The Athletics will boost their payroll in 2019, but general manager David Forst tells John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that there’s no set number following meetings with ownership. Oakland needs to address its rotation, second base and catcher situations, but Forst cautions that the A’s aren’t “going to shock anyone with huge deals.” Shea writes that while deals for Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel won’t come together for the A’s, they’ll still be active in searching for upgrades. As for second base and catcher, the latter of the two is a more pressing urge for Oakland. Forst explains that the presence of Franklin Barreto as an MLB-ready option creates less urgency at second base than at catcher, where Sean Murphy, a fellow well-regarded prospect, is a bit further from the Majors.
More from the division…
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow discussed his team’s options for replacing utlityman Marwin Gonzalez, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart covers. Moving Yuli Gurriel around the diamond could help the club make up for the loss of flexibility. Perhaps notably, Luhnow specifically references a “post-Marwin world,” which could be telling with regard to how the organization feels about its chances to retain its most versatile player. Meanwhile, says Luhnow, he’s “looking at different options to add more to our offense.” Adding a big stick certainly seems to make sense under that roster alignment, as the club would have flexibility to get a new player into the lineup at DH, first base, or the corner outfield.
- Speaking of the Astros, catching is another obvious area to address. The club has some level of interest in Yasmani Grandal, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter), with the Mets also showing early signs of intrigue. As the top catcher on the free-agent market, Grandal will garner interest from a wide slate of teams. At present, the Astros’ top internal option behind the dish is Max Stassi.
- Veteran catcher Wilson Ramos is of interest to the Angels, according to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times, with at least four other teams also in pursuit early. The fit for the bat-first backstop is perhaps not as clean in Los Angeles as it might be for some other clubs, as most of the Halos’ DH plate appearances seem already to be spoken for with Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols figuring to garner significant playing time in that capacity. Given Ramos’ durability issues, he’d be a more logical fit for an American League club with plenty of DH at-bats available, though he’ll certainly draw interest from clubs lacking in DH time and from National League clubs as well.
- Don Wakamatsu, who spent the 2018 season as the Rangers’ bench coach before assuming the role of interim manager late in the season, will return to the organization in 2019, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Wakamatsu interviewed for the managerial opening that eventually went to Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward, but he’ll return to the 2019 staff despite being passed over for the job in the end.