Oakland Athletics Rumors

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

Trade Notes: Tulo, Swihart, Hamels, Marrero, Samardzija, Swisher, Upton

Here are the latest pieces of information on the trade front from the morning’s action at the Winter Meetings:

  • The Rockies approached the Mets today to gauge interest in discussing star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Martino’s sources tell him a deal that would send Tulowitzki to the Mets is “not happening.” On the other hand, Colorado’s actions obviously suggest that there is at least some possibility that the club would consider dealing him.
  • The Phillies would not demand that the Red Sox include top catching prospect Blake Swihart in a deal involving Cole Hamels, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter.
  • Were the Red Sox to make a push for Jeff Samardzija, however, the Athletics would insist on the inclusion of shortstop prospect Deven Marrero, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • Nick Swisher of the Indians is available in trade, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, but there has been minimal interest to date.
  • The Mariners could “circle back” to the Braves regarding Justin Upton if the team does not land free agent Melky Cabrera, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But Seattle is highly unlikely to sacrifice one of its prized young arms in a deal for Upton, he adds.

Pirates Claim Josh Lindblom, Outright Angel Sanchez

The Pirates have claimed righty Josh Lindblom off waivers from the Athletics, Pittsburgh has announced. Oakland recently designated him for assignment.

In a corresponding move, the Bucs outrighted right-hander Angel Sanchez to Triple-A. Sanchez was claimed by Pittsburgh back in July. He has yet to appear above the Double-A level.

As for Lindblom, the 27-year-old saw just one MLB appearance last year. He tossed 84 minor league innings, working to a 5.79 ERA with 6.4 K/9 versus 2.8 BB/9. Lindblom has played in parts of four major league campaigns.

Indians Acquire Brandon Moss

In a widely anticipated swap, the Athletics have officially agreed to ship outfielder/first baseman/DH Brandon Moss to the Indians in exchange for minor league second baseman Joe Wendle.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox

Moss, 31, is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $7.1MM this year, his second-to-last of arbitration eligibility. He is an accomplished power bat, with a 135 OPS+ and 76 home runs over the last three years.

But those figures have trended downward in each successive campaign. Then there is the fact that Moss’s value is limited by his poor defense in the outfield. Most worryingly of all, he has dealt with a significant hip issue that required offseason surgery.

The Indians will gladly roll the dice on a recovery, especially since the club will have a chance to decide whether to tender Moss after the season. Moss’s manageable salary offered the chance for Cleveland to add the big bat that many felt they needed, while his health questions lowered the ask. As Jordan Bastian of MLB.com rightly notes on Twitter, Cleveland may well need to do something to clear its logjam of first base/corner outfield type players.

For the A’s, this deal represents the latest sign that GM Billy Beane is firmly committed to cashing in assets that no longer have much potential to accumulate value and/or improve production. Moss joins Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes as former core players who have been moved by Oakland in recent months.

Wendle, a 24-year-old prospect, did not rate among the Indians’ top ten prospects in the recent estimation of Baseball America but did land at ninth on MLB.com‘s most recent list. Wendle’s calling card is his hit tool, with which he combines decent power and solid defense. A broken hamate bone cut the 24-year-old’s season short, but he had put up a .253/.311/.414 line over 370 Double-A plate appearances and owned even an even more robust slash the prior year at High-A.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported on Twitter that the teams’ prior talks were nearing completion. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported (Twitter links) that the deal was done, with Wendle making up the return. John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group first reported the connection between the clubs on Twitter, while Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle first reported that Oakland was interested in Wendle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AL Notes: Moss, Samardzija, Yankees, Tigers

Here’s a morning links roundup from the American League:

  • The Athletics are still “inching” toward a deal with the Indians on Brandon Moss, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. A swap is likely to go down over the next few days, Sherman adds.
  • Clubs that have spoken with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija have been left with the impression that Oakland would not be willing to grant an extension negotiation window as part of the deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. That is perhaps not terribly surprising, as Samardzija does not appear particularly likely to forego a chance at testing the open market.
  • For the Yankees, one side benefit of adding Martin Prado (last summer) and Andrew Miller (just a few days ago) is that it conveys leverage in talks with now-free agent third baseman Chase Headley and closer David Robertson, Sherman writes. While New York is now willing to put a fourth year on the table for both players, says Sherman, it will not match the reported four-year, $65MM offer out to Headley or the $50MM+ asking price of Robertson.
  • While there are several intriguing possibilities for the Tigers at the Winter Meetings, the odds are that the team will make only smaller moves,  if any, per Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iott takes a look at Detroit’s various options for improvement, concluding that most are rather unlikely to take place.

AL East Notes: Yankees, Stubbs, O’s, Marrero

The Yankees aren’t looking into the Padres‘ trio of starters (Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and former Yankee Ian Kennedy) right now, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  San Diego is known to be listening to offers on the three right-handers but the Yankees aren’t sure any of them are actually available.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Rockies contacted the Orioles about a trade that would’ve sent Drew Stubbs to Baltimore in exchange for pitching, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports (Twitter link).  The departures of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis has left the O’s thin in the corner outfield spots, with Alejandro De Aza, David Lough and Steve Pearce (who will also see a lot of DH time) as the current candidates.  The right-handed hitting Stubbs seems like a good complement for De Aza and Lough, who both hit left-handed.
  • In an interview with MLB Network Radio yesterday (hat tip to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun), Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette said he is looking to add catching depth.  Matt Wieters may not be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in time for Opening Day, so the O’s may pursue a veteran backup to at least share the job with Caleb Joseph.
  • Prospect Deven Marrero makes sense as a trade chip for the Red Sox to offer to teams in need of a young shortstop, though WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports that the Mets and Athletics have doubts that Marrero can hit enough for an everyday role.

AL West Links: Cashner, Samardzija, Kazmir

Here’s the latest from around the AL West…

  • Padres righty Andrew Cashner “remains the top target” for the Rangers in trade talks, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cashner comes with two years of control and with a modest price tag (MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects him for a $4.3MM salary in 2015 through arbitration) that would provide the payroll space for the Rangers to make further moves.  Cashner, a Texas native, has reportedly told friends that he would like to pitch in his home state.
  • The White Sox look like the favorites to acquire Jeff Samardzija from the Athletics, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  The two sides were known to have recently discussed a deal involving the right-hander.
  • One AL executive predicts to Joel Sherman of the New York Post that “Billy [Beane] is going to move at least one, maybe both” of Samardzija and Scott Kazmir since both pitchers will be free agents after the 2015 season.
  • The Mariners have had modest payrolls in recent years but that has changed thanks to an influx of local and national TV revenues, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes.  The club has been aiming for 2015 as its “Holy Grail” season when all the new TV money would be in place and the team can freely spend.  Robinson Cano‘s mega-deal last winter was the first step, of course, and this offseason has seen the M’s make two more expensive moves in extending Kyle Seager and signing Nelson Cruz.
  • MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth shared some more AL West Notes yesterday evening.

Quick Hits: Red Sox Pitching, Gregorius, Pirates, A’s

The Red Sox could avoid damaging, long term contracts to starting pitchers, suggests Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. There are as many as seven or eight high quality hurlers on the trade market with one year of club control. Boston can trade from its depth to acquire one of those names – like Jeff Samardzija – rather than commit big money to Jon Lester or assume Cole Hamels‘ contract.

  • Along a similar vein, the Red Sox don’t need Lester, writes Tony Massarotti of Boston.com. The Sox do need pitching and Lester is one of the best starters available. But the market is flooded with great substitutes. If the bidding on Lester goes beyond a reasonable comfort zone, why not look at a more affordable alternative?
  • The Pirates have at least $15MM to spend and would like to add a starting pitcher, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, and Vance Worley are the current rotation members with Charlie Morton expected to open the season on the disabled list. The club recently added Clayton Richard on a minor league deal for depth, and Pittsburgh is expected to finalize a deal with Radhames Liz soon. Both are viewed as insurance rather than an opening day rotation candidate. The club is keeping close tabs on Francisco Liriano and would like to re-sign him.
  • Didi Gregorius might not have the right psychology to thrive with the Yankees, opines Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. McManaman spoke with a scout and ex-teammate who both said Gregorius can let things get to him. In the New York pressure cooker, that could be a problem. McManaman also criticizes Gregorius’ bat, but I’m more optimistic on that count. He hits relatively well (for a shortstop) against right-handed pitchers and his defense easily makes up for his other offensive shortcomings. He’s demonstrated surprising pop on occasion and a slightly fly-ball centric approach. Those should play very well at Yankee Stadium.
  • The A’s have a busy offseason ahead of them, writes Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Traditionally, they use the Winter Meetings to lay groundwork for future trades. A deal involving Brandon Moss is already in the works, and Samardzija is expected to receive plenty of attention. Oakland would like to find a shortstop with one of those two players. They may turn to the free agent market to add a right-handed reliever. Buy low candidates like Jason Grilli, Casey Janssen, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano fit the club’s modus operandi.

AL Central Notes: Plouffe, Donaldson, Hahn

Veteran reporter Dick Kaegel is retiring after over 50 years covering Major League Baseball.  Mike Bauman penned a nice tribute to his MLB.com colleague, chronicling Kaegel’s long career with such outlets as MLB.com (as the Royals beat writer since 2004), the Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Sporting News, to name a few.  Kaegel’s work is very familiar to long-time MLB Trade Rumors readers, and we at MLBTR wish Kaegel all the best in his retirement.

Here’s some news from around the AL Central…

  • The Twins had yet to discuss a multiyear contract with Trevor Plouffe up to Tuesday’s tender deadline, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.  Plouffe is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and is projected to receive a $4.3MM salary in 2015 by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.  Since Plouffe is a Super Two player with two more arb years left beyond this one, it makes sense that the Twins will eventually explore obtaining some cost certainty, though it might not be this winter given that Plouffe fractured his forearm in September.
  • The Indians were one of several teams who asked the Athletics about Josh Donaldson, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  The A’s said Donaldson wasn’t available, though that obviously ended up not being the case as the third baseman was dealt to the Blue Jays.  Pluto wonders if the Tribe could’ve topped Toronto’s trade package had Donaldson been more openly shopped, or if A’s GM Billy Beane specifically liked what the Jays had to offer.
  • Primarily, we are addressing things for the long term,White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) in advance of the Winter Meetings.  That said, the Sox made a very notable short-term move in signing veteran Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal, and “if the right situation arises on a short-term basis…we would make that move,” Hahn said.  “We are certainly open to short-term fits that make us better in 2015. We have to take it on a case-by-case basis in terms of players who aren’t necessarily going to be under control for the same three-, four- or five-year window we’ve been focused on for the last year and a half.”

Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

Indians Optimistic Of Completing Brandon Moss Trade

10:00pm: If the trade gets done, it will likely be a one-for-one swap sending a player that is not on Cleveland’s 40-man roster to the A’s, reports Hoynes. That would rule out Ramirez and Gonzalez and indicate that Wendle could be the return for Oakland.

DEC. 5, 2:05pm: The two sides have yet to reach a deal but have discussed shortstops Jose Ramirez and Erik Gonzalez in addition to Wendle, reports Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area. Presumably, only one of that grouping would head to Oakland in a potential trade.

10:25pm: The A’s are interested in Indians second base prospect Joe Wendle, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Wendle hit .265/.326/.425 in 396 plate appearances while battling injury. He spent most of the season at Double-A. Meanwhile, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets that negotiations should reach a conclusion on Friday, one way or another.

DEC. 4, 5:13pm: The Indians “are guardedly optimistic” that they can complete a deal for Moss, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

DEC. 3, 9:01pm: The Indians are not the only club looking into adding Moss, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. A move does not appear to be imminent, she adds.

3:48pm: The Athletics are “listening” to the Indians on left-handed slugger Brandon Moss, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports on Twitter. Moss, 31, is capable of playing first base or the corner outfield, and is an obvious DH candidate as well.

For the Indians, a run at Moss makes sense, particularly if the team views him as a plausible candidate to spend regular time in the outfield. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his offseason outlook for Cleveland, the team could add a new outfield piece while utilizing Nick Swisher in a pure DH role. Alternatively, if Swisher himself were to be moved, then Moss might make sense as a hitting-only player.

Moss appeals due both to his recent success and his controlled salary (a projected $7.1MM in his second-to-last year of arbitration eligibility). He took a step back at the plate last year, due in part to hip issues that were addressed by offseason surgery, but he was still well above-average. His three-year slash line stands at .254/.340/.504, good for a 135 OPS+, with Moss contributing 76 home runs over 1,381 plate appearances.