Oakland Athletics Rumors

Oakland Athletics trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL Notes: Russell, Hudson, D’Backs, Rockies

Cubs prospect Addison Russell tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Jane Lee, that he “was a little shocked” and “confused” when he learned he had been traded by the Athletics last summer. “I was kind of flying through the farm system and playing well at each level and looked forward to playing with the A’s for several more years,” Russell said. “The trade just really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it. It definitely would’ve been cool to play at the big league level with the team that drafted me.”

Here are a few more notes from the National League:

  • Diamondbacks righty Daniel Hudson still does not know what his role will be going forward, as Zach Buchanan and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic report. Hudson is coming off of two consecutive Tommy John surgeries and rehab stints, and the team is still evaluating whether he will be able to continue ramping up his workload to open the year as a starter.
  • The Diamondbacks “have no urgency to go out and get anybody” at catcher, GM Dave Stewart says (quote via the above-cited piece). Arizona is still confident in its depth options and “encouraged by the improvement” shown by prospect Peter O’Brien.
  • It appears that the Rockies will have some tough decisions to make in rounding out their bench. GM Jeff Bridich said today that the club intends to carry thirteen arms, “maybe more often than not,” as Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. Rolling with a baker’s dozen on the hill likely means that the club will need to part with an outfield option, as Charlie Culberson, Brandon Barnes, and Drew Stubbs will presumably be allocated only two bench spots (with the other two going to Daniel Descalso and whichever catcher is off that day). As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported earlier today, none of that trio is out of options, though Stubbs is a 5+ service time player so is not a candidate to be sent down. One player who does lack options, however, is backstop Michael McKenry, who would seemingly be on the outside looking in with just four position-player reserves — despite the fact that the team gave him just over $1MM to avoid arbitration.

Minor Moves: Escalona, Head, Rowland, Stock

Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports several new minor league transcations (all coming via Twitter). Let’s take a look…

  • The Giants have signed hard-throwing right-hander Edgmer Escalona to a minor league pact, Eddy reports. Though Escalona didn’t appear in the Majors least year, the Orioles thought enough of his arm to give him a Major League deal in the offseason. Escalona, 28, has a career 4.50 ERA in exactly 100 innings in the Majors, but he posted a 5.80 ERA from 2012-13 with Colorado. Though he averages just under 94 mph on his heater, he’s only whiffed 6.4 hitters per nine innings in the Majors.
  • The Athletics released corner infielder Miles Head after a pair of injury-plagued seasons in which he batted just .233/.292/.352 at Double-A. Head was one of the prospects sent to the A’s from the Red Sox in the Josh Reddick-Andrew Bailey swap prior to the 2012 season and has previously ranked among the organization’s 10 best prospects.
  • Right-hander Robby Rowland has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals, per Eddy. Formerly a third-round pick of the D-Backs (2010), Rowland has yet to pitch at a level higher than Class-A Advanced. He has a lifetime 5.28 ERA in the minors with 5.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. Rowland turned 23 in December.
  • The Astros have signed righty Robert Stock, says Eddy. Stock is a converted catcher who was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals in 2009 when Houston GM Jeff Luhnow was still their scouting director. Stock is clearly still a work in progress on the mound, as he’s walked 6.9 hitters per nine innings at two different Class-A levels.

Quick Hits: Ferrell, Heyward, Cardinals, Fuld

Forty-seven-year-old prospect Will Ferrell showed his versatility by playing all 10 positions for 10 different clubs during a whirlwind single-day tour of several Arizona Spring Training camps, an event was dedicated to raise funds for the Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer For College charities.  Ferrell’s day included two at-bats (both strikeouts), a helicopter landing in center field, serving as the Cubs’ third base coach and actually recording an out during his 1/3 inning of work on the mound.  Ferrell was in such demand that he even switched teams within games, so it’s probably just a matter of time before the phenom inks a nine-figure contract.

Here’s some slightly more serious news from around the game…

  • Six of seven general managers polled by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman don’t see Jason Heyward landing a contract in the $200MM range next winter, though one of the naysaying GMs was open to the possibility if Heyward had a huge season.  Heyward brings youth (he turns 26 in August) and elite defense into his walk year, though it seems like he’d need a big power season to make $200MM a realistic possibility.  Most of the GMs and assistant GMs Heyman spoke to thought Shin-Soo Choo (seven years/$130MM) or Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years/$153MM) could be good comparables for Heyward’s next deal, though one GM noted that Heyward’s price could be elevated by the general lack of strong position player talent in next year’s free agent market.  MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently placed Heyward second in his 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings, behind only Justin Upton.
  • If Heyward’s price tag does approach $200MM, it will probably mean the Cardinals won’t re-sign him, some of the GMs noted to Heyman.  The Cards seem to have a player contract “limit of around $120 million,” as that was their outlay for Matt Holliday and around what they were willing to pay Jon Lester and Max Scherzer this winter.
  • A’s outfielder Sam Fuld discusses how he deals with the pressure of constantly fighting for spots on Major League rosters in an interview with Nico of the Athletics Nation blog.
  • In his latest piece for Gammons Daily, Peter Gammons cites the Dodgers as the “clear winner” of the 2014-15 offseason, praising Andrew Friedman for adding a great deal of flexibility and depth to the club’s roster while also bringing several good baseball minds into the front office.


Poll: Where Will Hector Olivera Sign?

It’s been a whirlwind week on the Hector Olivera front, as the 29-year-old Cuban infielder switched agents earlier this week and is said to be weighing offers of four to six years in length, with the ultimate price tag expected to land around $50MM as recently as last night. Per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez — who discussed Olivera and other Cuban players with Jeff Todd on the MLBTR Podcast last month — Olivera has received strong interest from the Dodgers, Braves, A’s, Marlins, Padres and Giants. To this point, the Braves have made an offer and are reportedly interested in the $30-40MM range, while the Padres are said to be considering an offer worth upwards of $50MM. Olivera has already conducted physicals for the Braves, Dodgers and Padres, and possibly other clubs as well. Let’s take a quick look at how he’d fit on each of the reportedly interested clubs…

  • Dodgers — The Dodgers have Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe at second and third base, respectively, which are Olivera’s two best positions. Uribe is a free agent next winter and could shift into a super utility role, as he has plenty of experience at shortstop and second base in the Majors as well. However, much of his value has come from his suddenly excellent work at third base over the past two seasons, and the Dodgers may have to use Alex Guerrero in a super utility role due to his contract, which allows him to refuse an assignment to the Minors.
  • Braves — Olivera could step directly into Atlanta’s lineup at second base, as he’d be an upgrade with the bat over likely starter Alberto Callaspo and potential utility player Jace Peterson. Braves fans will point out that Jose Peraza is believed to be the long-term answer at second, but he’s at least a year away, and Olivera could always unseat Chris Johnson at third base; Johnson posted just a .292 OBP with little power last year and is not well-regarded defensively.
  • Athletics — The A’s will likely use Ben Zobrist at second and Brett Lawrie at third this year, though Zobrist could be used in the outfield, presumably left field, if Olivera were signed. Zobrist is only controlled through this season, so Olivera makes sense as a long-term option for the A’s at second base.
  • Marlins — The Marlins’ infield situation is crowded, and there’s no spot opening up for the next two years, barring a trade. Still, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported last night that Miami is comfortable in the $50MM range with Olivera and believes he could handle all four infield spots. Per Frisaro, the Fish would like to rest Mike Morse one or two days per week and also would like to spell Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop from time to time.
  • Padres — Olivera would likely start over one of Jedd Gyorko or Will Middlebrooks at second or third base. It’s possible that Middlebrooks could eventually wind up playing first base, depending on how well Yonder Alonso hits this season. The two could at least platoon, one would imagine, allowing Gyorko and Olivera to handle second and third (each player can handle both positions).
  • GiantsJoe Panik looks to be their second baseman this season, but much of Panik’s 2014 success was driven by a .343 BABIP that may be too high to repeat, and he doesn’t offer much in terms of power or speed. Even if the Giants feel Panik is the long-term answer at second, they could shift him to a bench role this year and slide Olivera over to third next year after Casey McGehee becomes a free agent.

It’s possible that another club will enter the mix unexpectedly, as Olivera’s agency shift has reportedly expanded the level of interest. (His previous agents had been touting a $70MM goal.) However, at this point, these appear to be the six top landing spots, which seems like plenty of fuel to conduct a poll.


Hector Olivera Weighing Four- To Six-Year Offers

Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is weighing offers that range from four to six years in length and could come to terms with a team this week, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Sanchez’s sources indicate that the Dodgers, Braves, Marlins, Padres, A’s and Giants have all shown a strong interest in Olivera, who will turn 30 early next month.

Olivera’s market has been anything but typical, as while scouts believe he’s Major League ready and could hit 15-20 homers with strong OBP marks right out of the gate, he also comes with myriad health issues and underwent a late change of representation, switching to the Legacy Agency’s Greg Genske earlier this week. Olivera has a blood disorder that at one time caused clotting in his biceps but is said to be cleared up now, and a report last week indicated that he may have damage to his ulnar collateral ligament as well. Olivera maintains that he is completely healthy, and multiple teams, including the Braves, Dodgers and Padres, have already conducted physicals.

Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro hears that Olivera’s price tag is expected to land in the $50MM range, and the Marlins are comfortable making an offer in that vicinity (though he does not specify the number of years, and clearly, $50MM over four years would be drastically different than $50MM over six). As for where he would play in Miami, Frisaro notes that the Marlins believe Olivera could handle all four infield positions, and the team would like to get Mike Morse a day or two off per week. They’d also like to keep Adeiny Hechavarria fresher at shortstop by resting him periodically.

Reports last night indicated that the Padres were weighing an offer that was worth “upwards of $50MM,” though no length of contract was specified. The Braves also reportedly have an offer on the table to Olivera, and their comfort zone is reportedly in the $30-40MM range.


AL West Notes: Hultzen, Locker, Featherston, Beane

Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen, once considered one of the game’s best pitching prospects, made his first competitive outing today since early 2013. Hultzen has struggled with shoulder issues, but obviously remains a talented and potentially quite valuable player for Seattle. He walked the first batter he faced — understandably so, as it was Troy Tulowitzki — but worked out of the inning without incident.

More from the AL West:

  • The Angels have no interest in making use of their rights over retired NFL quarterback Jake Locker, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Los Angeles signed Locker for $300K back in 2009 despite knowing he was destined for a career in football, and he is still only 26 years old. But GM Jerry Dipoto indicated that the club has “enough going on” as it is, noting that he is generally not inclined to pursue players who prefer another sport.
  • Rule 5 pick Taylor Featherston has a good chance of breaking camp with the Angels, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. Dipoto says that he thinks another club would take a shot on Featherston were he to hit the waiver wire, and fully acknowledged that the Rule 5 status gives him a leg up in earning a utility role.
  • ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) provides an interesting look at Athletics GM Billy Beane, explaining that the longtime head baseball man in Oakland is consis.tantly “selling high and trading quality in exchange for quantity that he hopes will turn into quality.” That was never more evident than in the last year, of course. While some of that “quantity” may not pan out, of course, Beane is often first able to deal it away for other useful pieces.

Padres Considering Roughly $50MM Offer For Olivera

The Padres are positioning themselves as a favorite for Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, considering an offer worth upwards of $50MM, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. The Braves, A’s and Dodgers remain in the mix for Olivera, per Passan, but Atlanta and Oakland have balked at this level of financial commitment. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have yet to determine whether they want to make an aggressive bid for the 29-year-old Olivera.

As Passan notes, in spite of the high profile acquisitions of first-year GM A.J. Preller this winter, the Padres’ infield is a significant question mark. Scouts believe that Olivera can handle either second or third base, where the team respectively projects to start Jedd Gyorko and Will Middlebrooks.

The Padres aggressively pursued fellow Cubans Yasmany Tomas and Yoan Moncada this offseason, with Passan noting that they were so enamored with Moncada that they offered an invite to MLB Spring Training and a chance to win a spot on the Major League roster right out of the gate.

The Dodgers have Howie Kendrick and Juan Uribe slated to play second and third base, respectively, this season, but both are free agents at season’s end. The question in signing Olivera would be where to play him in the interim, as scouts believe that he’s capable of stepping into a Major League lineup almost immediately and providing excellent OBP marks with 15 to 20 home run power.

It’s been a heavy day in terms of Olivera news, with reports indicating that the Padres (along with the Dodgers and Braves) have already performed physicals on Olivera. The Braves are said to have made an offer for Olivera, though based on Passan’s report, it doesn’t seem like their offer is of the same magnitude as the offer currently being weighed by the Padres. Earlier this morning it was also reported that Olivera had fired his previous agents and signed on with Greg Genske of the Legacy Agency.


Out Of Options Players: AL West

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I’ve included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR’s sources.  Today, we’ll take a look at the AL West.

Astros: Chris Carter, Alex Presley, Luis Valbuena, Sam Deduno

Presley is vying for the Astros’ fourth outfielder job, competing with Robbie Grossman.  Grossman is off to a hot start in four games this spring, but he has options.  That and a $1MM contract make Presley the favorite, unless the Astros trade him.

Deduno is competing with Asher Wojciechowski, Roberto Hernandez, and Dan Straily for the Astros’ fifth starter job.  He was knocked around on Friday, but none of the others have distinguished themselves.  Deduno’s lack of options should help him make the team in some capacity, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.  Drellich also noted that Brett Oberholtzer‘s lat strain is a factor.

Angels: Drew Butera, Johnny Giavotella, Cesar Ramos

Butera is expected to serve as the Angels’ backup catcher behind Chris Iannetta.  Giavotella, acquired from the Royals in the offseason, is part of the Angels’ second base competition this spring.  He’s battling with Josh Rutledge, Grant Green, and Taylor Featherston.  According to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez last Friday, two or even three of these players will make the team.

Ramos’ spot in the team’s bullpen is secure.

Athletics: Fernando Abad, Jesse Chavez, Sam Fuld, Evan Scribner, Stephen Vogt

Chavez seems guaranteed a spot on the pitching staff, whether in the rotation or as the long man.  Abad seems locked in as well.  Scribner is in the mix for a bullpen spot, which will become a tighter squeeze if Chavez doesn’t make the rotation.  Jeremy F. Koo of Athletics Nation had a strong A’s bullpen breakdown a week ago.

Mariners: Dustin Ackley, Erasmo Ramirez, Justin Ruggiano

Ackley will platoon in left field this year with Rickie Weeks, while Ruggiano is expected to pair up with Seth Smith in right field.

Ramirez is competing with Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias, and Kevin Correia for the Mariners’ fifth starter job, and he’s not considered the favorite.

Rangers: None


AL Notes: Rays, Viciedo, Reddick

Since taking over as the Rays‘ head of baseball operations, Matt Silverman has taken the somewhat unusual step of polling a small group of key players (including Evan Longoria and Alex Cobb) so that their voices can help inform his decision-making, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Silverman consulted with players about hiring new manager Kevin Cash, as well as on other moves. “It opened up conversations about their feelings not just on the manager position, but the organization and how it operates,” says Silverman. “And I believe those conversations led to some outcomes, and to better dialogue between the front office and the clubhouse. … There are certain things I learned that I wasn’t aware of, and wouldn’t have known, given my prior position [as team president].” Here’s more from the American League.

  • Dayan Viciedo was taken aback by the White Sox‘ decision to release him, but he’s landed on his feet after signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the Associated Press reports. “I was slightly surprised because I thought I had an agreement in place to stay there, but I understand it’s a business,” Viciedo says. “You have good days, you have bad days. I took it in stride. I’m not upset. It kind of surprised me at first but everything had worked out and is OK.”
  • Athletics manager Bob Melvin says outfielder Josh Reddick will be out for two weeks with a right oblique strain, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Reddick will then have to take additional time to prepare to play, which means it’s questionable whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day. In the meantime, the Athletics will take looks at a variety of players in right field, including Rule 5 pick Mark Canha and newly-claimed (or, rather, re-claimed) former Red Sox farmhand Alex Hassan. Billy Burns, Jason Pridie, top prospect Matt Olson and perhaps even first baseman Ike Davis will also get looks. From the outside, though, the Athletics’ opportunity to get a better sense of what they have in Canha, who hit an impressive .303/.384/.505 with Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins’ system last year, looks like the clearest silver lining to Reddick’s injury.

AL West Notes: Hernandez, Andrus, Crisp, Athletics

Astros righty Roberto Hernandez has finally received his visa an is set to report to spring camp for a physical, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart tweets. Hernandez has a bit of catching up to do if he hopes to make the roster after inking a minor league deal earlier in the offseason.

Here are some notes from the AL West:

  • A rough 2014 season for Elvis Andrus of the Rangers has left some looking askance at his eight-year, $120MM extension, which officially kicks in this season. As the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com), Andrus says that he is ready for a better campaign after reporting out of shape last year. “This year I took it a thousand times [more] seriously than I did the year before,” he said. “… That was an offseason that I hope never happens again. In spring training I wasn’t ready.” A turnaround from Andrus would go a long way toward restoring the once-promising trajectory of the Rangers, to say nothing of his own. It would also increase his appeal as a trade chip, though Texas no longer has quite the middle infield logjam it once did.
  • Coco Crisp is set to play left field this year for the Athletics, manager Bob Melvin tells reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That shift, which was occasioned by a desire to protect the team’s investment in Crisp by reducing the toll on his body, will result in Craig Gentry and Sam Fuld platooning in center. In turn, that probably also puts an end to the notion that Oakland could look to acquire a second baseman and move Ben Zobrist to the outfield.
  • While it is hard to deny (and not entirely surprising) that the Athletics got less back for Jeff Samardzija than they gave to acquire him (along with Jason Hammel), the team feels good about the young players that it picked up from the White Sox, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes“Look, both of those deals are difficult,” said assistant GM David Forst. “You never like trading a guy like Addison [Russell], but Jeff and Jason filled a particular need for us at that time. Then to turn around and lose Jason and feel like trading Jeff is the best option is never an easy decision to make. Jeff is a guy who has his best years ahead of him still. He’s right at the age you want to get a pitcher. He knows his game. His stuff is without question. It was not an easy decision to make. It was part of the balancing act we are forced to make.”