Athletics

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

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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.

Pedro Martinez lazily rips Mike Fiers for his role in Astros' scandal

Pedro Martinez lazily rips Mike Fiers for his role in Astros' scandal

Pedro Martinez has joined Jessica Mendoza on the wrong side of history

The Hall of Fame pitcher recently spoke out on A's pitcher Mike Fiers, putting his name next to accusations of the Houston Astros electronically stealing signs in the 2017 season. 

“If he was to do it when he was playing for the Houston Astros, I would say Mike Fiers has guts,” Martinez told WEEI on Saturday. “But to go and do it after you leave the Houston Astros because they don’t have you anymore, that doesn’t show me anything. You’re just a bad teammate.”

A reminder to all: Blaming the whistleblower is the opposite of bold. It's the essence of weakness. 

In a November report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich, Fiers -- who joined the A's halfway through the 2018 season -- was the first player to confirm the Astros used technology to steal signs. 

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said

Four people with the Astros told The Athletic the team stole signs during home games in real-time with the aid of a camera positioned in the outfield. Fiers was the only one to put his name next to his words. That's bold. That's courage. 

Martinez's issue is with Fiers publicly telling what went on behind the scenes and waiting two years to do so. This isn't a new take, but one which many are now using against Fiers, especially those who played baseball. 

“Whatever happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse, and Fiers broke the rules,” Martinez said. “I agree with cleaning up the game. I agree that the fact that the Commissioner is taking a hard hand on this, but at the same time players should not be the ones dropping the whistleblower.

“If you have integrity, you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something.

"But if you leave Houston, and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left, and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus, I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because we did have that rule.”

It's not that simple, though. Fiers said many within the Astros believed other teams already were electronically stealing signs, which made them feel less guilty about doing so. He then told his new teams -- the Detroit Tigers and A's -- in 2018 about what was going on. Fiers never says in The Athletic article if he went to the front office or coaches about the scandal. 

[RELATED: Red Sox star understands why Fiers spoke up about Astros]

Another piece to the puzzle is Fiers struggled in 2017. He went 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA in 29 appearances and was left off the postseason roster. How would it have looked if a struggling player made complaints about his own team and brought forth such serious allegations? Probably not very good. 

Whether it be a scandal like the one the Astros constructed -- and received historic punishments for -- or wrongdoing in general, guilt weighs on you. Just because a person doesn't come forward right away, it doesn't mean they didn't understand the situation was wrong. The gravity of it all can be more understood over time, as well. 

This is a lazy argument that we're sure to hear again. It needs to be put to rest, but don't expect that to happen. 

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

Baseball America releases new top 10 A's prospects for 2020 MLB season

The A's top three prospects virtually are set in stone. Wherever you look, you likely will see the same three names in the same order: Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk and Sean Murphy. 

That's a pretty talented trio right there. It's the same top three that led off Baseball America's list of top A's prospects going into the 2019 season. The same goes for 2020

Luzardo and Puk are regarded as two of the best left-handed pitching prospects in all of baseball. With a high-90s fastball and nasty changeup, Luzardo has all the ingredients to one day be a perennial Cy Young candidate. Puk's fastball-slider combination has him right up there with Luzardo, too. 

Murphy is expected to make a big impact on the A's this upcoming season, and the catcher is regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the game. The 25-year-old made his MLB debut last year and hit four homers in limited time, too. 

The real change for the A's, however, is at No. 4. Going into last season, Baseball America had a Heisman Trophy winner as Oakland's fourth-best prospect. That's right, we're talking about Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyle Murray. 

While Murray claims he still believes he can play both sports in a calendar year, and the A's still own his baseball rights, it's highly unlikely the elusive QB ever wears an A's jersey. So, who's the A's new No. 4 prospect? Cal product Daulton Jefferies made a huge leap in the rankings. 

Jefferies, 24, entered 2019 as the A's No. 18 prospect on Baseball America's top-30 team rankings. The low ranking wasn't due to his talent, though. It was all because of injury risks. Jefferies missed a chunk of his junior year at Cal with a shoulder injury and then had Tommy John surgery in late April 2017. 

Prior to the 2019 season, Jefferies had only pitched 20 1/3 innings since being drafted by the A's with the 37th pick overall in 2016. He was healthy last year and showed his potential that always has intrigued front offices. The 6-foot right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA and had 93 strikeouts to only five walks in 79 innings pitched between Advanced Class A and Double-A. 

[RELATED: A's Reed hopes to reunite with Florida teammate Puk in '20]

Jefferies is expected to start the season in Triple-A Las Vegas. He throws everything for strikes and sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. The A's will be safe with his workload, but don't be surprised if the former Cal Bear makes it to Oakland this season. 

There's no doubt the A's have one of the best young trios in Luzardo, Puk and Murphy. Don't forget about Daulton, though -- even if he does spell his name wrong.