The Athletics have been baseball’s most unexpected success story in 2018, and on the heels of a playoff berth and at least 96 wins, the front office plans to sit down with manager Bob Melvin to discuss a contract extension after the season, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports.
Regardless of how the 2018 season had played out, it seemed like the organization had Melvin in its long-term plans. The Yankees reportedly wanted to interview Melvin for their managerial vacancy last winter but were denied permission, and general manager David Forst went on record with John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle shortly thereafter to publicly declare that Melvin is “absolutely the right guy” to guide the Athletics’ emerging young core.
That statement rings truer than ever now as Melvin’s upstart Athletics gear up for an American League Wild Card showdown against the Yankees next week. Melvin and his staff have helped to guide a group that has, remarkably, seen top starter Sean Manaea undergo shoulder surgery that’ll likely keep him out through 2019 and lost another four rotation pieces (or potential rotation pieces) to Tommy John surgery in Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Daniel Gossett and top prospect A.J. Puk.
Oakland has incredibly relied on a patchwork rotation of Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson and a blast-from-the-past pairing of former green-and-gold stars Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. With the starting staff in shambles (relative to Opening Day expectations), Oakland’s bullpen, anchored by a juggernaut breakout from Blake Treinen, has thrived. Trade acquisitions Fernando Rodney, Jeurys Familia and Ryan Buchter have all thrown well, while free-agent pickup Yusmeiro Petit has been an invaluable multi-inning piece and rookie Lou Trivino has been similarly excellent. Meanwhile, a rising core of position players headlined by emerging superstar Matt Chapman, young slugger Matt Olson and out-of-nowhere center field sensation Ramon Laureano paired with steady veterans Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien to propel a second-half surge for the ages.
Pulling the strings behind it all has been Melvin, who in addition to perhaps being rewarded with a new contract could also take home American League Manager of the Year honors. He’s currently signed through the 2019 season — the same season through which Forst and executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane are signed — but it seems as though the Oakland front office is understandably interested in prolonging that relationship. The 56-year-old Melvin has been Oakland’s manager since June of 2011 and is 633-597 since being appointed. This will be the Athletics’ fourth postseason appearances under his watch and the team’s fourth winning effort in his seven full seasons at the helm.