Athletics

Melvin's longevity with A's a remarkable feat in Billy Beane Era

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AP

Melvin's longevity with A's a remarkable feat in Billy Beane Era

Bob Melvin’s contract extension through 2019 with Oakland wasn’t nearly so much a surprise as the fact that he’s been the Athletics' manager as long as he has.
 
The A’s, after all, have been known for their roster volatility for years, a strategy that has hit as often as it has failed but has almost always been more frustrating than enervating.
 
But managers? Remarkably stable, even in the Billy Beane era, which will be precisely 20 years long in 19 days. Do send a card.

[RELATED: Beane explains Melvin's extension: 'We couldn’t have a better man' as manager]
 
The A’s have had but four managers – Art Howe, who was worked over in Beane’s most volatile period; Ken Macha, whose own volatility got him fired and rehired in the same managerial cycle; Bob Geren, Beane's close personal friend whose time matched a particularly stultifying period in franchise history; and Melvin, whose first three full seasons look very little like his last three.
 
But the A’s are acknowledging here that the team’s latest cratering is really roster-based, and that Melvin is better suited to resuscitate this franchise as it leans into its new stadium phase than anyone else either in or outside the organization.
 
Indeed, he is 64 games away from passing Howe for third in games managed with this team, and is three years away from passing Tony La Russa for second. Barring continued stagnation, political intrigues or some other catastrophe, he is likely to do so.
 
But he is under the same make-this-good-when-the-ballpark-opens pressure that general manager David Forst and even Beane himself are under. The A’s are playing not only for their place in the American League and the hearts of a city who is losing its two other teams, but for the success of a billion-dollar real estate venture.
 
Now guess which of those matters most owner John Fisher. 

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.