Oakland Athletics Rumors
The Athletics and Astros completed a five-player trade that fortifies the 2013 A’s and adds depth to Houston’s organization. Infielder Jed Lowrie and right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez join the Athletics in exchange for first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi. Here’s the latest reaction to the trade, which was officially announced last night:
- While the deal fits into Houston’s long-term vision, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders how low the Astros can go before becoming an embarrassment to MLB. The Astros have lost a total of 213 games since 2011, and it seems likely that they’ll struggle again in 2013. “There aren’t many years where you can say one team will definitely have the No. 1 pick,” a rival GM told Rosenthal. “But they will definitely have the No. 1.” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintains that his primary objective is putting together a consistent winner. “Whether that’s ’14, ’15, ’16, we don’t know. But that’s what we’re working toward. So, any move we make has to be seen in that light.”
- The Astros added three young players with value, "but no star potential" ESPN.com's Keith Law writes. It's a good return in terms of value, though none of the newcomers are likely to become All-Stars. Law wonders if the Astros could have obtained a possible star in the deal instead of adding depth.
- The 2013 Athletics have a deeper, better infield following the trade, FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan explains. Meanwhile, the Astros have more talent now than they did at this time yesterday.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney points out that Bud Norris’ $3MM salary now leads the Astros. That’s less than the average MLB salary and what Zack Greinke will earn in three weeks, as Olney points out. It's possible the Astros will have a historically poor record. "What you question is, how bad can they be," an NL official told Olney.
- Entering the offseason it was clear the A’s needed to bolster the left side of their infield, and I like that they’ve managed to accomplish that goal at a reasonable cost. That said, I can see why the Astros decided to move Lowrie at a time that his trade value remains reasonably high.
It's been a busy offseason for the Athletics and general manager Billy Beane following their surprise AL West championship in 2012. The A's have exercised Grant Balfour's option and re-signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal while electing to let right-hander Brandon McCarthy depart via free agency.
Beyond that, the A's GM has orchestrated three trades this offseason, acquiring Chris Young, John Jaso and Jed Lowrie in three separate transactions -- two of which were three-team deals. The A's also dipped into the international market to add shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. For those who have forgotten, here's a quick recap of each of those moves:
- The A's signed Nakajima to a two-year deal worth $6.5MM. The 30-year-old is expected to play shortstop for Oakland and owns a .310/.381/.474 batting line and 104 homers dating back to 2007.
- Oakland traded Cliff Pennington to the D'backs and Yordy Cabrera to the Marlins in order to acquire Young and $500K from Arizona. The Diamondbacks also received Heath Bell, and the Marlins received cash considerations. Young is set to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
- Beane and Co. traded A.J. Cole back to the Nationals in order to acquire Jaso from the Mariners. Mike Morse was traded from Washington to the Mariners in the deal as well. Jaso is under team control through 2015.
- The A's traded Brad Peacock, Chris Carter and Max Stassi to the Astros in exchange for Lowrie and right-hander Fernando Rodriguez. Lowrie is under control through 2014.
Following today, Beane uncharacteristically divulged to reporters -- including CSN Bay Area's Casey Pratt -- that the team was done making additions to its Major League roster (Twitter link). With that in mind, let's put it to a vote:
The Astros announced that they sent shortstop Jed Lowrie to the Athletics in a five-player trade. The Astros acquire first baseman Chris Carter, starting pitcher Brad Peacock and catching prospect Max Stassi from the A's in the deal, which sends right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez to Oakland along with Lowrie.
The Astros are trading Lowrie approximately one year after acquiring him from the Red Sox. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow maintained throughout the offseason that he didn't want to trade Lowrie unless he could obtain impact players in return.
“This trade gives us power, pitching and catching,” Luhnow said in a statement released by the team. “Three valuable commodities that will help improve our organization.”
Lowrie, who turns 29 in April, enjoyed arguably his best season in 2012 -- his lone season in Houston. After being traded from the Red Sox along with Kyle Weiland in exchange for Mark Melancon, Lowrie hit .244/.331/.438. He hit a career-high 16 home runs, but was held to just 97 games due to a thumb sprain and an ankle injury. Unfortunately, those 97 games also represent a career-best for Lowrie as well.
Lowrie is set to earn $2.4MM in 2013 after avoiding arbitration with the Astros last month. He'll be eligible for arbitration a third and final time next offseason and is eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out (on Twitter), the Astros now have less than $15MM in guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez struggled in 2012, posting a 5.37 ERA in 70 1/3 frames for the Astros. However, his FIP (4.22) and xFIP (4.23) are nearly identical to the marks he posted in 2011 when his ERA was 3.96. He averaged 93.9 mph on his heater last season and has fanned 136 batters in 123 1/3 innings. He can be controlled through 2017.
Peacock, who turned 25 on Saturday, ranked fourth on Baseball America's list of Top 10 Athletics prospects. The right-hander was a key component of last winter's Gio Gonzalez trade but had a down season in 2012. He had a 6.01 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 134 2/3 innings for Oakland's Triple-A affiliate. BA's Jim Shonerd wrote in November that Peacock pitched up in the zone too frequently in 2012, and added:
"When he's going well, he still shows three quality pitches. Peacock's fastball works at 91-95 mph but lacks movement, underscoring the need for better command. He also flashes a sharp curveball and a changeup with depth. He has added a slider/cutter hybrid to help induce weak contact, but it remains a work in progress."
Stassi, 21, entered the season as Oakland's No. 14 prospect, according to BA. He spent 2012 at High-A Stockton, where he batted .268/.331/.468 with 15 homers in 360 trips to the plate. He's been bothered by shoulder problems throughout his professional career, but BA praises his compact swing, solid power and ability to use the middle of the field.
The 26-year-old Carter is a former top prospect in his own right, and he displayed the power that earned him that distinction in 2012. Carter batted .239/.350/.514 with 16 homers in 260 plate appearances for the A's. He is under team control through 2018 and is not yet eligible for arbitration.
Beane has now traded away two of the four players he acquired in last offseason's trade of Gonzalez. He moved A.J. Cole back to Washington in a trade that sent John Jaso to the A's and Mike Morse to the Mariners. Tommy Milone and Derek Norris still remain a part of the A's organization.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Earlier tonight, the Padres avoided arbitration with Chase Headley by agreeing to a one-year, $8.575MM deal. The third baseman is under team control through 2015 and General Manager Josh Byrnes started dialogue with Headley's representatives about a contract extension earlier this winter, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock. However, those talks have been tabled for now. "We couldn't frame it up where it made sense for both sides," Byrnes said. In today's poll, nearly 70% of MLBTR readers said that it would make sense to lock Headley up long-term. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Dodgers, Blue Jays, Angels, Tigers, Orioles, Brewers, and Athletics were in Peoria, Arizona today to watch Kip Wells, Mark Lowe, and Ryan Rowland-Smith throw, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Wells, 35, made seven starts for the Padres last season and posted a 4.58 ERA with 20 walks and 19 strikeouts.
- The Yankees can dream about getting out from under Alex Rodriguez's contract, but there is very little chance of it happening, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports noted that the Yankees could pay just 15% of the $114MM owed to A-Rod if his hip injury is diagnosed as career-ending and he misses the entire season.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (video link) has a gut feeling that aces Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Justin Verlander will work out new contracts with their respective clubs before they get the chance to hit the open market.
- The Mariners need to add a dependable starting pitcher, opines Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Baker suggests that the M's should try and swing a trade for the Dodgers' Chris Capuano by sending Franklin Gutierrez back to the club where he started his pro baseball career.
The Angels have hired Omar Vizquel as a roving infield instructor in their organization, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (Twitter link). Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, said last summer that he was hoping to get into coaching or managing once he retired from playing. Vizquel hung up the cleats after a 24-year career that saw him amass 2877 career hits, good for 40th on the all-time list.
Here's the latest from around the AL West...
- Athletics GM Billy Beane tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the A's have no interest in trading Brandon Moss. Cafardo opines that Moss' left-handed bat and his ability to play both first and the outfield makes him an "ideal" fit for the Red Sox.
- The Mariners didn't find much interest in John Jaso at the trade deadline last summer and shopped the catcher for much of the offseason, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. The M's attempted to deal Jaso to the Pirates in exchange for Garrett Jones and explored sending the catcher to Arizona as part of a possible Justin Upton trade before finally sending Jaso to the Athletics as part of a three-way deal with the Nationals.
- Also from Baker, he opines that the Mariners have the money and the minor league depth to afford signing Michael Bourn and withstand losing the #12 overall draft pick as compensation.
- The Angels' minor league system projects as one of the worst in the game and MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at how it happened, including such factors as the team's lack of international scouting and lackluster 2010 draft. One bright side for L.A. is that their farm system is currently shallow because so many homegrown prospects have made their way to the Angels' big league roster.
- The Astros are approaching their rebuild in the right way, writes Jeff Moore of The Hardball Times, by off-loading all veteran talent from their Major League roster and adding much-needed depth to their farm system.
- In division news from earlier today, the Mariners reached an agreement with Kelly Shoppach, the Angels avoided arbitration with Kevin Jepsen and we posted a collection of Rangers notes.
Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz are among the MLB stars who have been linked to a supplier of performance enhancing drugs in a report from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times. A Miami-based clinic sold PEDs to athletes from various sports, according to the report. The names of Cruz, Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were found in the records at Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami.
Gonzalez's name appears five times in the notebooks of Anthony Bosch, the clinic's chief. Cruz purchased $4,000 of product, according to the report. Rodriguez's name appears throughout the clinic's files, while Cabrera's name appears 14 times and Colon’s name also comes up.
Gonzalez has considerable security after agreeing to a five-year, $42MM contract with the Nationals last offseason. He'll earn $6.25MM in 2013 and remains under contract through 2016. Cruz will earn $10.5MM this year then hit free agency following the 2013 season. Cabrera, 28, signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Blue Jays after serving a PED-related suspension at the end of the 2012 season. Colon, who has also served a PED-related suspension, signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Athletics this offseason.
Rodriguez could face a suspension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. However, don't expect the Yankees to be able to void the third baseman's contract. As Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports, the Yankees weren't able to void the deal after he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs for the first time (Twitter link). Rodriguez, who will miss much of the 2013 season recovering from a hip operation, has $114MM remaining on his contract with the Yankees.
The all-unemployed team would feature Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, Joe Saunders, Brian Wilson and others, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark points out (all Twitter links). The free agent market also includes many designated hitter candidates, which is usual for this time of year. Here are some notes on free agents from around MLB...
- The Brewers are bound to be talking to some of the free agents on Stark’s list, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel suggests (on Twitter). The Brewers are known to be seeking infield depth, including a backup at first base.
- Free agent pitchers Mark Lowe and Ryan Rowland-Smith will be throwing for teams at the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona Wednesday, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (all Twitter links). Agents Jeff Frye and Mike McCann want Lowe to show teams he's healthy, Crasnick adds. Lowe posted a 3.43 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings for the Rangers last year but missed time with a strained intercostal.
- Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes provided A’s officials with a scouting report on Cuban defector Aledmys Diaz, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Cespedes, who’s also Cuban, told the A’s that the free agent Diaz is a great shortstop who “could help this team," according to Slusser. Major League Baseball is investigating Diaz's age, Baseball America reported last week.
The Athletics are considering signing Hideki Okajima, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The left-hander spent the 2012 season pitching with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks after pitching with the Red Sox from 2007-11.
Okajima posted a 0.94 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 over the course of 47 2/3 innings in Japan last year. He was a key contributor in Boston's bullpen from 2007-10, posting a 3.06 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over the course of 254 appearances during that four-year period. Agent Joe Rosen represents Okajima, who turned 37 last month.
Left-handed relievers Sean Doolittle, Jerry Blevins and Jordan Norberto provide the A's with depth entering the 2013 season. However, bringing in Okajima would presumably be a low-risk move from the team’s perspective.
The Athletics held their A's Fan Fest today with manager Bob Melvin and GM Billy Beane hosting a Q&A session. Here are the highlights:
- Melvin says second base will be an open competition between Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks while Grant Green, the A's fourth-best prospect as ranked by MLB.com, will also receive a hard look, reports MLB.com's Jane Lee (Twitter links).
- Melvin plans to continue with the Brandon Moss/Chris Carter platoon at first base, tweets Lee.
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets the A's will not use any one set lineup because Melvin has multiple options depending on matchups and who's hot.
- Melvin views Coco Crisp as the starting center fielder with Chris Young moving around all three outfield spots, Lee tweets.
- Young says being reunited with Melvin is "like a breath of fresh air." (A's team Twitter feed).
- Melvin calls Yoenis Cespedes one of most talented players in the league and Beane adds he wouldn't be surprised if the 27-year-old Cuban takes it to another level, Slusser tweets.
- Beane is confident Hiroyuki Nakajima will make a successful transition to MLB, tweets Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com. In fact, Beane joked he will have a tougher transition in dealing with the effervescent Japanese shortstop.
- Beane expects their top prospect, outfielder Michael Choice, to open the season in Triple-A, unless something unforeseen happens, according to Pratt (via Twitter).
- The A's are convinced shortstop Addison Russell, last year's first round draft choice, is mature enough to be invited to Spring Training even though it wasn't part of his contract, writes Slusser on Twitter. Slusser adds this is an indication of how much the 19-year-old has wowed the front office.
Kottaras hit nine home runs and posted a .211/.351/.415 batting line in 209 plate appearances last year. Oakland acquired the 29-year-old from the Brewers for Fautino De Los Santos in July. He'll earn $1MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2015.