Athletics

Drew's arrival creates platoon at second

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Drew's arrival creates platoon at second

OAKLAND -- The big news came Monday night when the A's announced the acquisition of shortstop Stephen Drew from the Diamondbacks. The surprising news came when Oakland optioned starting second baseman Jemile Weeks to Triple-A Sacramento.

NEWS: A's option Weeks
With an opening at second base, the A's are starting Adam Rosales on Tuesday. Melvin says that Cliff Pennington will likely start there on Wednesday after getting some work in at second base prior to Tuesday's game. The A's feel Pennington is a strong enough defender that he will be able to handle the adjustment. "Right now his opportunity is at second base," Melvin said. "He understands that, and he is going to work as hard as he can to be a very good second baseman." Meanwhile, Stephen Drew arrived around 4:15 p.m. He is in the lineup batting second and starting at shortstop. The A's are counting on Drew to rebound offensively after struggling in Arizona since returning from a right ankle fracture that forced him to miss a total of 137 games. "Our scouts have told us that they haven't seen anything that would suggest the mobility isn't there." Melvin said. "He's 29, our feeling is that he is going through a little bit of a rough period offensively after coming back from that injury in the middle of the season."Drew has played in 40 games this season. He is batting .069 (2-for-29) in his last nine games, and is hitting .193 this season. Drew feels he is making good contact at the plate and the hits will start coming. "I feel good, the outcome is not what I wanted," Drew said. "I was hitting a lot of line outs the first month when I was up there, and you know, that's baseball. It's a humbling game and hopefully this next month they'll fall."Drew will be wearing No. 5 for the A's. Chip Hale previously wore that number. Drew probably didn't have to twist the A's bench coach's arm too hard. They have a good working relationship together. Hale was Drew's Manager in Triple-A, and coached with Melvin when the A's current skipper was the Diamondbacks manager."It's a fresh start for me," Drew said. "Getting to play with Bo-Mel again and Chip, it's going to be a good thing." After making the trade on Monday night, A's assistant general manager David Forst said that Melvin and Hale helped provide information on what kind of player Drew was. Their input and the work of their scouts gave the A's the impression that Drew would be able to help them. "He helps the team all the way around," Melvin said. "I know he's had some struggles this year, at least on the surface looking at the numbers. I've seen this guy be an all-around player."In 2008, Drew batted .291 with 44 doubles, 11 triples, 21 home runs and 67 RBIs in 152 games. He was the named the BBWAA Diamondbacks Player of the Year. "It's weird, you play for a team for seven years and then just everybody heads different directions," Drew said. "I am happy to be here and hope I can help this team win."

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

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AP

A's hire Matt Williams as third base coach

OAKLANDThe Oakland A’s named Matt Williams as third base coach on Bob Melvin’s coaching staff for the 2018 season, the club announced today.

Williams spent five seasons on the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff as first base coach (2010) and third base coach (2011-13, 16) and also managed the Washington Nationals for two seasons.  He was named National League Manager of the Year by the BBWAA in his first season as manager in 2014, guiding the Nationals to a 96-66 record and an NL East title.  He went 83-79 in 2015 for a 179-145 (.552) record in two seasons as manager.

Williams played 17 seasons in the majors with San Francisco (1987-96), Cleveland (1997) and Arizona (1998-2003).  He was a .268 career hitter with 378 home runs and 1218 RBI in 1866 games.  Williams was a five-time All-Star and won four Gold Gloves as a third baseman.

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Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

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AP

Ryon Healy trade has domino effect

The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.

The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.

It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.

It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”

It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.

The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.

A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.

He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.

Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.

Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.

He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.

Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.