Offseason Trades Fuel Athletics’ Success

Only two American League teams have a better record than the Athletics, even though they traded away their closer and two top starting pitchers for a collection of relatively unproven players after the 2011 season. Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey are all gone, but the A’s have a 71-57 record and are tied for one of the American League’s Wild Card berths with 34 games to go.

Though there’s no singular reason that the A’s have played this well, the team’s offseason trades could hardly be working out better. Billy Beane acquired one third of the team’s starting lineup, its setup man and two fifths of its starting rotation in deals this past winter. MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker offers a recap of these moves. Here’s the breakdown, featuring players on the team’s active roster:

  • Josh Reddick, acquired from Red Sox in trade for Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney – Reddick has been a major contributor to Oakland's offense this year, hitting 26 home runs and posting a .253/.321/.487 batting line. He has already been worth 4.3 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs' version of the metric.
  • Seth Smith, acquired from Rockies in trade for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman - Smith has posted a respectable .244/.344/.431 batting line with 12 home runs. He continues to produce against right-handed pitchers (10 homers). 
  • Derek Norris, acquired from Washington in trade for Gio Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam – Norris became the Athletics' regular catcher when Oakland sent Kurt Suzuki to Washington. He has five home runs but just a .272 on-base percentage in 158 plate appearances.
  • Ryan Cook, acquired from Arizona in trade for Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow – The 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.45 ERA with more strikeouts (60) than innings pitched (55). He averages 95 mph with his fastball and 11.8% of his offerings generate swings and misses. Cook, a 2012 All-Star, picked up 12 saves earlier in the year.  
  • Jarrod Parker, acquired from Arizona in trade for Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow – Parker has a 3.52 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 135 1/3 innings this year. Peripheral stats such as his 43.9 % ground ball rate and a 9.8% swinging strike rate are also encouraging.
  • Tommy Milone, acquired from Washington in trade for Gio Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam – Milone has a 3.73 ERA with four times as many strikeouts as walks in 159 1/3 innings. 
  • The A’s also traded for a number of minor league players, including Brad Peacock and Collin Cowgill.

Oakland currently has a 51% chance of playing in the postseason, according to Baseball Prospectus’ postseason odds report. But even if the A’s don’t qualify this year, last winter’s trades should have an impact in future seasons. Smith will be second-time arbitration eligible this offseason, but Reddick won’t be arbitration eligible until next offseason. The others — Norris, Cook, Parker and Milone — are at least two years away from arbitration eligibility. Not only are these players contributing, they’re doing so at a time in their careers when they’re relatively affordable. That creates flexibility which makes a difference in any market and should be especially valuable in Oakland.


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26 Comments on "Offseason Trades Fuel Athletics’ Success"


rockfordone
3 years 2 days ago

It all starts for them tomorrow night– very tough Sept schedule – could end up under .500

FS54
3 years 2 days ago

you gotta do what you gotta do. I am going to be rooting for them since they have multiple ex-Nats.

3 years 2 days ago

They are 15 games over .500 right now and you think they might finish under .500? That is almost mathematically impossible. Keep underestimating. That is what everyone has been doing all year and they keep winning.

halflink123
3 years 2 days ago

Have to tip my hat to Beane. He has made some trades that make you cringe (1 year of Matt Holiday for CarGon, Huston Street), but this offseason he went for high ceiling guys (Parker, Cespedes, Reddick), he was panned at the time but he added a lot of talent

rainyperez
3 years 2 days ago

No, it’s not mathematically impossible because of how many game there are in September. He never said it was going to happen just that it could happen.

I have many A’s friends as fans and none of them could predicted that record. No one could have predicted that they would be where they are at.

As for underestimating I’m sure no one is anymore. Everyone already sees what great pitching they have. Whether the young arms hold up is another question.

3 years 2 days ago

Yeah, that’s why I said almost. It’d have to be an epic collapse.

Karkat
3 years 2 days ago

I can’t imagine what an epic September collapse would be like.

3 years 2 days ago

didn’t that happen to the redsox last year? isn’t that happening to them this month?

Karkat
3 years 2 days ago

Wow, I really didn’t think I needed to mark that as sarcasm.

3 years 2 days ago

I’ll also add that I never predicted them to do well either. I was in the 70-win range. Just enjoying the ride now.

rainyperez
3 years 2 days ago

I think it’s great! I just want the A’s to troll the MLB/Selig and make it to the World Series.

I will root for them in the World Series as long as it isn’t against the team I root for.

oaktownas650
3 years 2 days ago

This team has chemistry. Everyone contributes, I mean everyone. No one is above anyone else. There are no superstars, just young guys trying to prove themselves Getting thrown in the mix very early in their careers and backed by a few veterans. You’re right, in September the A’s have one of the toughest schedules. But if they manage to make the playoffs after playing such difficult teams… watch out for Oakland.

melonis_rex
3 years 2 days ago

except they’ve actually been just fine at beating the good teams this season.

.500 or better against every AL contender this season.

A collapse is possible (because it always is until the team mathematically clinches), but as always, not likely.

Karkat
3 years 2 days ago

Well, they have a 51% chance of playing in the “postseason,” if we’re really going to include the play-in game there. It’s going to take a while before I stop putting the quotes around “playoffs” when referring to the new wildcard.

Regardless, the A’s have had the second half I’d hoped the Sox would (they were both 43-43 at the All-Star Break), so I gotta hand it to them for their work so far. I’m just glad I don’t see my friend from Oakland much anymore -_-

1980CHAMPS
3 years 2 days ago

I still don’t get how Cahill is billed as a top of rotation guy and why he was able to fetch so much.

corey23
3 years 2 days ago

he’s good (beane)

vtadave
3 years 2 days ago

I don’t think anyone ever billed him as anything more than a solid #3.

RepOak
3 years 2 days ago

Uh yea they’re actually 72-57 and have sole position of the first wild card spot :-)

22deputydo33
3 years 2 days ago

it is amazing how the a’s trade away their top players and are still around and in the hunt for a playoff berth. they might make it as one of the wild card teams,but i do not see them going all the way. they do not have enough big horses to get it done.

baseball52
3 years 2 days ago

The season after Moneyball came out. Oh the irony.

Iconoclast17
3 years 2 days ago

I remember some A’s fans were complaining that Beane didn’t get enough for closer Andrew Bailey. They claimed Reddick-Sweeney was a push. Well, Bailey finally got off the DL and Reddick has given new life both on the field and in the clubhouse to the team. In his first few months Josh hit more home runs than will Sweeney in his entire career.

And, Beane continues to make the under the radar acquisitions that helped bring the A’s a winner for the first time in 6 years—guys like Inge, Smith and a host of no-name relievers. Most importantly, the team began to move away from the passive walk-trollers like Derek Barton and Michael Taylor, giving HITTERS such as Brandon Moss and Chris Carter a real chance.

Beane’s made some questionable moves in the past, but everything he’s done since replacing his friend Geren with Bob Melvin has worked.

3 years 2 days ago

I remember reading that people said Reddick for Sweeney was even, but I was pretty sure anyone saying that had not seen both guys hit. Sweeney has never had anywhere near the power potential Reddick has (any pop Sweeney has ever had is strictly imaginary/speculative).

MadmanTX
3 years 2 days ago

Success? The A’s are still behind the Rangers and they won’t make the playoffs. That they are doing better than the Angels is more because the Angels spent unwisely. Must be something about LA those teams makes them want to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on declining players.

corey23
3 years 2 days ago

Logic >you

The angels are still doing good enough to be ahead of where the A’s ‘should’ be this year. 4 games back of first place is pretty successful at the end of august for a team with low expectations pre season.

We get it, texas is doing a good job balancing young talent and $$ players, no question the best in MLB… but give some credit where credit is due.

3 years 7 hours ago

3rd best record in the AL *is* pretty successful. Impressive even, considering the fact that they have the lowest payroll in MLB. Hats off to them for competing with teams that are spending 3 times more.

Richard D
3 years 1 day ago

The success the A’s are having, along with the national exposure, will make Oakland a more free agent-friendly team. I think players will want to play for Melvin.