The A’s are in need of some impact players at the minor league level if they’re to win the American League West or better in the next few seasons.
Perhaps it’s a product of surging at the right time, a bad division, over-achieving, or all of the aforementioned, but Oakland fans have been spoiled over the last 10 years before feeling the cavernous emptiness that comes with postseason defeat.
To overcome that, the A’s need to be aggressive at the trade deadline and acquire some players with superstar ceilings.
Baseball, perhaps, is the toughest of the major American sports to scout in. The player pool is vast, multi-layered and overwhelmingly underpopulated with big league level talent. And a lot of the superstars that enter the league were selected when they were supposed to be accepting their college admittance.
Take Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Anthony Rizzo and Nolan Arenado as examples. The boom or bust factor was high, even with seemingly limitless potential. The Angels, Pirates, Red Sox (Rizzo was dealt to the Cubs in 2010 as a minor leaguer) and Rockies all took home run strength swings, and they hit it out of the park.
Not often does this happen.
Which is why Oakland will need to offer a boatload to acquire a player with unyielding potential at the AA or AAA level this month.
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That means dealing Sonny Gray, Rich Hill and Josh Reddick in the same deal could be necessary. Marcus Semien, Sean Doolittle and Stephen Vogt for one or two players that have yet to take a legal drink of whiskey.
Every contending team in baseball has at least one true star on either side of the plate. A top 10 starter and a top 10 hitter. Some have more, like Boston and the Chicago Cubs. All have legitimate bullpens, and options for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
That’s the blueprint, and probably the minimum for what the A’s need to move on to the ALCS.
So offering a major package for top prospects might seem like an overpay to a few, but it’s the only way to get back to glory.
Pitchers like Pittsburgh’s Tyler Glasnow, the Dodgers’ Jose De Leon and St. Louis’ Alex Reyes will only get to the A’s farm by offering “win now” levels of talent, and in pairs or better.
Hitters, too, like Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, Pittsburgh’s Austin Meadows or the Rangers’ Joey Gallo.
Even offering minor league prospects to supplant any concerns over another team’s future depth could be considered. And it needs to happen.
Just like the Cubs gave Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija to Oakland in 2014, for top prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, the A’s have to shoot the moon this deadline.
Here are a few names I think the A’s stand a legitimate shot to land by offering the right package:
Rangers 3B Joey Gallo // Texas is short on starting pitching entering the stretch, and both Rich Hill and Sonny Gray could do wonders for their staff. Gallo is a power hitting cornerstone that has some of the potential that Giancarlo Stanton had two years in the bigs.
Gallo strikes out a ton, but his potential is huge. Most young players strike out at a high clip, so it’s not concerning.
Pirates OF Austin Meadows // Meadows is a plus player on offense and defense, but currently injured. He’s the best hitter in Pittsburgh’s farm, and universally recognized as a top 25 prospect. And the Pirates will have difficulty finding room for him as long as McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte are together.
Red Sox’s OF Andrew Benintendi // Possibly even better than Meadows, Benintendi has never finished a season in the minors with less than a .900 OPS. He’s fast, has a 1:1 K/BB ratio, and can hit for power. The total package.
Boston needs little, though, which is the caveat. Moving Hill, Gray and Vogt seems like an offer the Sox would need to seriously consider, and throwing in a minor leaguer to sweeten the pot would probably make it tough to turn down.
Cubs’ C Willson Contreras // The A’s don’t place much emphasis on catchers, but there’s a distinct possibility they’d change their mind to add this young man, especially if the phones don’t ring like they hope. The Cubs already have Kyle Schwarber blocking Contreras already, so it wouldn’t be overly painful for them to ship him out. Josh Reddick would fit well at Wrigley.
Pirates RHS Tyler Glasnow // The A’s could be one of the most dominant staffs in the history of baseball with Glasnow in the fold, especially if Dillon Overton, Sean Manaea and Daniel Mengden perform the way they’re expected to by some. Something like the Mets, with a fully healthy rotation.
Nationals RHS Lucas Giolito // It would shock the baseball world, probably, if Giolito were dealt. But so have many deals the A’s have made. Giolito is widely considered the best prospect in baseball, so a serious package would be needed if an offer were to even be considered. But don’t count it out.
Red Sox RHS Anderson Espinoza // Boston is loaded everywhere. Espinoza is 18, and could draw comparisons to the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect (or, who was until being called up) Julio Urias. Espinoza is a prodigy, and also somewhat of a wild card. Boston needs pitching more now than they will when he’s 21, so Espinoza being dealt is more likely than the chances of the Nats moving Giolito.
Dodgers RHS Jose De Leon // De Leon could and should have already debuted, but the Dodgers have a wealth of pitching options. They’ll probably be as aggressive at the deadline as they usually are. This time, though, they might need to part with one of their top prospects. De Leon is that guy now that Urias has hit the majors.