Oakland Athletics Rumors


July 2nd Rumors: Aybar, Devers, Zapata, Jimenez

Kiley McDaniel of sbb.scout.com has a primer on the international signing period, which begins July 2nd every year.  That's when 16-year-olds from countries such as the Dominican Republic and Venezuela can be signed by Major League teams.  The latest from McDaniel:

  • There is no super elite prospect this year, writes McDaniel.  He notes that under the new collective bargaining agreement, most teams will have budgets in the $1.5-4MM range, as determined by the 2012 MLB standings.  The Astros could have north of $7MM to spend, however.  McDaniel notes that teams can trade for up to 50% of their assigned cap.
  • In another article, McDaniel looks at particular players in this July 2nd class.  Dominican shortstop Obispo Aybar could get a $1MM bonus, even though MLB is investigating his age and clubs believe he is 18 or 19.
  • Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers has been connected to the Red Sox, with a possible bonus over $1MM.
  • Right fielder Micker Zapata, born on the island of St. Thomas but trained in the Dominican in recent years, has drawn interest from the Phillies, Mariners, Twins, and Indians.  McDaniel notes that Zapata "speaks perfect English from his upbringing in St. Thomas."
  • Dominican right fielder Eloy Jimenez has shown similar tools to Zapata with plus speed, a right field arm, and big raw power to his pull side.  Jimenez has been rumored to be in line for a bonus that would likely top the class, ranging from $2.5MM-$3MM and is most often linked to the Astros.  
  • Gleyber Torres is a Venezuelan shortstop who doesn’t offer a ton of projection but has the smoothness and skills to put him into the top group of talents in this class.  The Cubs are said to like him and they could spend over $2MM on him. 
  • Fellow Venezuelan shortstop Yeltsin Gudino is rumored to be in line for over $1MM with the A's and Mariners mentioned most often. 
  • Dominican shortstop Franly Mallen is further along than Gudino and has caught the attention of a number of teams.  Rumor has it that a couple of clubs have already offered him a bonus in the high six figures. 
  • Dominican righties Mayky Perez and Marcos Diplan are the top two pitchers this year.  Perez is 6’5, 205 pounds and shows three average or better pitches with a physical, projectable frame.  Diplan, meanwhile, is skinny at 6’0, 160 pounds and boasts a 90-94 mph fastball with an above average breaking ball.

Zach Links contributed to this post.



Extension Candidate: Josh Reddick

Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick enjoyed a breakout season in 2012, hitting .242/.305/.463 but providing tremendous value to the A's thanks to his power and outstanding right-field defense. Reddick played in 156 games with the A's, hitting 32 home runs with 85 runs and RBI and 11 steals. His 2012 UZR/150 of 19.3 is so high it looks like an outlier, but it's entirely consistent with his performances prior to the 2012 season, when he was with the Red Sox. Reddick's 2012 performance also won him a Gold Glove award.

Reddick currently has two years and 50 days of service time, meaning he should be eligible for arbitration after the 2013 season and for free agency after 2016. He will turn 30 shortly before his first season of free agent eligibility, in 2017.

Cameron Maybin's five-year, $25MM contract with the Padres, signed before the 2012 season, might provide a basic framework for a Reddick extension. (Maybin's contract also contains a $9MM team option with a $1MM buyout.) Like Reddick, Maybin was coming off a defense-fueled breakout year, posting 4.6 wins above replacement in 2011 (compared to 4.8 for Reddick last year), playing 147 games, and posting a line of .264/.323/.393 with 40 stolen bases while playing in tough PETCO Park. Much of Maybin's offensive value comes his baserunning, whereas Reddick's comes from his power, and Maybin plays center field, rather than right. But like Reddick now, Maybin was a young outfielder who had between two and three years of service time at the time of his contract. If Reddick were to receive a five-year deal, he might make a hair more than Maybin did.

A glance at roughly-similar players who have gone to arbitration reveals that the first four years of a $25-28MM contract would be consistent with what the A's might pay Reddick if they took him year to year. The Tigers' Austin Jackson settled for $3.5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. Mets first baseman Ike Davis, whose offensive numbers (although certainly not his defensive ones) were similar to Reddick's in 2012, will make $3.1MM in his first arbitration year. Reddick appears likely to make more as a first-year arbitration player than Davis did, although much would depend on how Reddick plays next season. If we stipulate that Reddick would make $3.5MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility, that would put him very much in line with the long-term contracts of Maybin and Curtis Granderson, who both signed with one year before hitting arbitration and received $3MM (Maybin) to $3.5MM (Granderson) in the second years of their deals. As with the both contracts, the A's could add a team option to the end as a way of compensating for their large financial commitment.

Would such a move make sense for the A's, though? Reddick's profile -- lots of defensive value, lots of power, and inconsistent contact-making ability -- worked brilliantly for him in 2012. But three projection systems (ZiPS, Steamer and Oliver) all see Reddick providing substantially less value in 2013, in part because it's unlikely he'll continue to post such amazing defensive numbers. And while Reddick's 151 strikeouts in 2012 don't prove anything about the value he provided in 2012, they might not bode well going forward, especially when coupled with a .242 batting average. The career of Drew Stubbs, another gifted defensive outfielder with a penchant for strikeouts, may be instructive here. Stubbs himself batted .243 in 2011, then saw his numbers fall to .213/.277/.333 in 2012. Reddick's strikeout numbers are less severe than Stubbs', but some caution is still in order.

There will be plenty of space in Oakland for Reddick, whether or not he and the A's consider an extension. The Oakland outfield is a little crowded now, with Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Chris Young all vying for time, but Reddick should be a higher priority than any of them, except perhaps Cespedes. (Reddick faded badly down the stretch in 2012, and the A's hope the addition of Young will help keep Reddick fresh.) The only top outfield prospect on the horizon is Michael Choice, who played for Double-A Midland in 2012.

The best path for the A's may be to take Reddick year-to-year for now. Because of his defensive value, a long-term deal would be unlikely to become a major mistake, and that's an important consideration for a financially-conscious team like the Athletics. And the A's would have more leverage to complete a deal now than they will next offseason, when Reddick will already be eligible for arbitration. But Reddick's contact ability is enough of a red flag that waiting a year, or at least a few months, to see how Reddick performs might be the better gamble, even if it ultimately costs them the ability to control his 2017 or 2018 seasons.



Athletics Claim Nate Freiman

The Athletics have claimed first baseman Nate Freiman from the Astros, according to the A's (on Twitter). The A's have placed Fernando Rodriguez on the 60-day DL to clear roster space for Freiman. Freiman hit .298/.370/.502 for the Padres' Double-A affiliate in 2012 before the Astros picked him in the Rule 5 Draft. He will need to stick on the Athletics' 25-man roster this season, or the A's risk losing him.



Offseason In Review: Oakland Athletics

The A’s made modest forays into free agency and completed a number of trades after winning the AL West in 2012.

Major League Signings

International Signings

  • Jean Carlo Rodriguez, IF.
  • Miguel Mercedes, 3B.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima, SS. two years, $6.5MM. $5.5MM Club option for 2015.

Notable Minor League Signings

Trades and Claims

Notable Losses

Needs Addressed

The Athletics addressed their infield this offseason, acquiring the versatile Jed Lowrie and signing a veteran Japanese infielder. Billy Beane also added pitching depth in an offseason that wasn’t quite as dramatic as his exceptionally productive 2011-12 winter.

The A's acquired Lowrie from the Astros for Chris Carter and prospects Max Stassi and Brad Peacock. Though Beane gave up lots of long-term value in the deal, Lowrie helps the Athletics now, addressing their biggest offseason need at a time that free agent infield options were limited (more on his deal later).

Uspw_7111744

In Hiroyuki Nakajima (pictured) the Athletics added an accomplished Japanese hitter who projects to replace Stephen Drew as the team's everyday shortstop. The A's are paying Nakajima like a backup, so financial considerations won't prevent the team from making a change if his production in the U.S. doesn't compare to his NPB line of .310/.381/.474. The A’s also had interest in re-signing Drew, who ultimately signed a one-year deal with Boston.

The A's gave up three prospects, including A.J. Cole, to Washington in the three-way deal that sent John Jaso to Oakland. Jaso, who's controllable through 2015, hits right-handed pitching really well. Manager Bob Melvin didn't hesitate to use platoons in 2012 and he has the making of a new one in Jaso and Derek Norris.

Early on in the offseason the A’s acquired Chris Young for Cliff Pennington in yet another deal with the Diamondbacks. The A’s did well to obtain an up-the-middle player with some offensive skills for Pennington, even though they don’t presently have a starting role for Young. Teams tend to find opportunities for talented bench players over the course of a six-month season, so expect Young to contribute.

Bartolo Colon re-signed with the A's on a one-year, $3MM contract that provides the team with additional depth. The 39-year-old will begin the season on the restricted list to serve a suspension for violating MLB's drug policy. Once he serves the final five games of his suspension he'll be able to contribute as a back-of-the-rotation starter. At $3MM this is a worthwhile low-risk, low-reward expenditure.

The A's added to their bullpen, exercising Grant Balfour's 2013 option and sending minor league right-hander Zach Thornton to Pittsburgh for Chris Resop. The 30-year-old Resop provides the A's with a durable arm; he made 60-plus appearances in both 2011 and 2012 with the Pirates.

Questions Remaining

The middle infield remains a question for the club, as it’s not clear how much Nakajima, Scott Sizemore and Jemile Weeks can contribute. Beane is a deal-maker and could obtain an upgrade midseason if necessary. However, there are rarely many above average middle infielders available in trades and the asking prices on the few quality players tend to be high.

Other teams could inquire about players like Young given the Athletics’ outfield depth. The team seems content to keep all of their outfielders for now, but could strike a deal if a need emerges in Oakland midseason.

Deal of Note

The A's entered the offseason in need of help on the left side of the infield. Lowrie, an oft-injured 28-year-old, represents an upgrade for the Athletics whether he plays shortstop, third base or second. They surrendered an intriguing collection of talent to acquire Lowrie, who's under team control for two more seasons. Even though he doesn't appear to be a long-term piece, Lowrie gives the A's what they need now. For a team set up to contend in 2013-14 this exchange makes sense. While the team assumes some risk here, the free agent market for shortstops was barren besides Drew, another player with recent health issues.

Overview

The A’s did a tremendous job at preventing opponents from scoring in 2012. With many of the same players back for another season, the club should stay in most games and contend again in 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Nationals Acquire Ian Krol

The Nationals announced that they acquired left-hander Ian Krol from the Athletics (Twitter link). The move completes the three-way trade that sent Michael Morse to Seattle in January. The A's acquired John Jaso in the deal and sent minor league right-handers A.J. ColeBlake Treinen and a player to be named to Washington.

Krol, 21, spent the 2012 season at Class A and Double-A. He spent most of the season with the Stockton Ports of the Class A California League, posting a 5.21 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings. The A's initially selected Krol in the seventh round of the 2009 amateur draft.



Brewers, Athletics Swap Minor Leaguers

The Brewers announced that they acquired third baseman Stephen Parker from the Athletics for right-hander Darren Byrd. Neither player has MLB experience.

The Athletics originally drafted Parker in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. The 25-year-old spent the 2012 season at Triple-A, where he posted a .256/.327/.390 batting line in 375 plate appearances. Parker, a left-handed hitter, has spent most of his minor league career playing first and third base.

Byrd, 26, signed with the Brewers as a minor league free agent in 2010. He spent three years in the Milwaukee farm system, pitching at Double-A Huntsville in 2012. He posted a 2.59 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 73 innings of relief work last year.



Athletics Release Garrett Olson

SUNDAY: Olson will sign with the Doosan Bears, tweets Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.

SATURDAY: The Athletics announced that they have released pitcher Garrett Olson so that he can pursue a pitching opportunity in Korea.  The left-hander signed a minor league deal with Oakland back in December but wasn't likely to make the squad.

Olson has spent parts of the last six seasons in the major leagues with the Orioles, Mariners, Pirates, and Mets.  The 29-year-old has a career 6.26 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9, including 44 starts.  Olson made 21 starts and 13 relief appearances for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate last season and posted a 4.63 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.



Minor Moves: Blanco, Hawkins, Tanner, Smith

Here are today's minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the page...

  • The Phillies re-signed infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports.  The club released Blanco a few weeks ago.  Blanco last played in the majors in 2011 and he has a career .634 OPS in 654 PA over six seasons with the Rangers, Cubs and Royals.  He spent last year with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.
  • The Mets recently released and quickly re-signed right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, Eddy reports. The move was just "procedural," according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (via Twitter), as the Mets needed to "correct something in [Hawkins'] contract."  Hawkins, 40, signed his original minor league deal with the Mets in January.
  • The Athletics signed middle infielder Antonio Lamas to a minor league deal, Eddy reports.  John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reported the A's were close to signing Lamas last month.  Lamas, 23, has a .307/.350/.437 line over 1504 PA for Monclova of the Mexican League since 2008.  He was primarily used as a shortstop but he played 100 games at second base in 2012.
  • The Orioles signed left-hander Clayton Tanner to a minor league deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports.  Tanner, a third-round pick of the Giants in the 2006 draft, has a career 3.85 ERA, 2.11 K/BB and 6.6 K/9 in 182 games (123 starts) over seven seasons in the Giants' and Reds' minor league systems.  O's executive VP Dan Duquette tells Kubatko that the team scouted Tanner when he pitched for Australia during the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Twins have signed first baseman/outfielder Curt Smith to a minor league deal, Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (Twitter links).  Smith has a 1.008 OPS in 24 ABs for the Netherlands in WBC play, helping lead the Dutch to the tournament semi-finals.  Smith was originally a 39th-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2008 and he has a .301/.341/.461 line in 1703 career minor league PA in the Cards' and Marlins' systems.



West Notes: Giants, Pill, Lowrie, A's, Mariners

Earlier today, we learned that there's sentiment in the Rangers organization that Nolan Ryan will stay with the club.  It's still possible that Ryan could jump ship over his altered role, but it won't be to bolt for the newest member of the AL West, the Astros.  Here's more out of the Western divisions..

  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Sulia) has been asked a possible deal sending the GiantsBrett Pill to the Yankees.  While Schulman has learned that the Yankees are not scouting Pill right now, a trade is not the craziest idea given the club's depth at first base.  So far, there is no indication that San Francisco is discussing such a deal with any team now.
  • When the A's first traded for Jed Lowrie, they didn't have a full-time position for him to play.   Now, Oakland has a new problem in that they aren't sure which spot to use him in since they are less-than-thrilled with Hiroyuki Nakajima at shortstop and Scott Sizemore at second base, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.  The A's inked Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5MM deal this winter.
  • Thanks in part to the July trades of Ichiro Suzuki and Brandon League, the Mariners managed to turn a $5.8MM profit in 2012, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns.  



Quick Hits: Stewart, Young, Bray, Athletics

About 40% of MLBTR readers that participated in tonight's poll believe that the Angels should have paid Mike Trout $1MM or more to avoid any sort of conflict with their budding superstar.  Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter) sees that as being too steep of a price as the Halos held all of the leverage and gain virtually nothing from a pay bump.  Here are some links from around baseball as Friday turns to Saturday..

  • Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart is anxious to get back on the field and show that he can stay healthy, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.  Stewart inked a non-guaranteed $2MM deal with Chicago this winter and could be cut loose for a small termination fee.
  • The PhilliesMichael Young knows that people are critical of his range but the third baseman believes that he has made the necessary adjustments to settle into the position, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The veteran is looking to make a smooth transition to his new role following the December trade that brought him over from the Rangers.
  • The Nationals sent Bill Bray down to minor league camp last week to work on his mechanics and the club will have until the middle of the season to evaluate him in the minors, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post.  A person familiar with Bray’s contract told Wagner that his opt-out date isn’t until June, giving the Nats plenty of time to try and get the left-hander up to speed.
  • David Laurila of Fangraphs spoke with A's director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference about the club's use of statistical analysis.









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