New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event


New Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna takes jab at A's during media event

While expressing his happiness to be with his new team, Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna took a swipe at the A’s during a media function in St. Louis on Sunday.

Ozuna’s name, you’ll remember, swirled in trade rumors earlier this offseason that he might be dealt from the Miami Marlins to Oakland. Instead, the two-time All-Star was traded to St. Louis, making him one of several big-name players Miami has shipped off as it looks to slash payroll.

While attending the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event to preview this season, Ozuna was asked what it was like being dealt to a team that’s more focused on winning right away as opposed to the rebuilding Marlins.

“I feel happy about that,” Ozuna responded. “First thing when I heard they were trying to trade me to the Oakland A’s, I say … (long pause) Well, I say ‘God, please leave me over here.’ Then I heard they trade me to the Cardinals, I say ‘OK, thanks.’”


Well, it’s not the first time such an insult has been hurled the A’s way, whether directly or indirectly. Last winter, it came out that Matt Holliday — who spent part of 2009 with Oakland — had a no-trade clause included in his contract with the Yankees that prohibited him from being traded only to the A’s.

Is it surprising to hear Ozuna volunteer his thoughts about the A’s in a public forum? Perhaps.

Is it a shock that he’d feel that way in the first place? Definitely not.

It’s no secret the A’s reputation is one of a team that’s always looking to trade its best veteran players rather than spend the money to sign them long term. It’s also common knowledge that they play in an outdated ballpark that’s considered the worst in the majors.

No question, those are the dominant thoughts of players on the other 29 teams when they think of the A’s. And there’s no quick fix to that. National perception is tough to alter.

“Why doesn’t ownership just start spending more money on payroll?” you might ask. “That’s the best way to change perception.”

No arguments there, but we know from the past that isn’t going to happen. Clearly, majority owner John Fisher isn’t going to spend more freely on payroll — especially with the A’s being cut off from MLB’s revenue sharing system — unless he sees the potential for other forms of revenue to stream in.

It all points back to the critical need for the A’s to identify a ballpark site and begin construction on a new home. That will send a message around the majors that a plan is in motion, that better days are ahead.

Until then, the A’s can expect to absorb the occasional jab like that delivered by Ozuna. On the bright side for Oakland fans, they might have just identified Public Enemy No. 2, a player who can slot in right behind Holliday as their favorite opponent to vilify.

A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?


A's, Khris Davis avoid arbitration, but is this a long-term union?

The A’s took care of a big piece of business with their top run producer, signing slugger Khris Davis to a one-year contract Wednesday and avoiding arbitration.

FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the sides settled on a $10.5 million salary. That’s more than double the $5 million Davis made last season in his first trip through the arbitration process, but a huge raise was expected after Davis put up more monster numbers in his second year with Oakland.

His 43 home runs in 2017 ranked second in the American League and he was third in RBI with 110. Consider that Davis is the only major leaguer to crack the 40-homer mark in each of the past two seasons, and only Giancarlo Stanton has more total homers during that span (86 to Davis’ 85).

That obviously makes the 30-year-old Davis a valuable commodity.

“Back to back 40-homer years in this ballpark. You guys don’t talk about it enough,” A’s executive VP of baseball operations Billy Beane said in October. “When we acquired him (in a trade from Milwaukee) we knew we got a guy with a lot of power. I think we were thinking a 30-homer guy. The fact he’s gone 40 back-to-back is pretty amazing. He fits in perfectly here. I think having that big bat that Khris brings helps guys like (Matt) Olson and (Matt) Chapman.”

So it’s clear the A’s value Davis, and that’s why he hasn’t been traded thus far, as many around the game speculated he might be this winter. But where do things go moving forward?

He’ll be eligible for arbitration one more time next winter before he’s able to test free agency heading into the 2020 season. If you’re an A’s fan, you know where this is going. If July hits and the A’s are floundering in the standings, Davis no doubt will be a trade candidate. He’d have appeal as a proven slugger who would remain under team control for 2019.

But Davis is a rare breed. He loves playing in Oakland and doesn’t hide that fact. The pitcher-friendly Coliseum has done nothing to suppress his power. In fact, he’s thrived. His 26 home runs at the Coliseum in 2017 fell one short of Jason Giambi’s Oakland record for homers by a home player.

It would seem he’d be open to a long-term extension, and the sides reportedly have held past discussions about one. The A’s have designs on signing some of their younger core players to extensions. But you’d have to rank it as a surprise were they to actually complete an extension with Davis, given the money he would command.

More than likely, Beane and his staff will evaluate the team through the first half of the upcoming season, weigh the pros and cons of dealing him, and if he stays, enter through this arbitration process again next winter, knowing that he’ll command even more bucks on another one-year deal.

An ‘X’ factor is how Davis adjusts to his shift from left field to designated hitter. He told NBC Sports California in November that he prefers the outfield but will fill whatever role is best for the team.

The feeling here is that he’ll put up the same numbers that fans have grown accustomed to, and the ball will be in the A’s court as to how long he remains in green and gold.

Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark


Kaval puts Coliseum, Howard Terminal back in play for A's new ballpark

OAKLAND — The A’s moved into some plush new office space this week at Jack London Square, with hallways wide enough to ride a skateboard through, as one team executive already discovered.

That ever-elusive search for a new ballpark site?

Still TBA.

After guiding reporters through a tour of his team’s 40,000-square foot new office Tuesday, A’s president Dave Kaval made his first public comments on the ballpark topic since the Peralta Community College District pulled the plug on his plans to build a stadium near Laney College.

“I just want to re-emphasize we’re 100 percent committed to Oakland and a location for a privately financed ballpark here,” Kaval said.

“We’ve identified three final locations. We had a preferred location, a lot of thought went into that. We just want to make sure before we make another announcement that we’re very thoughtful about how we approach it.”

Those three locations were Peralta, which seems off the table unless Laney College leaders have a change of heart and the sides re-negotiate; the A’s current home at the Coliseum complex; and Howard Terminal, which is in clear view from the team’s new second-floor office windows at 55 Harrison St.

The A’s chose this site for their offices while originally planning their ballpark at Peralta, so the proximity to Howard Terminal is not an indication that the A’s are now leaning toward that site.

But Howard Terminal and the Coliseum are back in play, Kaval confirmed, though the fact the A’s bypassed both during the original search demonstrates that they feel each has serious drawbacks. Howard Terminal is the preferred site of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, but includes headaches having to do with infrastructure needs and environmental clean-ups. The Coliseum would provide the quickest route to completion, but the A’s reportedly have questions about whether the site can generate enough revenue to build a new venue privately.

Whatever direction the search takes, Kaval believes the A’s new executive offices are an important step in the process. The team spent between $4 and $5 million, and the massive space includes an entryway that showcases the nine World Series championship trophies in franchise history, a full gym and a batting cage for employees to enjoy.

There’s also memorabilia from throughout A’s history at every corner, including the white cleats first introduced by Charlie Finley in 1967 and the team’s original scouting report on Reggie Jackson.

Kaval compared the new-age office to those found in Silicon Valley, because he says the A’s will compete with Silicon Valley to recruit the Bay Area’s top business minds. He’s hopeful the new space also helps woo potential sponsors.

“It shows the type of environment we want to create with a new ballpark,” Kaval said, “celebrating our past, having a collaborative work environment. When people see this, they can see the vision we have for a new ballpark. It’s almost like a sampler.”

A’s chief operating officer Chris Giles rode a skateboard Monday down a long hall that connects different departments. Troy Smith, the A’s vice president of marketing, said the new office “really changes the way you view your job. It’s almost like having a brand new job.”

Though the A’s are dedicating plenty of resources to build a new office culture, they’re not as likely to spend aggressively from a baseball standpoint, at least not this season.

Factoring in guaranteed contracts, estimated salaries for arbitration players via, and estimated salaries for pre-arbitration players via Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the A’s current 2018 payroll sits at roughly $56.75 million.

It’s likely that the Opening Day payroll won’t crack $70 million, which would be well below the roughly $81 million of 2017. But perhaps that’s not a shock. The A’s are still likely a season away, at least, from being a true contender, and they’re building around a core of young players who are making near the major league minimum.

The good news for fans is that Kaval says he doesn’t envision the failed Peralta ballpark plan interrupting the A’s grand vision from a roster standpoint. That would suggest Oakland still plans to sign some of those young core players to long-term extensions, which front office officials have stated as a goal.