Athletics

Analysis: Odds of A's trading for Miami's Yelich or Ozuna

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Analysis: Odds of A's trading for Miami's Yelich or Ozuna

Any time you hear of the A’s entering what looks to be a “quiet” offseason, be suspicious.

Rarely do they sit on their hands and do nothing. Even after an encouraging finish to the 2017 season, with the emergence of several prospects suggesting the team might lay low this winter and stay the course, there are signs that they could be open for serious business.

A report Wednesday from the San Francisco Chronicle suggested the A’s have interest in two of the Miami Marlins’ stud outfielders — Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. The idea of acquiring either fuels the growing speculation that Oakland is considering trading Ryon Healy, which would allow Khris Davis to slide into the regular DH spot and make room to add a stronger defensive corner outfielder.

The power-hitting Ozuna, who turns 27 on Sunday, is a two-time All-Star who won a Gold Glove in left field this past season, and he’s under team control for two more seasons via arbitration. Yelich is under contract for the next four years at $43.25 million (plus a club option for 2022), a relative steal for a player who slashed .290/.373/.460 combined over the past two seasons and turns just 26 next month.

Given their lean payroll commitments right now, the A’s could absorb the contract of either. More importantly, both are young enough — and cost-controllable enough moving forward — to fit into Oakland’s current rebuilding plan.

So it all makes sense in theory. In reality, the odds of the A’s acquiring Yelich or Ozuna appear steep.

It’s no secret the Marlins are looking to shed salary and restock their farm system under new ownership. The factors that would make either player appeal to the A’s — youth and affordability — also make them appealing to many clubs who have ambitions for contending in 2018 and boast deep farm systems from which to deal. The competition will be fierce. Miami can ask for the moon and no doubt will.

This is where the A’s have to exercise judgement; weigh the pros and cons of a blockbuster deal to land either Ozuna or Yelich. The risk isn’t financial. It comes in the caliber of prospects Oakland would have to fork over. It’s hard to imagine the A’s parting with Matt Chapman, Matt Olson or other foundation pieces who have already shown they are major league contributors (with Healy an exception).

It stands to reason that in any potential deal, Miami would want a chunk of Oakland’s high-end pitching talent in the farm system. And the feeling here is that the A’s shouldn’t part with 6-foot-7 lefty A.J. Puk, their top pitching prospect. They better think long and hard before dealing other highly touted hurlers such as Logan Shore and Grant Holmes too.

The A’s have worked diligently in recent years to acquire the top arms in their farm system, and the past two seasons have shown just how fragile Oakland’s pitching depth can be due to injuries. As things stand in the organization, they can afford to part with some of their top position-player prospects more than their best young pitchers.

But it comes down to what the Marlins demand in return. Either of Miami’s terrific young outfielders would look great in green and gold. But the cost will be huge.

And if the A’s deem the price tag too high, they will pass. Given the encouraging direction they’re going with their current group, maintaining the status quo isn’t such a bad “Plan B” anyway.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

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Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9. 

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

The New York Yankees Wednesday announced that they have acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers in exchange for future considerations.

Wilson, 29, led the Seattle Seahawks to the 2014 Super Bowl championship, defeating the Denver Broncos, 43-8. At age 25, Wilson became the third-youngest quarterback to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory.

He has played the past six seasons (2012-17) with Seattle. A four-time Pro-Bowler, Wilson has completed 1,815-of-2,834 pass attempts (64.0 percent) for 22,176 yards and 161 touchdowns. He has compiled a career starting record of 65-30-1. In 2017, Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes.

"We've admired Russell's career from afar for quite some time," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. "This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession. 

"After talking to a number of our players, there is a genuine excitement in having Russell join us for a short time in camp. We are all looking forward to gaining insight into how he leads teammates toward a common goal, prepares on a daily basis for the rigors of his sport, and navigates the successes and failures of a season."

The Richmond, Va., native was originally selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and was acquired by Texas in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. In 2014 and '15, Wilson participated in team workouts at Rangers spring training camp.

In 93 career minor league games between Rookie-level Tri-City (2010) and Single-A Asheville (2011) in Colorado's system, Wilson hit .229/.354/.356 (72-for-315) with 58R, 9 doubles, 8 triples, 5HR, 26RBI and 19SB. In his last 15 games with Asheville in 2011, Wilson hit .302 (16-for-53) with 13R, 5 extra-base hits, 9RBI and 5SB.

A two-sport athlete in college, Wilson graduated from North Carolina State University in 2010. Using his last year of amateur eligibility, Wilson enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and quarterbacked the Badgers to a co-Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance following the 2011 season. 

Wilson is expected to be in Major League camp in March. While he is in Tampa, Wilson will participate in pregame workouts with the club and watch games from the Yankees' dugout.

He will be assigned to the Double-A Trenton roster.

Yankees media services