Billy Beane reiterated Sunday that the A’s aren’t looking to trade ace Sonny Gray anytime soon.
Speaking on MLB Network Radio, Oakland’s top baseball ops official said he’s turned away several teams who have come hard after Gray, a first-time All-Star last season who finished third in the American League Cy Young race.
“We were adamant that we wanted to hold on to Sonny,” Beane said. “I don’t think any GM can ever say, ‘This is never gonna happen.’ That being said, we have resisted some pretty aggressive suitors this winter and anticipate that being the case going forward. The guy’s a No. 1 starter, a two-plus (year player in terms of service time), an anchor for any staff, and particularly ours.
"(Trading him) has never been our intention going into this winter, and I would say that would be the case for the foreseeable future.”
Gray, 26, is an enticing trade target for pitching-hungry teams, both because of the success he’s enjoyed since his big league debut in 2013, and the fact he won’t hit free agency until after the 2019 season, which will keep him relatively affordable until then. The A’s have been open to trading star players with lots of team control remaining (see: Donaldson, winter 2014).
Beane suggested during the recent winter meetings that signing Gray to a long-term extension would come with a certain amount of risk, given the payroll ramifications it would have for a team not known for spending money with abandon.
That leaves open the possibility that the A’s could look to deal Gray at some point in the future, but apparently that time is not now. He’ll enter the 2016 campaign coming off a 14-7 season in which he posted a 2.73 ERA, third best in the AL.
Another interesting nugget from Beane’s radio interview – he said any more noteworthy moves the A’s make before spring training would likely come via the trade route. General manager David Forst said as the winter meetings concluded that he and his staff were still engaging in trade discussions.
But it’s wise not to count the A’s out of the free agent market completely. There are numerous quality players still available -- pitchers and position players -- and Beane even noted some impact signings the A’s have made in past offseasons after the start of January, including Bartolo Colon and Yoenis Cespedes leading into the 2012 season.