After falling short in the AL wild card game, the Athletics are looking ahead to what they hope is another year of contention in 2019. Baseball operations executive VP Billy Beane and general manager David Forst met with reporters (including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and NBCSports.com’s Ben Ross) today to discuss some pressing matters as the A’s enter the offseason…
- The A’s have had “some preliminary conversations” with Khris Davis’ representatives about a contract extension, Beane said. The two sides have already touched base about an extension multiple times this year, initially a one-year deal to cover Davis’ final year of arbitration eligibility in 2019, and then talks of a multi-year agreement over the summer. After a league-best 48 homers, Davis is due for a big arbitration raise over his $10.5MM salary from 2018, and any sort of pricey extension is pretty rare for the low-payroll Athletics. Still, Beane did say last year that the team was looking to identify and extend players it felt were cornerstones, and Davis’ consistent power production has certainly been a big boost to the Oakland lineup.
- A contract extension for manager Bob Melvin is likely coming by early next week. “Bob is one of the best in the game and he’s perfect for us. The idea is he’s here for a long time and for the rest of his career,” Beane said. The two sides were expected to meet after the season to discuss a new deal, and it appears as though negotiations will wrap up in quick fashion. Oakland has a 634-599 record and four postseason appearances over Melvin’s eight seasons as manager, and this year’s 97-win campaign certainly made Melvin deserving of a longer commitment beyond the end of the 2019 season, when his current deal expires. The length of Melvin’s next contract will be of interest, given that Slusser reported over the summer about rumblings that the trio of Melvin, Beane, and Forst might not stay together beyond 2019 — Melvin’s deal could give a hint about Beane and/or Forst’s future.
- The A’s figure to have interest in re-signing Jonathan Lucroy, with Slusser feeling that Lucroy would be looking for a two-year deal but the team would prefer another one-year contract. Prospect Sean Murphy looks to be the catcher of the future, though “Sean’s got all of three games at Triple-A, so it’s hard to say where he starts 2019,” Forst said. Murphy hit .288/.358/.498 over 289 PA at Double-A this season, though his season was shortened by a broken hamate bone. Until Murphy gets more seasoning, Lucroy would be a logical choice as a veteran bridge, and finding that multi-year free agent deal could be difficult for Lucroy given that he was forced to settle for a one-year pact in free agency last offseason and is now coming off a much weaker year at the plate. In a separate piece yesterday, Slusser reported that there hadn’t yet been any talks between Lucroy and the Athletics.
- Free agent second baseman Jed Lowrie reiterated that he wants to stay with the A’s, saying he has “made it abundantly clear” to all parties. Oakland had interest in an extension back in July, so there certainly appears to be some momentum on both sides to work out a new deal. Lowrie turns 35 in April, though a multi-year appears to be in order after back-to-back impressive seasons — the veteran hit .272/.356/.448 with 37 homers and 86 doubles in 1325 PA since the start of the 2017 campaign.
- In an appearance on the A’s Plus podcast with Slusser back in August, reliever Shawn Kelley hinted that “it’s possible” 2018 could be his last season. “I’ve told a lot of my close friends [and] my family, that it would take something pretty either convenient location-wise or something that maybe I couldn’t turn down to probably get me to come back to another Spring Training,” Kelley said. That would seemingly put a return to the A’s in question, as the Kelley family’s offseason home is in Chattanooga (far removed from Oakland or the Athletics’ Spring Training camp in Mesa, Arizona), though his feelings could have changed since the time the podcast was released. Arm issues could be one reason for Kelley’s decision, as he has two Tommy John surgeries on his record and joked that “my elbow is about 85 [years old], it feels like some days.” Performance-wise, the 34-year-old Kelley is still pitching at a high level, bouncing back from an injury-shortened 2017 to post a 2.94 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 4.55 K/BB rate over 49 innings for the Nationals and A’s this season, though he also missed two weeks to the DL with an ulnar nerve problem.