The A’s will arrive at next week’s Winter Meetings having already been a very active team this offseason.
Nothing figures to change come Monday, when the four-day meetings kick off at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.
Oakland is always front and center in rumors and speculation at the Winter Meetings. All signs point to the A’s looking to stay busy during the marquee event of Major League Baseball’s offseason.
Already they’ve signed free agent starter Rich Hill and acquired infielder Jed Lowrie, first baseman Yonder Alonso and relievers Liam Hendriks and Marc Rzepczynski in three separate trades. They’re looking to continue bolstering the pitching staff –- the bullpen in particular –- and they’ve got trade chips they’re willing to dangle in infielders Brett Lawrie and Danny Valencia, the former in particular.
“Arms are still a priority for us,” A’s general manager David Forst said Wednesday. “There are some other conversations that have unfolded … Some of the other teams have checked in on guys. There’s going to be plenty of conversation unfolding over the next 10 days.”
With David Price having already signed a $217 million contract with Boston and Zack Greinke possibly signing before Monday, the two top free agent starters both may be off the market before the meetings even begin. But there are no shortage of storylines.
Count the A’s among several teams looking to find relief help, either through free agency or trade. They’ve parted with Jesse Chavez and Drew Pomeranz -– two potential bullpen pieces who were dealt away in the Hendriks and Alonso trades, respectively. Also gone are relievers Dan Otero and Pat Venditte (claimed on waivers), Fernando Abad (elected free agency after being waived) and Edward Mujica, who left via free agency.
The A’s are interested in free agent Ryan Madson, per an mlb.com report, and it makes sense that they’re on the lookout for late-inning relief help, specifically, after shipping Pomeranz to San Diego. The 35-year-old Madson is coming off a terrific season with Kansas City, and mlbtraderumors.com predicts him for a three-year, $15 million contract.
But there’s also the trade route to continue exploring.
An important question is how much value other teams place on a player such as Lawrie, and what they’d be willing to give up for him. He turns just 26 in January, can play either second or third base and hit a career-high 16 home runs last season. However, his injury history could be a red flag to teams, as well as the 24 errors he committed last season (18 at third).
One major league scout told CSN California that he thinks the A’s would be wise to package Lawrie with another player to get the maximum return.
The White Sox might be a match because they need a third baseman and have a surplus of relievers from which to deal. The Astros are among other teams to have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Lawrie, but they’re looking for bullpen help themselves, so any deal with them might net something at other positions.
The A’s remain in search of starting pitching, even after signing Hill. And Friday, a report from the South Korea-based Yonhap News Agency suggested the A’s are taking “a long look” at Korean outfielder Kim Hyun-soo, who is a free agent and trying to make the jump to the majors.
Kim, 27, plays left field and is a .318 career hitter in nine seasons playing in the Korea Baseball Organization. He hit a career-best 28 homers last season. According to the report, Kim has received “concrete offers” from major league teams but the specific teams to have offered aren’t listed.
There’s been no indication yet from within the A’s organization of interest in Kim.
The A’s already have Coco Crisp slated for left field if he’s healthy. It also appears Mark Canha could get time in left given the addition of Alonso at first base. With Billy Burns, Josh Reddick and Sam Fuld currently in the outfield mix as well, any pursuit of Kim would make the most sense if the A’s were looking to unload a player.