Ryon Healy

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.

A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players

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USATSI

A's trade Ryon Healy to Mariners for two players

The rumors were indeed true. Ryon Healy was on the trade block.

And now Healy has been traded...to the Mariners.

The two teams announced the trade Wednesday evening.

Oakland will receive right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan and shortstop Alexander Campos.

Healy burst on to the scene in 2016 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. This past season, he finished second on the A's with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. But he had become the odd man out in the A's lineup with Matt Olson and Matt Chapman solidifying the corner infield spots.

The 25-year-old is familiar with the Pacific Northwest as he attended the University of Oregon.

Pagan, 26, made his major league debut during the 2017 season. In 34 relief appearances with the Mariners, he posted a 3.22 ERA and struck out 56 batters in 50.1 innings. Against the A's, Pagan allowed one run in 5.1 innings over three outings. A native of South Carolina, Pagan was drafted by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

Campos appears to be the prize of the trade, though he's a bit further away from reaching the major leagues. Just 17 years old, Campos signed out of Venezuela in 2016 and made his professional debut this past season. In 59 games for the Mariners' Domincan Summer League team, Campos hit .290/.413/.367 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBI.

MLB Pipeline ranked Campos as Seattle's No. 15 prospect.

Analysis: Odds of A's trading for Miami's Yelich or Ozuna

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USATSI

Analysis: Odds of A's trading for Miami's Yelich or Ozuna

Any time you hear of the A’s entering what looks to be a “quiet” offseason, be suspicious.

Rarely do they sit on their hands and do nothing. Even after an encouraging finish to the 2017 season, with the emergence of several prospects suggesting the team might lay low this winter and stay the course, there are signs that they could be open for serious business.

A report Wednesday from the San Francisco Chronicle suggested the A’s have interest in two of the Miami Marlins’ stud outfielders — Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. The idea of acquiring either fuels the growing speculation that Oakland is considering trading Ryon Healy, which would allow Khris Davis to slide into the regular DH spot and make room to add a stronger defensive corner outfielder.

The power-hitting Ozuna, who turns 27 on Sunday, is a two-time All-Star who won a Gold Glove in left field this past season, and he’s under team control for two more seasons via arbitration. Yelich is under contract for the next four years at $43.25 million (plus a club option for 2022), a relative steal for a player who slashed .290/.373/.460 combined over the past two seasons and turns just 26 next month.

Given their lean payroll commitments right now, the A’s could absorb the contract of either. More importantly, both are young enough — and cost-controllable enough moving forward — to fit into Oakland’s current rebuilding plan.

So it all makes sense in theory. In reality, the odds of the A’s acquiring Yelich or Ozuna appear steep.

It’s no secret the Marlins are looking to shed salary and restock their farm system under new ownership. The factors that would make either player appeal to the A’s — youth and affordability — also make them appealing to many clubs who have ambitions for contending in 2018 and boast deep farm systems from which to deal. The competition will be fierce. Miami can ask for the moon and no doubt will.

This is where the A’s have to exercise judgement; weigh the pros and cons of a blockbuster deal to land either Ozuna or Yelich. The risk isn’t financial. It comes in the caliber of prospects Oakland would have to fork over. It’s hard to imagine the A’s parting with Matt Chapman, Matt Olson or other foundation pieces who have already shown they are major league contributors (with Healy an exception).

It stands to reason that in any potential deal, Miami would want a chunk of Oakland’s high-end pitching talent in the farm system. And the feeling here is that the A’s shouldn’t part with 6-foot-7 lefty A.J. Puk, their top pitching prospect. They better think long and hard before dealing other highly touted hurlers such as Logan Shore and Grant Holmes too.

The A’s have worked diligently in recent years to acquire the top arms in their farm system, and the past two seasons have shown just how fragile Oakland’s pitching depth can be due to injuries. As things stand in the organization, they can afford to part with some of their top position-player prospects more than their best young pitchers.

But it comes down to what the Marlins demand in return. Either of Miami’s terrific young outfielders would look great in green and gold. But the cost will be huge.

And if the A’s deem the price tag too high, they will pass. Given the encouraging direction they’re going with their current group, maintaining the status quo isn’t such a bad “Plan B” anyway.