Athletics

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.

Re-examining Howard Terminal, Coliseum as potential A's ballpark sites

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AP

Re-examining Howard Terminal, Coliseum as potential A's ballpark sites

Just when the A’s finally seemed to have a direction mapped out for a new ballpark, they find themselves right back at the drawing board.

With the Peralta Community College District board halting negotiations for the A’s to build near Laney College, it figures to bring other previously considered locations around Oakland back into play. Specifically, the A’s were interested in Howard Terminal and the Coliseum site itself as potential spots to build a ballpark before settling on Peralta.

For those who need a refresher on the pros and cons of those two sites, here’s a recap:

Howard Terminal:
This site has been knocked around as a possibility for many years and always created the most buzz of any spot in Oakland. It’s located right on the waterfront at the Port of Oakland, and many see it having similar potential to what the Giants have with AT&T Park. It’s the preferred site of Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf and it’s very close to the attractions of Jack London Square. Former A’s managing partner Lew Wolff flat-out discarded Howard Terminal as a consideration, citing the extensive environmental cleanup efforts and infrastructure improvements needed. But Wolff is out of the picture now, and A’s majority owner John Fisher was known to be much more keen on the site.

The drawbacks? There are plenty. The nearest BART station is a full mile away, requiring a 20-25 minute walk to where a ballpark would be. There’s thought that a new BART station would need to be built for that reason. Pedestrian bridges would likely need to be built to get fans across railroad tracks. The environmental issue is a major one. And that area along the water is protected by California tidelands trust regulations, meaning the A’s would need to seek state approval to build at Howard Terminal.

“You have to weigh, is it worth the time, effort, political opposition that might come up to pursue that type of effort?” A’s president Dave Kaval said on the A’s Insider Podcast in February. “The site is so iconic that we’ve been keeping it in the mix because, wow, it could just be something that is a game changer.”

Oakland Coliseum:
It’s the most convenient site on which to build, it would take the shortest amount of time and there is much less red tape to clear away before putting a shovel in the ground. But the Coliseum site also is the one that A’s officials seem least fired up about. It’s far away from downtown, meaning the “ballpark village” and urban vibrancy that Kaval talks about would have to be built up from scratch. But the Warriors are moving to San Francisco and the Raiders plan to bolt for Las Vegas, so in a few years the A’s could have the Coliseum complex to themselves.

One of the site’s best drawing cards is its accessibility. There’s a BART station right there, the freeway is right there and there’s tons of parking space for the tailgating that so many fans hold sacred. However, the Raiders are sticking around for at least two more football seasons, possibly three if their Las Vegas stadium isn’t ready for 2020. That makes things a bit complicated, but a likely plan would have the A’s building a new ballpark next door while both teams could continue playing in the old venue.

“I think the Coliseum is probably the hardest (location) to create kind of an urban village,” Kaval said in February. “But I think it’s possible.”