With all their wheeling and dealing of late, it seems the Oakland A’s stole the thunder from their upcoming trip to the winter meetings.
Surely they’re tapped out on surprises after swinging three trades and signing a free agent pitcher last week, right?
We should know better.
When it comes to offseason activity, no team strikes when the iron is hot quite like the A’s. So as the four-day winter meetings kick off Monday at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., expect to hear the A’s pop up often in the rumor mill.
They still hold a valuable trade chip in starting pitcher Brett Anderson. All indications point to the lefty being dealt, the only question being which team offers up a return package that prompts the A’s to pull the trigger.
Will it happen at the meetings, the centerpiece of Major League Baseball’s offseason?
“This is a time period where the industry is active, and you want to make sure you’re a part of it,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “It’s not as hectic as it was (last week), but there’s a lot we’ve got on our plate that we’re at least talking about.”
The A’s always seem to be near the center of discussion at the winter meetings, but their track record for completing business at the event is minimal.
Beane likes to say that spending four days in a conventional-style setting actually hinders teams’ ability to make transactions. There is so much media swarming the meetings – not to mention young wanna-be GMs wielding resumes and hoping to schmooze with front office folks – that many team officials stay tucked away in their hotel suites, holding dialogue away from the public frenzy taking place downstairs.
The A’s sometimes use the meetings to lay the foundation for moves that happen in the future. Sometimes the future arrives fast.
At the 2011 meetings in Dallas, the gossip was that Oakland was talking trade involving pitchers Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey. The day after the meetings ended, Cahill and reliever Craig Breslow were shipped to Arizona for starter Jarrod Parker, reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Collin Cowgill.
Two weeks later, Gonzalez and a minor leaguer were traded to Washington for pitchers Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and catcher Derek Norris. Just a week after that, Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney were off to Boston in a deal that sent outfielder Josh Reddick, pitcher Raul Alcantara and infielder Miles Head to Oakland.
But what will the A’s be asking for in return for Anderson?
The 25-year-old lefty is attractive partly because he’ll make just $8 million next season – a relative bargain considering the salaries being handed out to pitchers this winter – and because he has the potential to be a front-line starter if he can shed the injury problems of the past few seasons.
The A’s could use another quality hitter to lengthen their batting order, and if you’re brainstorming positions that could be open for upgrading, catcher, second base and perhaps right field – where Reddick struggled offensively last season – should probably head that list.
But there’s no indication at this point that the A’s will venture from the status quo at those spots. And the argument can be made that if Reddick recaptures similar hitting form to what he showed in 2012 – when he had 32 home runs – that would be like an addition in itself.
Having signed left-handed starting pitcher Scott Kazmir last week, and acquiring relievers Jim Johnson and Luke Gregerson along with outfielder Craig Gentry, it’s very possible the A’s instead look to score a package of prospects for Anderson.
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“Having a lot of good starting pitching puts you in a good position for the season,” Beane said, “and it could put you in position for the offseason, where you could use that to help out other areas of the organization.”
A Fox Sports report Saturday claimed that the A’s and Colorado Rockies discussed a trade for Anderson but could not work out an agreement and have abandoned the idea. Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland, Seattle and the New York Yankees all have been linked to Anderson.
The Blue Jays are known to have liked Anderson going back to 2012. The Yankees re-signed starter Hiroki Kuroda this weekend, perhaps ending their interest in Anderson. The Twins have added starters Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, so they may not be a match. The Mariners want starting pitching but are also considered to be a potential suitor for Tampa Bay’s David Price.