Athletics

Report: Yankees targeted Bob Melvin as potential manager

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USATSI

Report: Yankees targeted Bob Melvin as potential manager

As the New York Yankees cast their net to find their next manager, they apparently had a legitimate interest in A’s skipper Bob Melvin.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted that New York reached out to the A’s about interviewing Melvin for their vacancy but that Oakland denied the request. A team must be granted permission to interview any manager or coach who’s currently under contract with another team, and Melvin received a contract extension in September that will keep him in the A’s dugout through the 2019 season.

Though nothing obviously will happen on this front, it does bring up an interesting point: Three consecutive last-place finishes for the A’s, and a combined 212-274 record since the start of 2015, haven’t damaged Melvin’s reputation in the eyes of those around the major leagues.

He’s always been highly respected by not only his players but his peers for his baseball acumen, leadership and communication skills. Surely there’s a view around the bigs that the A’s struggles in recent seasons are due, in part at least, to all of the roster turnover that began following the Wild Card season of 2014.

A’s general manager David Forst, currently in Orlando, Fla., for the annual GM meetings, declined any comment on Rosenthal’s report.

Would Melvin have been interested in the New York job?

It stands to reason he would have. Who wouldn’t be?

Not only do the Yankees have a capability, and willingness, to spend that dwarfs that of the A’s, but in recent years they’ve also built one of the game’s deepest farm systems from which to draw on.

Melvin spent a tiny slice of his final big league season in 1994 with the Yankees. And at the time he was hired as the A’s manager in 2011, he and his family were living in Manhattan, so there’s a level of comfort for him on the East Coast.

Understand that Melvin’s one-year extension was no long-term commitment from the A’s, more a move to avoid him managing as a lame duck in 2018 had that remained the final year of his contract (though it’s worth nothing that neither Forst nor executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane are signed past 2019 either).

So it’s easy to envision that the Yankees job would have been attractive to Melvin. However, he’s also a Palo Alto native who grew up in the Bay Area and wears his passion for the A’s franchise on his sleeve.

And Melvin doesn’t hide his enthusiasm for the A’s young crop of talent that began establishing itself this past season and that looks to be the backbone of the franchise moving forward.

The main takeaway here: Though the A’s have scuffled big-time in the standings over the past three years, their manager remains quite the well-regarded and sought-after figure, at least in the eyes of one very high-profile franchise.

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.