The A’s have executed a 180-degree turn as far as trade deadline strategy from a year ago.
After pushing all their chips in last July and trading prospects to acquire big-name talent for a run at the postseason, the A’s – now residing in the AL West cellar -- are headed the opposite direction this season.
They reinforced their commitment to the future Monday, trading closer Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets for 20-year-old Single-A pitcher Casey Meisner. That came on the heels of trading lefty Scott Kazmir to Houston for two other Single-A players, catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Daniel Mengden.
[STIGLICH: A's trade Tyler Clippard to Mets]
“One of our focuses here was (targeting) some guys that are farther away but maybe had some more upside, which is not maybe how we approached things in the (recent) past,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “Ultimately, if we’re going to have any sort of sustained success, it’s going to have to really be done organically and with a large group of players coming through (the system). It may take a little longer, but hopefully we’ll hold on to them longer.”
Does that mean A’s fans better develop patience before watching another contender at the Coliseum? Beane wouldn’t comment on his plan looking ahead to 2016, nor would he speak generally to whether he thought the A’s could challenge next season. But he did reference the Astros as a blueprint to follow – a team that spent several years building up its farm system and is now reaping the benefits by challenging for the AL West title.
Interestingly, Beane added that it “seems the environment is right” for the A’s to perhaps finally get the new ballpark they’ve been coveting in the not-too-distant future. The A’s hope is to have a core of young prospects who have developed by the time that ballpark opens.
Before you read too much into those words, Beane called it a gut feeling, saying he has no concrete information on negotiations for a ballpark between the team and city and county officials. It’s also worth mentioning that Beane expressed the exact same thoughts a few seasons back, talking of the desire to go young and build a core of players who could anchor the club as it ushered in a new stadium.
Unexpectedly, the A’s made a surprising run to the division title in 2012 and then began making roster moves more geared toward the “present” as they tried to milk the most from a three-year run of playoff appearances.
Perhaps Beane is right, and the environment is finally right for a new stadium, given there’s a new MLB commissioner, a new mayor in Oakland and the possibility of the Raiders bolting back to Los Angeles.
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At any rate, the A’s have traded Kazmir and Clippard, and utility man Ben Zobrist –- another player set to be a free agent after this season -- figures to also be dealt before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Beane wouldn’t comment on the probability of dealing Zobrist or any other veterans.
“I will say this, our trade talks really are focused on guys that we didn’t anticipate being here for next year,” Beane said. “We’re not discussing guys that we count on being here next year.”
That would seem to suggest that a player such as right fielder Josh Reddick, who is under team control for next season and will still be reasonably affordable in his third year of arbitration, won’t be going anywhere.
With Clippard gone, the A’s have no obvious candidate to promote to closer, though Drew Pomeranz, Edward Mujica, Fernando Rodriguez or Eric O’Flaherty could all merit consideration. Beane declined to elaborate on that issue.
As for Meisner, Monday’s acquisition, the GM spoke highly of the 6-foot-7 right-hander, a Texas native who was a third-round pick in 2013 out of high school. He runs his fastball into the mid-90’s and also throws a curve and changeup. He’ll report to Single-A Stockton.
“We’re very happy to get Casey,” Beane said. “He’s a guy we think will be a starter all the way through, a guy we liked out of the draft. He’s performed well in pro ball.”