Athletics

Beane explains Melvin's extension: 'We couldn’t have a better man' as manager

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AP

Beane explains Melvin's extension: 'We couldn’t have a better man' as manager

ARLINGTON, Texas — As the A’s continue their youth movement on the field, they feel their current man in the dugout is the right guy to lead that charge. Manager Bob Melvin was given a one-year extension Thursday that takes his contract through the 2019 season. That means he’ll get the chance to continue guiding a young core that’s generated some optimism with a strong September.

“We couldn’t have a better man for the position than Bob,” said Billy Beane, the A’s executive V.P. of baseball operations. “He comes to the park everyday with the same mindset, no matter who he’s got on the roster. He finds a way to be prepared.”

It’s been a rough go for the A’s since a three-year run of postseason appearances from 2012-14. They’ll need to sweep the Rangers in Arlington in a season-ending four-game series that began Thursday night to avoid a third consecutive last-place finish.

Along the way, their roster constantly has been in flux. The trade of four All-Stars before the 2015 season, including third baseman Josh Donaldson, was a drastic makeover. Each season since then has brought the trade of numerous veterans at the July deadline as the team has faded from contention.

However, a group of highly regarded position-player prospects has arrived at different points over the past season-and-a-half, including designated hitter Ryon Healy, third baseman Matt Chapman, first baseman Matt Olson and utility man Chad Pinder. That group has won together in the minors and is showing signs of being a core that the A’s can build around moving forward.

Since being hired in June 2011 to replace Bob Geren, Melvin has been awarded a three-year extension and a pair of two-year extensions prior to this. His current deal was set to expire after next season, and extending him removes that as a potential storyline as the year unfolds.

“I appreciate it from (principal owner) John (Fisher) all the way to Billy and (GM) David (Forst),” Melvin said. “Everybody for the fact that they have the faith in me to keep me around for another year.”

Beane, Forst and Melvin are all on contracts that run through 2019. The logical expectation is that the A’s can finally start making an upward climb in the American League West standings.

“We’ve had a little down period here after a three-year upswing,” Melvin said. “We’re moving in the right direction, definitely. I don’t want to put a number on what we expect next year. Certainly there will be some moves this offseason to try to enhance the roster as well. But I’m really excited about the potential we have here.”

Beane said he’s been encouraged by the play of the youngsters the A’s have promoted, and they “look forward to further integrating young players over the next year. We’ve got a number of kids knocking on the door.”

Melvin is one of just seven managers in history to win Manager of the Year awards in both leagues. He did so in 2007 with Arizona and the A’s in 2012.

A's would love to see Japanese star Ohtani land in National League

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AP

A's would love to see Japanese star Ohtani land in National League

Update: Shohei Ohtani agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday morning 

The A’s only made a cameo appearance in the Shohei Ohtani chase, but they’ve got plenty of interest in where the young Japanese star lands.

Three of Oakland’s American League West rivals are among the final seven teams in the running to sign Ohtani — the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Ohtani supposedly prefers the West Coast, and the Mariners acquired some extra international bonus pool money Thursday which could help sweeten their offer for him.

A’s general manager David Forst understandably is rooting hard for Ohtani to sign somewhere outside of the AL West.

“We’re watching with curiosity just like you guys are, hoping he ends up (in the National League) as opposed to somebody we face 19 times a year,” Forst said on a media conference call Thursday.

The A’s were among the majority of major league teams that spent time putting together a detailed presentation to pitch their team to Ohtani, as was requested by the player’s representatives. Forst summed up the A’s pursuit succinctly:

“We were involved for a couple days until we were told we weren’t.”

That was the case for all interested clubs outside of the lucky seven. So the A’s now shift their focus to the upcoming winter meetings, which get started Monday and run for four days at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Topping the A’s agenda is acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Forst said he’s engaged in trade dialogue regarding outfielders but wasn’t predicting whether a deal gets done in Orlando.

“There are things we’ve been working on and maybe they’ve been somewhat held up by what’s going on,” Forst said. “I can’t tell you we’ll walk out of the Swan and Dolphin with an outfielder, but it’s something we’ve looked into.”

The delays Forst referred to are the unresolved situations regarding Giancarlo Stanton and Ohtani. There’s a sentiment that once those two players land somewhere, it will pave the way for more transactions to start happening in what’s so far been a slow offseason of activity around the majors.

An informed source indicated the A’s are indeed eyeing Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who they’ve been linked to in previous reports. But St. Louis is competing with the Giants and perhaps the Dodgers to complete a trade with the Marlins for Stanton. Should the Cardinals get Stanton, it stands to reason they’d be more willing to deal Piscotty, who is under contract for the next five seasons at a very affordable $29.5 million.

The A’s plan to shift Khris Davis from left field to predominantly a DH role, and Forst said Oakland ideally would like someone who can play all three outfield spots. Piscotty happens to fit that bill, though he’s not their only option.

A lefty reliever is the other main item on the A’s wish list, though they’re also monitoring the starting pitching market.

On Thursday, they announced their two-year $10 million deal with one-time Giant reliever Yusmeiro Petit. He’s the second right-hander Oakland has added to the bullpen, joining Emilio Pagan, and Petit’s versatility was a big reason the A’s were interested in the 33-year-old.

“When you have a young starting staff and guys that have developing to do, (helping) them in the bullpen is a priority,” Forst said. “His ability to go multiple innings, go back-to-back days, spot start, all the things he’s done are incredibly valuable to us.”

To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated for assignment second baseman Joey Wendle, who saw his opportunities decrease last season with the emergence of Chad Pinder and the top prospect status of Franklin Barreto.

Forst declined to address Wednesday’s news that the A’s negotiations to build a ballpark near Laney College fell through, other than to say the organization was “surprised.”

“We’re regrouping and figuring out the next step.”

Mariners make first big offseason move, acquire two-time All-Star Dee Gordon

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USATSI

Mariners make first big offseason move, acquire two-time All-Star Dee Gordon

MIAMI — Miami second baseman Dee Gordon has been traded to the Seattle Mariners for three prospects in a deal that marks the start of the Marlins' latest payroll purge, this time under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The Marlins want to cut their payroll by more than 20 percent to $90 million or less, which is why NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton is also on the trading block.

Seattle has eight-time All-Star Robinson Cano at second base and is expected to move Gordon to center field. While Gordon has never played center in the majors, the Mariners believe he can make the transition and fill perhaps the biggest remaining need among their position players.

Miami acquired right-hander Nick Neidert, the Mariners' No. 2 prospect, along with infielder Chris Torres and right-hander Robert Dugger. Seattle gets international signing bonus pool allotment, boosting the amount it can offer Japanese star pitcher and outfielder Shohei Ohtani.