Oakland Athletics Rumors

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

Reds Claim Jake Elmore, Designate Nick Christiani

The Reds have claimed infielder Jake Elmore off waivers from the Athletics, as Jane Lee of MLB.com reports on Twitter. In a corresponding move, the team has announced that it designated righty Nick Christiani for assignment.

Elmore, 27, had been playing in Triple-A after being added in a trade over the offseason. He has some past big league experience, however, with 209 total plate appearances. Over 211 trips to bat this year at Triple-A, he owns a .282/.374/.365 line.

Christiani, also 27, has not been successful in a 13-inning tryout this year, allowing eight earned runs and striking out only eight batters against six walks. He moved quickly to Triple-A after being drafted in the 13th round in 2009, and has put up solid enough results there (until this season, at least; he carries a 7.71 ERA).


July Trade Recap: AL West

We’ve got recaps in the books for the AL Central, NL CentralAL East and NL East, which means its time to turn our focus westward. We’ll start with the AL West, which had no shortage of interesting moves.

Angels

Astros

Athletics

Mariners

Rangers

Synopsis

The arms race was on in the AL West, with the three teams at the of the division shifting resources into present production and the two at the bottom looking to the future. Somewhat interestingly, the three buyers each had a key area that they addressed with multiple trades.

For a Halos club that is closing in on Oakland for the best record in baseball, the focus was clearly on the bullpen. GM Jerry Dipoto added four relievers (counting the since-released Hill), headlined by Street. It took a good portion of the club’s much-maligned young talent to make these deals. Street, in particular, required a fairly substantial return given his short, reasonably-priced contract. It bears noting that Grilli, added in a change-of-scenery swap for the former closer Frieri, has been lights out since coming to Anaheim (2 earned runs, 19 strikeouts, 3 walks in 14 1/3 innings). While the pen now looks to be in good shape, it will be interesting to see if (and if so, how) Dipoto adds depth to a rotation that now looks especially thin after an injury to Tyler Skaggs.

“Bold” seems too weak a descriptor to capture GM Billy Beane’s moves. He gave up the organization’s best-know player in Cespedes and its best prospect in Russell to get Lester (a tested, rented gun for the rest of the year), Samardzija (who has thrown like a top-line starter this year and comes with another season of control), and Hammel (an innings-eating, back-of-the-rotation arm who will soon be a free agent). The club sacrificed a lot of future value upside, though Cespedes’s is more limited than might be expected because he comes with just one more year of control and cannot be made a qualifying offer. But that is what it took to re-make the club’s rotation, which will obviously play a key role as Oakland looks to fend off the Angels in the division and ultimately make an extended postseason run.

Of course, Beane also had an eye on a crafty means of replacing the lost production of Cespedes. By adding Gomes in the Lester swap, the A’s will be able to utilize him in a promising platoon with Stephen Vogt. And Fuld will offer the team plenty of flexibility as well, with injuries clouding the outlook for regular center fielder Coco Crisp and reserve Craig Gentry, though the club surely would have preferred not to give up the useful Milone.

Seattle’s additions flew under the radar a bit, but nevertheless seemed very well-conceived. With a long-term second baseman at the MLB level and tons of bullpen arms, it did not hurt much at this point to move Franklin and Pryor. In return, the team added an above-average MLB center fielder (Jackson, controllable through arbitration next year) and a much-needed bat (Morales, whose path this season has been no less strange than that of Stephen Drew). Denorfia, too, looks to be a solid bench piece. Oft-doubted GM Jack Zduriencik deserves credit, especially for managing to insert Seattle into the David Price deal and coming away with Jackson as the prize for making the pieces fit for Tampa and Detroit.

Finally, we come to the sellers. Texas had more of the look of a traditional seller, with several veterans on expiring contracts that were of little use to a team that was obliterated by injuries. But the club elected not to make any of the really major moves that some imagined possible beforehand (Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, etc.), and even chose not to take a substandard return for outfielder Alex Rios (who remains an August trade candidate). The prospect haul for Soria looks solid, especially given the team’s need for arms in the mid-term, while Frasor brought back a player that looks like a younger, cheaper, longer-controlled version of himself. We don’t know what GM Jon Daniels could have achieved for the team’s more desirable players, but the lack of such moves seems to indicate that the club will seek to contend next year. It will certainly be fascinating to see how he goes about re-constructing a contender.

Houston, meanwhile, did not have many veteran pieces at all, let alone ones that figured to draw much interest. The team decided not to move closer Chad Qualls, a non-move which drew some jeers but might well have made sense if (as is likely) he was not going to bring much back anyway. The same holds true of resurgent southpaw Tony Sipp, who will be a cheap piece for the ‘Stros next year. Instead, GM Jeff Luhnow announced that he would consider moving some of the team’s young arms, and then sat back and waited to be overwhelmed. That apparently happened, as he pulled the trigger to move a talented-but-questioned arm in Cosart (along with the reasonably valuable Hernandez) in exchange for a few prospects who had no place (Marisnick) or had disappointed (Moran) in the Miami organization. Baseball Prospectus calls this a sell-low swap, and it looks that way from here as well. It’s certainly an interesting deal from the two teams that ended last year at the very bottom of baseball’s cellar. While the results will take years to tally, the deal could (but might not) have rather substantial effects on the trajectory of these two organizations.


Rosenthal On Cardinals, Miller, Price, Beane

Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…

  • Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.  “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal.  “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.”  Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
  • The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles.  Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
  • Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman.  The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
  • In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter.  Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.


Slusser’s Latest: Cespedes, Milone, Fuld

Here’s some background news and notes on the Athletics’ big trade deadline moves from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle

  • It surprised many to see Yoenis Cespedes traded yesterday, but Slusser reports that the A’s were planning on dealing the outfielder this offseason anyway since the club didn’t think they would be able to extend him.  Cespedes has a contract option that allows him to become a free agent following the 2015 season.  In another piece, Slusser notes that “there never were very extensive talks” between Cespedes and the A’s about an extension.
  • Sam Fuld was the only Major League player being offered by any of the teams interested in Tommy Milone, which is why the A’s swung the deal with the Twins to provide immediate outfield help given Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry‘s injury problems.
  • Slusser notes that Oakland plans to keep Fuld for 2015, and he isn’t just a temporary solution while Gentry is on the DL with a broken hand.
  • The Athletics are still looking to add a second baseman before the August 31st trade deadline.

A’s Designate Evan Scribner For Assignment

5:30pm: Scribner has only been removed from Oakland’s 25-man roster and he remains on the 40-man, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link).  Because it has been more than three years since Scribner’s Major League debut, he must be put on optional assignment waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A.  These waivers are revocable, so the A’s can pull Scribner back if another team claimed him.

3:38pm: The Athletics have designated righty Evan Scribner for assignment, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link).

Scribner has a 1.69 ERA over 5 1/3 relief innings for Oakland this season, and a 3.87 ERA, 2.7 K/BB rate and 6.9 K/9 over 81 1/3 career innings with the Padres and A’s from 2011-14.  The 29-year-old was a 28th-round pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2008 draft.


Minor Moves: Thornburg, Johnson, Wilson

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Brewers moved right-hander Tyler Thornburg to the 60-day disabled list in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-acquired Gerardo Parra, the club announced.  Thornburg has been on the DL since early June with an elbow injury and still seems weeks away from a return, if he pitches again in 2014 at all.
  • The Athletics released embattled former closer Jim Johnson, per a club announcement. Brought in via trade, Johnson failed to deliver on his $10MM salary. The A’s will be responsible for the rest of it, less the prorated league minimum rate if Johnson catches on with a new team.
  • The Athletics outrighted outfielder Kenny Wilson to Double-A yesterday, according to the MLB transactions page. The speedy 24-year-old outfielder has been no stranger to transactions this year, as he obviously holds appeal to clubs but is hard to keep on a 40-man roster.
  • Catching up on the always-shifting DFA rolls, the following players are currently in limbo, per MLBTR’s DFA tracker: Jake Elmore (Athletics), Nick Noonan and Jose De Paula (Giants), Juan Carlos Oviedo and Erik Bedard (Rays), Jeff Francis and Brian Roberts (Yankees), Josh Wall (Pirates), and Ryan Wheeler (Rockies).

Athletics Designate Jake Elmore For Assignment

The Athletics designated Jake Elmore for assignment earlier today, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Twitter. Elmore, a 27-year-old utilityman, was picked up in a minor trade over the offseason.

Elmore did not crack the Oakland roster this season, but does have 209 MLB plate appearances under his belt. In 211 plate appearances at Triple-A, he owns a .282/.374/.365 line. Though he doesn’t offer much pop, and has yet to hit a long ball in 2014, Elmore has contributed nine stolen bases.


A’s Acquire Lester, Gomes; Cespedes To Boston

2:12pm: The A’s are paying $650K of Cespedes’ salary but are getting back $1.8MM from the Red Sox for Lester’s salary, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

11:35am: The teams have announced the trade. Nightengale tweets the exact figure that will be heading to Oakland: $650K.

10:09am: Dave Cameron of Fangraphs reports another wrinkle in the trade: Cespedes’ contract calls for him to be non-tendered at the end of his deal (if he is not first extended) in order to assure him early free agency, and he therefore is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer following the 2015 season (Twitter links).

9:14am: The Red Sox are sending under $1MM to the A’s in the trade, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Meanwhile, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America tweets that the value of the Competitive Balance pick that Boston receives will be roughly $800K.

8:54am: Passan tweets that Oakland is also sending a competitive balance draft pick to the Red Sox in the trade, and Boston is sending cash to Oakland. The A’s landed the second pick in Comp Round B in last week’s lottery.

8:49am: The Athletics have acquired Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that Lester had been traded to an unknown club, while Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com first connected the A’s and Lester earlier this week.

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The addition of Lester will give Oakland an incredibly formidable rotation for the balance of the regular season, but perhaps more importantly, in the playoffs. Lester, who has posted a 2.52 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate, will join fellow trade acquisition Jeff Samardzija, free agent signing Scott Kazmir and homegrown star Sonny Gray atop Oakland’s rotation.

It’s possible that the struggles of Jason Hammel, acquired from the Cubs along with Samardzija back on July 4, prompted A’s GM Billy Beane to aggressively pursue another sizable rotation upgrade. While the loss of Cespedes will hurt Oakland’s lineup, the team can afford to part with some offense; the A’s rank first in the Majors in runs scored, sixth in on-base percentage and eighth in slugging percentage. Gomes won’t replace Cespedes’ power or his .256/.303/.464 batting line, but he’s a formidable opponent against lefties, having slashed .302/.400/.431 against southpaws in 2014 and .279/.379/.495 in his career.

Cespedes will bring the Red Sox a much-needed outfield bat, though he’s only under team control through the 2015 season due to a clause in his contract that allows him to forgo arbitration and hit the free agent market after his initial four-year term. He’s slated to earn $10.5MM next season — the same sum that he is owed in 2014. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Cespedes recently voiced a disinterest in playing center field with the A’s, but he did so through a teammate rather than by approaching manager Bob Melvin directly, which likely didn’t sit well with the team (Twitter links).

Yoenis Cespedes

The pair of blockbuster trades by Beane signifies a clear “all-in” philosophy on the 2014 season. Oakland has traded its best prospect (Addison Russell), a 2013 first-round pick (Billy McKinney) and one of its most dangerous bats (Cespedes) in an attempt at the most dominant pitching staff it can muster for the playoffs. There will be no compensation if (or, perhaps more appropriately given his likely price tag — when) Lester departs as a free agent, as baseball’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players who did not spend the entire regular season on one team from receiving qualifying offers.

For the Red Sox, who hope to re-sign Lester as a free agent this offseason, this trade at least gives them a chance, perhaps a slight one, to have Lester and Cespedes on the same team in 2015 when the club takes another shot at contending. Beyond that, the addition of a draft pick is an interesting wrinkle, as it allows Boston to enjoy the best of both worlds, in a way. GM Ben Cherington could have kept Lester and extended a qualifying offer in hopes of recouping a draft pick if Lester signed elsewhere in free agency. Now, the Sox will get a bonus pick regardless (albeit a slightly later one), and they also are guaranteed a middle-of-the-order bat for the 2015 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Boston engage Cespedes in extension talks either, though that is nothing more than my own speculation at this juncture.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Athletics, Twins Swap Tommy Milone, Sam Fuld

The Twins have officially acquired lefty Tommy Milone from the A’s in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld, the teams have announced.

Tommy Milone

Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.

Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.

Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.

Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.

The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Milone was headed to Minnesota (Twitter link), and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported that Fuld was going back to Oakland (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


A’s “Getting Flooded” With Calls On Jason Hammel

The Athletics are “getting flooded” with calls on Jason Hammel following this morning’s acquisition of Jon Lester, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

Oakland was planning to use Hammel as its fifth starter, with Jesse Chavez heading to the bullpen, Susan Slusser tweeted earlier this morning. However, Chavez also gives the A’s an excellent fifth starter candidate should they decide to flip Hammel, be it for prospects or perhaps a Major League piece that could help deepen their current roster.

Hammel, 31, has struggled tremendously since coming over in the Jeff Samardzija trade. In four starts with the A’s, he’s yielded a 9.53 ERA and seen his previously excellent 1.9 BB/9 rate spike to 5.3. However, his overall numbers this year are still appealing to teams in need of a rotation rental: Hammel has a 3.87 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 40.9 percent ground-ball rate. Rival clubs may consider him a nice buy-low candidate.