Oakland Athletics Rumors

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

AL Notes: Rodon, Hamilton, Zito

Top 2014 White Sox draft pick Carlos Rodon could receive more attention in Spring Training with ace Chris Sale out with an avulsion fracture, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, Brad Penny and Francellis Montas could also get extra looks. GM Rick Hahn emphasizes, however, that the timing of Rodon’s eventual promotion to the big leagues will be dictated by how ready he is, not by a vacancy in the rotation. After racing through the minor leagues and getting all the way to Triple-A after signing last year, Rodon appears close to being ready, although he only has a total of nine minor-league outings under his belt. Here’s more from the American League.

  • The terms of Josh Hamilton‘s likely suspension following his relapse are, clearly, secondary to the relapse itself, and what’s most important is Hamilton’s recovery. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez notes, though, that the impending suspension could have implications for the Angels‘ payroll. The team will save about $126K for every day Hamilton is suspended. They’ll also save the prorated portion of the Hamilton contract’s $25MM average annual value against the luxury tax threshold. It’s probably too late for them to use any of that money on free agents, but Gonzalez notes that they could spend it on players they add in-season. Gonzalez also writes that Hamilton’s suspension would begin at the start of the season, when he could still be rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
  • Barry Zito will appear in his first game action since 2013 when he faces the Cubs in Cactus League action on Thursday, MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Zito is in camp on a minor-league deal with the Athletics after taking a year off following the Giants’ decision to decline his 2014 option. “I have a fresh perspective,” he says. “I’ve got my passion back, and I just want to continue to work hard and go out and enjoy competing. I guess you could say I’m competing against all these guys, but for me, it’s more about competing against myself.”

Blue Jays, Athletics Talking With Dayan Viciedo

6:11pm: With Saunders now expected to return much sooner than had been anticipated, the Jays’ impetus to add Viciedo seems to have diminished significantly. Indeed, GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that the team will likely stick with its internal options, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes.

5:16pm: The Blue Jays and Athletics are among the clubs who are in active talks with free agent outfielder Dayan Viciedo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Previous reports have suggested varying levels of interest from the Indians and Reds.

Viciedo has never reached the performance levels that had once been hoped for, but remains an interesting talent at just 26 years of age. With power to spare and outstanding numbers against lefties, Viciedo has struggled to play serviceable defense and reach base against right-handed pitching. He also can be controlled through 2017 via arbitration.

Toronto is potentially in the market for at least a temporary fix in the corner outfield after losing Michael Saunders for the first half of the season. Though a left-handed bat would probably be the better fit for a right-leaning lineup, pickings are obviously rather slim at this juncture.

As for Oakland, Viciedo would not only make potential sense as a right-handed bench bat/reserve first baseman, but could challenge for a larger role in the corner outfield. The team’s candidates to provide right-handed pop (Nate Freiman and Rule 5 pick Mark Canha) are hardly certainties. And, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, left field is not locked down for Oakland, with slick defenders Sam Fuld and Craig Gentry each coming off of rough campaigns at the plate.


Athletics Claim Alex Hassan From Orioles

The teams involved have announced that the Athletics have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan from the Orioles. The Orioles had designated Hassan for assignment earlier this week. To clear space on their 40-man roster, the Athletics have placed pitcher A.J. Griffin on the 60-day disabled list.

The Athletics’ latest waiver claim continues what must be a disorienting offseason for Hassan. The Athletics initially claimed him from the Red Sox in November, but lost him three days later when the Orioles claimed him. Now the Athletics have him back. The 26-year-old Hassan isn’t a power hitter, but he’s posted good on-base percentages in the minors. He hit .287/.378/.426 in 474 plate appearances while playing both corner outfield positions and first base for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2014, also going 1-for-8 in his first cup of coffee in the big leagues.



NL Notes: Nationals, Escobar, Holliday, Lopez

The Nationals haven’t managed to avoid the possibility of losing key members of their team due to free agency, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports. The Nats could be without Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister after the season because they haven’t managed to sign those players to long-term deals that delay free agency. That might not be entirely their fault, Svrluga suggests — they tried to sign all three players. In the meantime, though, they have another wave of core players (Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon) to whom they could turn their attention. Strasburg, Harper and Rendon are all represented by Scott Boras, who does not generally like long-term deals for pre-free-agency players. Some of his clients, such as Jered Weaver and Carlos Gonzalez, have signed them, however. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to have been traded away from the Rays to the Athletics and then from the Athletics to the Nationals, and he also wasn’t happy he’d have to move from shortstop to second base, the Post’s James Wagner writes. Escobar has changed his mind since then, however. “They’ve reached the playoffs two of the last three years,” says Escobar. “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything.” Escobar says certain aspects of playing second base, like turning double plays, are “confusing,” but says that he’ll improve that them with practice.
  • Baseball is full of incredibly disappointing free-agent contracts, but Matt Holliday‘s current seven-year, $120MM deal with the Cardinals isn’t one of them, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. “I really wanted it to work out great for both sides,” says Holliday. “A lot of times with a long-term contract, you hear ‘They hope to get a couple of good years out of it.’ My goal from the day I signed was to get to the end of the contract and have everybody feel really good about it.” Holliday’s defense has slipped since signing, but he’s maintained a high standard offensively, and with just two years (plus an option) left on the deal, it looks like the Cardinals are going to get more than their money’s worth.
  • When Cuban righty Yoan Lopez signed with the Diamondbacks, he joined the organization he rooted for as a child, Carlos Torres Bujanda writes for Baseball America. “Since I was a kid, I followed the D-backs when Randy Johnson was on the team,” says Lopez. “To see the games or check the stats I had friends who worked in hotels with Internet access. They download the games so I can watch later, or see the numbers.” Lopez adds that he’s happy the Diamondbacks also signed another Cuban player this offseason, Yasmany Tomas.

Minor Moves: Cedeno, Thompson, Accardo

Here are the latest minor transactions from around the league, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Giants signed shortstop Ronny Cedeno to a minor league contract, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page.  Cedeno appeared in nine games with the Phillies in 2014, spending the large majority of his season at the Triple-A level for Philadelphia and Arizona.  Over his 10 years in the majors, Cedeno has a .245/.289/.353 career slash line over 2792 plate appearances, seeing a few seasons in a starting or platoon role for the Cubs and Pirates.
  • The Athletics moved right-hander Taylor Thompson to the 60-day disabled list due to a strain in his throwing shoulder, the team announced.  In a corresponding move, Thompson’s 40-man roster spot will be filled by the newly-acquired Chad Smith.  Thompson, 27, made his Major League debut last season, throwing 5 1/3 innings out of the White Sox bullpen.  The A’s selected him off waivers from the White Sox in November.
  • The Diamondbacks signed righty Jeremy Accardo to a minor league deal, as per the PCL’s transactions page.  Accardo, an eight-year Major League veteran, last appeared in the bigs in 2012 and has since pitched in Mexico, Venezuela, independent league ball and for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate.

Athletics Claim Chad Smith From Tigers

The Athletics have claimed right-hander Chad Smith off waivers from the Tigers, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Detroit had designated the 25-year-old for assignment in order to clear space on the 40-man roster for the recently re-signed Joba Chamberlain.

Smith is a former 17th-round pick of the Tigers that made his big league debut in 2014, allowing seven runs on 15 hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. He has worked to a strong 2.68 ERA over his minor league career, averaging 8.8 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings pitched. After working as a starter for part of his first minor league season, he transitioned to the bullpen in 2013 and has posted solid numbers since, though he did struggle in 27 innings at the Triple-A level last year.


AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Ortiz

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says it’s easy to do business with A’s GM Billy Beane thanks to the rapport he has with him, MLB.com’s Mike Bauman writes.  “I have a pretty good relationship with Billy Beane,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve done a bunch of small deals. The one thing about Billy, he’s always open-minded and you can never offend him; you can ask about anybody at any time to make a deal.”  The two execs got together in November for the deal that brought Josh Donaldson to Toronto.  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • When asked about David Ortiz‘s future beyond 2015, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that “David knows he’s going to be a Red Sox [player] as long as he wants to be a Red Sox [player],” according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  Cherington went on to explain that the two sides haven’t discussed his future recently.  This upcoming season will be the last guaranteed year of his deal and he’ll earn $16MM, the most money he has ever been paid in a single season.  With 425 plate appearances, his deal will vest for 2016 and he can increase his salary even further if he surpasses higher PA thresholds.
  • Everth Cabrera is likely to ink his deal with the Orioles on Wednesday, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com writes. Cabrera agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM deal that could balloon to $3MM total if he hits certain incentives.
  • Rays star Evan Longoria says that he didn’t want manager Joe Maddon to leave the Rays but he believes that they will be better for it, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “I just think there comes a time when it’s just the right time for somebody new,” Longoria said.
  • Earlier tonight, we rounded up today’s news on the Red Sox.

AL West Notes: Moss/Donaldson Trades, Joba, Johnson, Angels, Castro

Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.

A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…

  • Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
  • The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
  • Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
  • Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy“All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
  • Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.

Athletics To Sign Barry Zito To Minors Deal

The Athletics have agreed to a minor league pact with lefty Barry Zito, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. The deal includes a big league camp invite, per the report. Zito would earn $1MM (with an additional $175K in possible incentives) if he cracks the MLB roster, per a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Now 36, Zito established himself with Oakland beginning in 2000. He would never again regain the effectiveness of his first four campaigns there (768 innings of 3.12 ERA ball), though the southpaw would go on to toss another 662 1/3 frames with a cumulative 4.05 ERA over the following three seasons with the A’s.

Of course, Zito famously jumped across the bay to the Giants thereafter, signing a seven-year, $126MM free agent deal. After generally outpacing his peripherals in Oakland, they caught up to him in San Francisco. He threw plenty of innings with the Giants, racking up 1,139 1/3 over seven campaigns, but allowed 4.62 earned runs per nine over the life of that ill-fated deal — a near-perfect match for his 4.61 FIP.

Zito sat out last season after a rough final contract year. Always a soft-tosser, Zito saw his fastball velocity dip to its lowest-ever point (about 83 mph) in 2013. Presumably, the A’s saw enough to give him a fair shot at earning a roster spot out of camp, though obviously he has plenty to prove before that comes to fruition.


Quick Hits: Yankees, Hamels, Arb Cases

The Yankees finalized last summer’s trades for Martin Prado, Josh Outman and Jeff Francis with cash rather than minor leaguers, a team official tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog.  All three deals (with the Diamondbacks, Indians and Athletics, respectively) were made with either cash or a player to be named later going back to the other team in return.  Here’s some more from around the baseball world…

  • In an entry from Buster Olney’s latest Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, he notes that talent is a rarer commodity than money in today’s game, which is why he feels the Phillies should consider eating some of Cole Hamels‘ contract to bring back better prospects in a deal.  Looking at the Hamels-to-Boston trade rumors, Olney wonders why the Red Sox would deal top prospects for Hamels now when a number of ace-level pitchers will be available for only cash in free agency next offseason.
  • This offseason has already seen eight arbitration hearings and seven more outstanding cases could go to a hearing, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi notes.  It’s an unusually high number given that there were only 13 arb hearings in total over the previous four offseasons, though Morosi doesn’t yet think this could be an omen about the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
  • Former big leaguer-turned-FOX Sports analyst C.J. Nitkowski is no stranger to minor league contracts, and he details some of the many factors that a player must consider before signing such a deal.
  • Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron lists his ten least-favorite moves of the offseason, with the Padres‘ trade for Matt Kemp topping the list.  Cameron believes the Padres paid far too heavy a price in both talent and salary to acquire Kemp, whose best days are possibly behind him due to a checkered injury history.