wilpon told ESPN’s Adam Rupin back in October.
Wright wishes to stay in New York and be a part of the solution rather than for a trade to a contender, but with the Mets in a total state of disarray any number of potential suitors will come calling this summer for his services, why shouldn’t Oakland be one of them?
The Wilpons appear determined to retain ownership of the Mets, which will require them to cut payroll reportedly in half down to the $70 million range. Wright is set to earn $14 million this season, $15 million in 2012 and the Mets have a team option for $16 million in 2013. Oakland can afford to instantly pick up the option as a sign of good-faith to Wright. Yordy Cabrera, the A’s second round draft pick in 2010 and top third base prospect, is at least three years away from reaching Oakland anyway.
If they are to cut their payroll and rebuild to become competitive again in the near future then they will need to shed Wright’s hefty price tag in exchange for lower cost prospects with upside that will help the Mets in near future while remaining affordable and under team control for several years.
Oakland, meanwhile, has the financial flexibility to take on such a cost and also has several pieces the Mets could use moving forward.
While I am only speculating who Alderson may ask in return for Wright, I believe the conversation obviously will start with pitching, and include position player prospects as well.
Would a package of Tyson Ross, James Simmons, Adrian Cardenas, Ryan Sweeney and a mid-level prospect get it done? Would it at least be a starting point? Would Michael Taylor still have enough value to make an impact on such a deal? Perhaps Max Stassi would impact the Mets decision if he were a “toss-in” to the deal?
Would A's fans be willing to part with one of the young starters currently in the rotation in exchange for a bat? If so, which one is expendable: Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill or Brett Anderson?
The bullpen also has expendable players this season, giving Oakland several options to put together a package that could sway the Mets into a deal.
I don’t see Oakland trading Chris Carter, Michael Choice, Grant Green, Jemile Weeks or Michael Ynoa; beyond them, though, I don’t see any untouchables in the A’s system.
The A’s can afford to make a few moves this season without completely depleting their farm system.
Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, David DeJesus, Mark Ellis and Hideki Matsui are all free agents at the end of the season who should come with at minimum Type-B status, giving Oakland several compensatory picks in the 2012 draft should they fail to re-sign any of these players. The A’s could also decide to trade any of these players to contenders if they are unable to make up ground to the Rangers and Angels by the trade deadline and pick up additional prospects right away.
As previously mentioned, the Mets new general manager is familiar with Billy Beane, as is the Mets assistant general manager, J.P. Riccardi.
Alderson was the GM of the Oakland A’s when Billy Beane was hired by the A’s front office. Alderson mentored the younger Beane and helped shape his approach to evaluating talent and building the A’s teams of the early 2000s. Riccardi served as Beane’s assistant until he was eventually given a gm-opportunity of his own with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The biggest question mark in the whole deal would be how Wright would respond to a trade from his hometown Mets. David Wright is “Mr. Met” after all, the player who was drafted by the team he grew up rooting for, and who has spent his entire career with.
There would be an adjustment period, Wright would need to adjust to playing on the West Coast rather than the East Coast. He would need to adjust to playing in the American League compared to the National League. He would need to acquaint himself with players that he only has had experiences with in interleague play.
Imagine the benefit to the A’s lineup short and long-term though. If a trade could be pulled off without losing any of the current A’s position players you now have the following lineup:
CF: Coco Crisp
RF: David DeJesus
3B: David Wright
LF: Josh Willingham
DH: Hideki Matsui
1B: Daric Barton
C: Kurt Suzuki
2B: Mark Ellis
SS: Cliff Pennington
There’s your instant boost to the offense, and given the defensive struggles Kouzmanoff has had at third base this season, your defense as well.