Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle takes an interesting look at the future of the Athletics’ baseball operations and field leadership. She cites “increasing speculation in baseball circles and among those who know the A’s higher-ups” that the existing combination of VP of baseball ops Billy Beane, GM David Forst, and manager Bob Melvin may not be maintained past the 2019 campaign. The club is not obligated contractually beyond next season to Beane or Melvin, with the notable exception of Beane’s small stake in the team itself — a potential future wrinkle to keep in mind. Forst’s contract status is not publicly known. As Slusser explains, there’s a general sense that change is afoot in Oakland, though the direction (let alone the outcome) is not yet clear. It’s a worthwhile examination of the A’s organization that you’ll want to read for yourself to appreciate fully.
Here’s more from the AL West:
- The Angels continue to emphasize that the next steps for injured superstar Shohei Ohtani will not be decided until his sprained elbow ligament has a chance to respond to recent treatment. That said, manager Mike Scioscia says there’s significant internal optimism that the news will be good, as Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). For the time being, Ohtani is limited to taking some swings with his left arm. It’ll still be two or three weeks until more is known.
- Astros owner Jim Crane and newly-promoted president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow discussed their plans for the future after announcing a new contract for Luhnow yesterday, as MLB.com’s Christian Boutwell writes. Crane says that Luhnow deserves “a lot of the credit” for the club’s World Series win last year and promising future outlook. It’s the possibility of a sustainable run of success, meanwhile, that has Luhnow excited. “[T]his next phase of keeping this organization at its high level for an extended period of time, that’s what drives me, that challenge,” he said. Despite his new title, Luhnow will continue to function as the general manager and will hang onto that label as well, though he says he’ll be willing to hand it off to someone else if that proves necessary. Luhnow also suggested that there’s a strong commitment to skipper A.J. Hinch, whose contract expires after the current season but seems likely to be extended at some point.
- The Rangers have a crowded infield mix now with Elvis Andrus re-joining the active roster. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News explains, the organization hopes to keep all of its primary options on the field quite often, allowing Jurickson Profar to continue receiving ample opportunities while also letting Rougned Odor work through his struggles at the plate. Skipper Jeff Banister says this will be accomplished by utilizing third baseman Adrian Beltre as a DH with some frequency and allowing Andrus some extra rest. Utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa, meanwhile, is going to attempt to add to his versatility by suiting up behind the dish, as Grant tweets. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation plays out for the struggling Rangers, who could weigh trades involving several of these players. In particular, Beltre (who’ll be a free agent at season’s end) and Andrus (who can opt out of his contract) seem to be plausible candidates.