Despite recent allegations of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct, Bruce Maxwell is still viewed by the Athletics as their catcher next season, GM David Forst told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle at this week’s GM Meetings. “We’ll let the criminal proceedings play out,” said Forst, “But from a baseball standpoint, I expect Bruce to be our catcher next year.” Maxwell has already plead not guilty to the charges brought forth against him after he allegedly waved a gun in the face of a Postmates delivery employee last month. The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reported earlier this week that there’s no trial date yet, but a hearing wouldn’t occur until early 2018.
Even without Maxwell’s off-the-field issues, though, catcher would seem to be a potential area for improvement for the Athletics. Maxwell will turn 27 in a month, has batted just .251/.331/.354 in 354 MLB plate appearances over the past two seasons and has thrown out a respectable but unspectacular 25 percent of opposing base thieves in his big league career. Baseball Prospectus rated him as an excellent pitch framer coming up through the minors, though he’s yet to post quality marks with the A’s.
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- Within that same piece, Shea also reports that the A’s have some interest in White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia. Oakland is known to be on the lookout for a right-handed-hitting outfielder that can play left field now that the trade of Ryon Healy has opened the door for Khris Davis to serve as the DH. While Garcia, 26, checks some boxes for Oakland, however, he’s not a perfect fit; the young slugger is only controlled for another two seasons, making him more of a mid-term play than a long-term asset. Beyond that, he’s only played 118 innings in left field as a big leaguer, and his defensive ratings in right field haven’t been positive on the whole (though they’ve improved dramatically in the past two seasons). The Sox will be open to moving Garcia, though, who figures to be one of many options Oakland pursues this winter.
- Forst told reporters following last night’s Healy trade that the Mariners first contacted the Athletics about Healy “right after” the regular season ended (link via MLB.com’s Jane Lee). The two sides talked on and off over the past month, and Forst notes that right-hander Emilio Pagan, one of two players Oakland received in the deal, is someone they’ve tried to acquire from the Mariners in the past. “Once it was clear [Pagan] could be part of this deal, then we spent the last week or so trying to work it out,” said Forst. Lee notes that the A’s will continue to seek bullpen help and could place an emphasis on finding a left-handed reliever.
- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto also spoke with reporters following last night’s trade and firmly stated that Healy is expected to be the team’s regular first baseman (link via Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times). “We are planning on Ryon playing first base in an every-day or near-every-day role or basis,” said Dipoto shortly after praising Healy’s all-fields power. “…He’s performed quite well against left-hand pitching. You saw a little bit of a dip against righties. But I think that’s the league adjusting to Ryon and now is his chance to adjust back.” Divish also has quotes from Healy about being traded and further quotes from Dipoto on the difficulty of informing Pagan that he’d been dealt.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels said at the GM Meetings that his team is approaching the 2018 season with the mindset that Delino DeShields Jr. will be the center fielder, writes Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That doesn’t entirely rule out the possibility of signing a center fielder, as Daniels stated that DeShields could end up in left if the team lands a center fielder “that makes us better as a club.” It does, however, suggest that center field may not be a top priority for Texas this winter. Daniels praised DeShields for his defensive improvements in center over the past couple of seasons, reminding that he’s a converted second baseman who has been learning on the job.
- Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle runs down some of the decisions the Astros will face as they look to set their roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft, noting that outfield prospect Ramon Laureano could prove one of the most difficult calls to make. The 23-year-old Laureano elevated his prospect stock with a huge 2016 campaign (.319/.428/.528 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A) but faltered significantly in his first full season in Double-A. Kaplan notes that lefty Cionel Perez “is certain to be protected” and also lists some other candidates that could land on the 40-man roster by next Monday’s deadline.