For several weeks, scouts have been in regular attendance at A’s (46-55) games in search of the next Oakland trade piece. While there are several prospects worth consideration, the top target is right fielder Josh Reddick.
Reddick (.296/.373/.442 2016 slash) will be a free agent at season’s end, and extension negotiations have borne no fruit. As has been the workings of the A’s recent stretches of success, the inability to lock the 29 year-old will force the team to look for the highest possible return, rather than lose him for nothing. But who would constitute such return?
Being that the 2012 Gold Glove Award winner is, in many respects, having the best year of his career, his value has maxed out.
Among the possible suitors are the team boasting baseball’s best record the Chicago Cubs (59-40), perpetual buyers the Los Angeles Dodgers (57-44), and the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians (57-41).
The Dodgers have the greatest need for one of baseball’s best two-way outfielders.
The Dodgers would likely not offer top pitching prospects Julio Urias (MLB.com No. 2 overall prospect) or Jose De Leon (No. 20). But, the A’s may be able to pry High-A Rancho Cucamonga pitcher Grant Holmes (No. 53) or Double-A Tulsa outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 89), offering Reddick as the tool LA needs to chase down the division leading San Francisco Giants (59-41).
Holmes (8-3, 3.86 ERA), a right-handed starter, and Verdugo (.289/.349/.444), a left-handed slasher, are each 20 years old. Both offer the type of quick return prospect that the A’s like in deadline deals, as they are just a couple years from potentially being big-league ready.
While the Cubs are in search of depth, the fact that they have three outfielders they are happy to pencil in on a daily basis will limit their offer.
Candelario, MLB.com’s No. 7 third base prospect, has slashed .249/.353/.422 at two minor league stops this season, though he has bolstered those numbers in his time in Triple-A (.303/.403/.521). He also made his major league debut in 2016, going 1-for-11 with five strikeouts in five games.
Outfielder Mark Zagunis (.273/.350/.477 slash in 47 games with Triple-A Iowa) is perhaps a more likely target.
Cleveland offers a tempered medium between the Dodgers, who are in buy-high mode, and the Cubs, who are search of assistance rather than replacement. The Indians are in need of upgrade, if they are serious about their pursuit of “The Land’s” second championship this year.
In exchange for Reddick, the A’s could aim as high as slugging first baseman Bobby Bradley (.260/.379/.496 slash in 92 games at High-A Lynchburg) or right-handed starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (10-1, 3.17 ERA in 16 starts with Triple-A Columbus). Clevinger, 25, made his major league in 2016, going 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in four games — 16-1/3 innings.
Along with the three aforementioned contenders, the Giants have also been sniffing around the Oakland clubhouse, looking to fill the gap left by the oft-injured outfielders Angel Pagan and currently DL’ed Hunter Pence. A deal between the two Bay Area rivals is unlikely, however, given their historic inability to reach an agreement.
Should the two pull off a deal, though, a name that could be involved is Sam Coonrod, who has gone 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in six starts since being his move to Double-A Richmond — 5-3, 1.98 ERA in 11 starts with High-A San Jose. He, like Holmes, offers promise that is two (or three) years in waiting.
The A’s front office has shown much interest in stoking the fire of extension talks with the five-year Athletic.
But the two sides are as far apart as one-plus year at $5 million per, according to San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. Given the separation, it appears the only thing that could keep “Red” in Oakland is a 2016 postseason push — what he says will need a 23-7-type run for legitimacy.