Next up in our Offseason In Review series, the Athletics.
Major League Signings
- Ben Sheets, SP: one year, $10MM.
- Coco Crisp, CF: one year, $5.5MM. Includes $5.75MM option for 2011 with a $500K buyout.
- Jack Cust, LF/DH: one year, $2.65MM.
- Justin Duchscherer, SP: one year, $2MM.
- Gabe Gross, OF: one year, $750K.
- Total spend: $20.9MM.
Notable Minor League Signings
- Michael Wuertz, RP: two years, $5.25MM. Includes $3.25MM club option for 2012 with a $250K buyout.
Trades and Claims
- Acquired 3B/OF Jake Fox, 2B Aaron Miles, and $1MM from Cubs for P Jeff Gray, P Ronny Morla, and OF Matt Spencer
- Claimed Rule 5 pick P Bobby Cassevah from Angels
- Acquired OF Michael Taylor for 1B Brett Wallace
- Acquired 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and 2B Eric Sogard from Padres for OF Aaron Cunningham and OF Scott Hairston
- Claimed 2B Steve Tolleson off waivers from Twins
- Acquired IF Adam Rosales and OF Willy Taveras from Reds for 2B Aaron Miles
- Traded P Dana Eveland to Blue Jays for cash
- Adam Kennedy, Bobby Crosby, Scott Hairston, Aaron Cunningham, Willy Taveras, Aaron Miles, Jeff Gray, Matt Spencer, Ronny Morla, Nomar Garciaparra, Edgar Gonzalez, Santiago Casilla, Dana Eveland, Kevin Cameron, Jay Marshall, Tommy Everidge, Brett Wallace
This was an offseason of risk-taking for GM Billy Beane and company. Three-year offers to Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro were rejected, but the A's succeeded in committing $17.5MM to Sheets, Duchscherer, and Crisp. The pitchers tallied zero big league innings in 2009, while Crisp managed 49 games.
To be fair, Duchscherer at $2MM isn't a huge risk, even as he begins his season with back and hip pain. That Casey Close found a $10MM guarantee for Sheets after the pitcher missed all of 2009 due to elbow surgery is surprising. Perhaps the A's considered overpaying for Sheets their best route to importing an ace for 2010. There's also the added benefit of trading him midseason if necessary. The ace alternatives included trading for Roy Halladay, Javier Vazquez, or Cliff Lee, or signing John Lackey.
The A's must love Crisp's defense as much as the Red Sox once did, to make a $5.5MM commitment despite the player's two shoulder surgeries in 2009. The club option is the silver lining on that contract. An outfield of Crisp, Rajai Davis, and Ryan Sweeney could be spectacular defensively, and the Taylor-Wallace swap fits this theme.
Beane dealt from an area of strength to get Kouzmanoff, a credible third baseman. To acquire Fox and Rosales, the cost was mostly the $2.6MM or so lost on Taveras' salary, as the A's can do without Gray, Morla, and Spencer. Fox is a right-handed Cust without the walks, but at least the A's control the former Cub through 2015 if they choose. Rosales can theoretically fill a utility infield role that would've cost a million or more to fill in free agency anyway.
The A's will need stellar pitching and defense to win the AL West, because their offense projects to be in the bottom half of the league again. Even past their expected Opening Day rotation, most A's starters project to post ERAs in the low 4.00s and have the upside for more. The bullpen could be the league's best once again. The A's look like they have a shot this year, especially if they have the flexibility to trade for a bat midseason. I should warn you, though, that I liked the A's heading into 2009 as well.