The A’s have some things to address, and it’s mostly defensive.
With winter meetings slated to begin Monday afternoon, it seems as though they’ll address at least a few needs within one calendar week, and can add the rest of the needed men through free agency.
Oakland’s primary needs are in the bullpen, and replacing two of last year’s starters who don’t fit in the clubhouse and on the field. The two are outfielder Josh Reddick and third baseman Brett Lawrie.
Sources tell SFBay that neither are well liked by the clubhouse, and it was clear in 2015, when neither hung with the rest of the group during postgame meals and during the typical pregame ritual.
Reddick and Lawrie were also defensive liabilities, though both could bring a nice value into the A’s system, whether it be major league talent or prospects.
The bullpen is also in need of talent.
Beyond Lawrie, Reddick and catcher Stephen Vogt, the A’s have little to offer in terms of major league talent. They do, though, have a wealth of big time prospects, and have the option of adding a considerable level of talent by offering one of their upper echelon youngsters.
A few ideas on what the A’s could do …
Trade Lawrie to the Yankees for relief pitcher Andrew Miller, who New York is reportedly listening on. Miller is one of the best closers in baseball, and would offer the A’s both an insurance policy if closer Sean Doolittle struggles to return to dominance, and would give Oakland the best 1-2 punch in baseball if both pitch at the peak of their talent.
Trade Reddick to Toronto for outfielder Kevin Pillar, who makes contact with the ball at a higher clip than Reddick, runs faster, and has defensive metrics that are off the charts. More important than metrics on Pillar, the eye test verifies everything — he is well above average in the majors in the outfield.
Pillar is also young, just 26-years-old, though he doesn’t have the power stroke that Reddick does. Being a California kid, like first baseman Mark Canha, shortstop Marcus Semien and outfielder Coco Crisp, Pillar would likely fit well with the youth in Oakland.
Move Stephen Vogt and Billy Butler to Boston for Junichi Tazawa and Brock Holt. Tazawa shores up the bullpen nicely, and Holt is a younger utility player than Ben Zobrist, and plays pretty darn well. Both Butler and Vogt offer some power that Boston simply doesn’t have much of, and the value shakes out pretty well.
Sign Pedro Alvarez, who was non tendered early this offseason but has significant upside as a designated hitter. Alvarez isn’t a premium defender by any stretch, but can hit for power with the best of them. His high strikeout rate could be troubling for some, though the A’s lacked a true home run threat for the 2015 season, and that hampered them with runners on and nobody to get them home with a single stroke.
Bring back Scott Kazmir on a one or two-year deal akin to the one he just finished. One source tells SFBay that the market for Kazmir’s service has been much slower than other free agent pitchers such as Mike Leake or Hisashi Iwakuma, both of whom have a significantly lower ceiling than the Texas native.
Do something uncharacteristic of the A’s and sign super-slugger Chris Davis. He’ll be expensive, and make it difficult to find a spot for first baseman Mark Canha, especially if Pedro Alvarez comes to Oakland, but Davis brings a lot of what Josh Donaldson did in 2014 for the A’s.
Davis is baseball’s premier power threat, and despite what should be a hefty asking price, undoubtedly makes Oakland’s top half very, very dangerous.
Make Jason Leskiw the new assistant general superintendent of parking enforcement when any mega-market team comes to town. No more shenanigans, there’s a new fake sheriff in town.