Oakland Athletics Rumors

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

AL Notes: Giavotella, Zito, Madson

Now with the Angels, infielder Johnny Giavotella is hoping for another chance in the Majors, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. Giavotella collected 465 plate appearances in parts of four seasons with the Royals, but never quite caught on, hitting .238/.277/.334 in the process before joining the Angels in a minor trade this winter. “In my opinion, Triple-A to the big leagues is the biggest jump, and there is an adjustment period to be had,” Giavotella says. “I never feel like I got that adjustment period to fail and make that adjustment.” Giavotella, who is out of options, is competing with Josh Rutledge, Grant Green and Taylor Featherston for the Angels’ second base job, which opened when the team traded Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Barry Zito now looks like a legitimate long relief option for the Athletics, Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com writes. “You take a year off … It’s pretty impressive what he’s doing,” says A’s manager Bob Melvin. After a year away from the game following an ugly 2013 season with the Giants, Zito signed a minor-league deal with the Athletics hoping to reestablish himself. He’s still hopeful he can make the team as a starter, although Stiglich suggests the bullpen is more likely.
  • Another minor-league signee, Ryan Madson, has impressed the Royals in camp, writes Doug Miller of MLB.com. “To come in, you look at it as a flyer, and then you watch and he’s got his fastball back up to 91, 92, he’s always had that devastating change. He’s a pretty interesting guy,” says manager Ned Yost. Miller notes that Madson, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011, likely won’t make the Royals out of camp, but he could be a name to watch after he’s spent some time at Triple-A Omaha.

West Notes: Ryu, Tomas, Butler, Rangers

The Dodgers have announced that they’ve shut down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation. He will be shut down for the next three days while the Dodgers determine the right course of action. Ryu had experienced shoulder tightness in his last start, during which his velocity was down. Ryu had similar shoulder issues last September, although he returned to pitch in the playoffs. There’s no indication yet that his current issues are serious, and Ryu (via a tweet from J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group) believes the injury should not keep him from being ready for the start of the season. The Dodgers could consider having him begin the season on the disabled list, however, as the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin tweets. The Dodgers don’t require a fifth starter until April 14. Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Yasmany Tomas chose the Diamondbacks over other teams in part because he liked their front office, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Giants were the runners-up in the bidding for Tomas, writes Piecoro. “At the end of the day, he said, ‘I really like those people,'” says agent Jay Alou of Diamondbacks execs Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart, De Jon Watson and Junior Noboa. “These are baseball people. They get it. I think Yasmany appreciates that.” After committing $68.5MM for Tomas, the Diamondbacks now appear to be quietly considering having Tomas start the season in the minors, although they offer guarded praise for his abilities. “I really believe that a number of us in the organization believe that he could hit,” says La Russa. “If we were short and he had to play, at the end of the year he would survive.”
  • The Athletics‘ seemingly incongruous addition of Billy Butler in the offseason actually makes sense, Tony Blengino of FanGraphs writes. While Butler’s 2014 season wasn’t a good one, his underlying numbers suggest a player whose ability is closer to his .289/.374/.412 2013 season. Blengino suggests Butler has a decent chance of being as good as or better than Nelson Cruz next year, although the two players’ offensive profiles are quite different.
  • The Rangers‘ prospects give the team a bright future, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The team still has Jorge Alfaro, Alex “Chi Chi” Gonzalez, Keone Kela and to power-hitting prospect Joey Gallo in big-league camp. “I think they are still getting something out of being here,” says GM Jon Daniels. “Some of these guys are not very far away at all.” Relief prospect Kela has wowed scouts with his stuff, Grant says — Kela can throw 100 MPH and now also has a quality breaking ball.

Hector Olivera Likely To Sign By End Of Week

Cuban infielder Hector Olivera is “likely” to sign by the end of this week, agent Greg Genske tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Olivera is still looking for a team to promise him a sixth year, the report indicates.

The Braves have reportedly put in an offer of four years and $40MM that is said to be “behind the pack,” per Heyman’s source. Multiple other clubs have reportedly shown a willingness to guarantee five years, possibly over $50MM, though Heyman says that the precise value (and source) of the other bids are not known.

Among the other clubs that have shown interest, of course, are the Dodgers, Padres, and Giants. Heyman says it is unclear at this point how involved the Marlins and Athletics are, though recent reports indicated that Miami still has interest at seven years and $50MM, perhaps representing a lower AAV than Olivera prefers.



AL West Notes: Hamilton, Angels, Street, Kirkman, A’s

Josh Hamilton‘s recovery from shoulder surgery has lowered the urgency felt by commissioner Rob Manfred to reach a quick decision on a potential suspension, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times“Because Josh isn’t in a position where he’s going to be on the field, it has made the timing a little more relaxed,” Manfred told reporters. Manfred and the MLBPA have debated how many times it should be ruled that Hamilton has violated the Joint Drug Agreement, and at this point, the commissioner said that Hamilton’s fate is in his hands. “I’m the decision-maker on this one,” he said.

More from Hamilton’s team and division…

  • Within that same piece, DiGiovanna writes that both Matt Joyce and C.J. Cron have expressed desires to be more than platoon players. While that could be possible with Hamilton through at least May, DiGiovanna notes that Collin Cowgill will likely get some starts in left versus tough lefties, which will likely cost Joyce some at-bats. Manager Mike Scioscia said that the team “definitely” want Cowgill and Cron in the lineup against lefties. The situation figures to intensify by the time Hamilton is back, though at least at that point, the Halos will have had more time to make some determinations.
  • Angels closer Huston Street won’t be speaking with the media any more about his extension talks until the deal is complete or almost complete (if one is agreed to at all), writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Street is seeking a four-year deal worth between $36MM and $46MM, beginning this year and running through the 2018 season. To this point he’s been very open with the media, but it sounds like there won’t be any further updates until something more final can be revealed.
  • MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets that the release of Michael Kirkman by the Rangers was the biggest surprise in camp so far, but the team wanted to give him the opportunity to hook on with another club. Kirkman still has three weeks to land somewhere and impress enough to position himself for a bullpen spot.
  • A’s manager Bob Melvin didn’t know anything about right-hander Kendall Graveman when he was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade, writes Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, but the skipper went right to work on researching his new rotation candidate. Now, Melvin knows plenty about Graveman and offered strong praise for the righty, who, as Bloom notes, is making a strong case to make the Oakland rotation out of camp.

West Notes: Romo, Harrison, Athletics, Padres

Giants reliever Sergio Romo left no doubts about how glad he is to be back with San Francisco, as Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com reports (Twitter links). “It was like, we can get this done in five minutes, for real,” Romo said of his free agent stance towards the Giants. “Call me up.” Though other clubs offered him a chance to return to a closing role, Romo says he “just didn’t want to go anywhere.”

Here’s more from the game’s western divisions:

  • Rangers lefty Matt Harrison feels increasingly confident in his ability to make it back to the big leagues, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes. Now working his way up to a full-size mound, Harrison still faces a difficult road in his return from spinal fusion surgery. “I don’t think about [retirement] anymore,” Harrison said. “It would definitely be hard to do without giving it another shot. The more I learn and the more I understand the rehab, I feel good about the possibility of getting back to a five-day rehab.” Obviously, any future contribution from Harrison — who is owed owed $41MM between now and 2017 (including a buyout on an option for 2018) — would be welcome news for a Texas club that has been beset by a variety of pitching injuries in recent years.
  • New commissioner Rob Manfred says a new ballpark for the Athletics is a priority, as the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). While Major League Baseball will remain involved, Manfred said that he is not sure how much influence it can have on the process and said he prefers the team to work with Oakland on a solution.
  • Padres owner Ron Fowler vetoed a June 2013 proposal from the team’s baseball executives to make a bid to acquire Cliff Lee, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Then just ten months into his chairmanship, and overseeing a front office led by then-GM Josh Byrnes, Fowler decided the move did not make sense given the team’s overall situation and Lee’s expense. San Diego had been hovering at .500 at the time, but quickly fell back and out of contention that year, and obviously the move could have had significant long-term repercussions as things turned out.

Latest on Hector Olivera

Yesterday, we learned agent Greg Genske of The Legacy Agency believes his client, Hector Olivera, will sign soon with several multi-year proposals under consideration. The Dodgers, Braves, Padres, Marlins, A’s and Giants have been the teams most linked to Olivera.

Here’s the latest on the Cuban free agent:

  • The Marlins are willing to offer Olivera a seven-year contract in the $50MM range, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The Marlins reportedly pulled a seven-year, $53MM offer because the Dodgers had made a $77MM proposal. According to Frisaro, the Marlins believe the amount of the Dodgers’ offer is not accurate.

Earlier Updates

  • The A’s were not one of the teams making an offer to Olivera this weekend, but are monitoring his market, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
  • The Braves are considering increasing their bid for Olivera slightly, but it still won’t approach $50MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman notes the Braves, whose comfort level with Olivera is reportedly in the $30-40MM range, is counting on non-monetary incentives to help their bid like having a pair of Cuban natives on their staff, manager Fredi Gonzalez and bench coach Carlos Tosca. Heyman writes the Dodgers and Padres are seen as the favorites to land Olivera, but the Dodgers may have renewed questions about Olivera’s elbow after their request for a second MRI was rebuffed and there are concerns about whether the Padres have enough payroll space.

 


NL Notes: Francoeur, Russell, Ankiel

Jeff Francoeur believes his easygoing personality has helped keep his career going, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes in a profile of the well-traveled outfielder. Last season, Francoeur’s teammates with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system played an elaborate practical joke on Francoeur, then videotaped his reaction when he found out he’d been had. A Triple-A team ordinarily might not feel comfortable playing a trick on an accomplished big-league veteran, but Francoeur’s teammates knew he would take it well. Francoeur hit .289/.320/.450 in 487 plate appearances in El Paso and played ten games with the Padres. Now he’s in camp with the Phillies, trying to make it back to the big leagues with the seventh team of his career. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was surprised by the blockbuster Jeff Samardzija trade that sent him from Oakland to Chicago last summer, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. “I was a little shocked, and more confused than anything,” says Russell, who adds that he soon began to see a positive side of the trade. “The Cubs wanted me, and they got me. I look at it as a new opportunity.” Lee notes that Russell probably would have had a more straightforward path to the big leagues if he were still with the Athletics. He’s talented enough, though, that that might not matter — if he continues hitting this season, the Cubs will surely find a place for him.
  • Former big-league pitcher and outfielder Rick Ankiel is trying to help Nationals players as the teams new life skills coordinator, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I’m really just a resource for these guys or somebody to lean on for whatever they may need — whether it’s something off the field or something on the field,” Ankiel says. “I’ve been through it. I’ve got a lot of tools and mechanisms to pass down to these guys.” Ankiel, who signed out of high school and has no college experience, emphasizes that he’s not a doctor,  just a former player who’s had an unusual and varied big-league life. The 35-year-old, of course, flamed out as a pitcher after finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2000 before following a long road back through the minors and then re-emerging as a hitter in 2007. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2013.

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.