Many analysts believe the Athletics aren’t done making trades after consummating yesterday’s blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays. Oakland traded Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Brett Lawrie and three prospects (MLBTR link). While the value is easy to see for the Blue Jays, the deal also makes sense for the A’s as part of a series of moves, according to Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. For at least a week, it’s been thought that the additions of Billy Butler and Ike Davis could signal a trade of Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, or John Jaso. We’ve also heard increasing chatter about Jeff Samardzija, including recent ties to the White Sox.
Moss, 31, fits the sell-high mold of the A’s. After three straight seasons of at least 20 home runs, MLBTR estimates he’ll earn $7.1MM via arbitration. He’s club controlled through 2016. As an aging, increasingly expensive slugger with questionable defense, he seems like the perfect trade candidate. His power numbers saw a downturn in 2014 due to a late season hip injury, although he memorably bashed two home runs in the Wild Card game. There are few comparable deals for left-handed designated hitters with about two-years of club control. One example might be Seth Smith, who the A’s dealt for a season of Luke Gregerson prior to 2014. Moss is probably slightly more valuable than Smith, who cost less but was due to hit free agency after just one season.
Reddick, a left-handed outfielder entering his age 28 season, could make for an intriguing option. Unlike Moss, Reddick rates as a plus defender. In an injury riddled season, he quietly punished right-handed pitching with a .280/.330/.519 line in 288 plate appearances. He’s an obvious platoon candidate, but his defense is good enough to justify an everyday role for a second division club. Reddick is estimated to earn $3.7MM in arbitration and is club controlled through 2016.
Jaso is likely the roster’s sell-low candidate. The erstwhile catcher emerged as a viable designated hitter against right-handed pitching. Unfortunately, clubs may be skittish about using him as a catcher – he ended the season on the disabled list with a concussion. The 31-year-old is thought to earn about $3.3MM in his final season of club control.
Samardzija is perhaps the most high profile of Oakland’s trade targets. The ace is entering his age 30 season coming off the best year of his career. He’s one season away from free agency. The A’s dealt their top prospect and several other notable players to acquire Samardzija and Jason Hammel during the season. Undoubtedly, Oakland would like to add an important piece of the future with any Samardzija trade. Recent rumors link the A’s to White Sox infielders Alexei Ramirez, Marcus Semien, and Tim Anderson. If Samardzija is willing to negotiate an extension as part of a deal (unlikely but not impossible), it could increase his trade value.
Other A’s who could prove expendable include Scott Kazmir, Craig Gentry, Sam Fuld, and Sean Doolittle. Kazmir is under contract for just one more season, although he may work better as a mid-season target. Gentry draws some of the best defensive marks in the league and hits well against left-handed pitching. He’s a useful complementary piece on any roster with a $1.5MM estimated price tag and two years of club control. Fuld also supplies good defense, except his bat isn’t as easily leveraged. He’s set to earn about $1.6MM this offseason via arbitration and can be controlled through 2016. As for Doolittle, the A’s may seem unlikely to trade him after his breakout 2014, but they do have a history of selling their relief aces at peak value.