Athletics

Billy Beane: A's won't be looking to trade top prospects

beane-billy-prospects-split.jpg

Billy Beane: A's won't be looking to trade top prospects

Editor's note: The video above is from MLB Winter Meetings.

MESA, Ariz. –- Billy Beane reiterated Saturday his desire to retain the A’s current core of talented prospects and not trade them away for short-term upgrades.

It’s a relevant topic because of how impressive young players such as third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Franklin Barreto and left-hander Sean Manaea have been in exhibitions this spring. It’s also relevant because of Oakland’s recent history of trading top-shelf prospects –- shortstops Addison Russell and Daniel Robertson come to mind -– in “win-now” type moves.

“One of the things we’ve done aggressively when we were competing for a playoff spot is we haven’t been afraid to trade young players,” said Beane, the A’s executive VP of baseball operations. “Now’s the time to probably exercise some discipline, try not to sort of over-reach for something for a short-term fix when you’ve got those guys there. But they’ve been as advertised. And the good thing is they’re all really young. Those are all the guys people ask for when talking about trades.”

[STIGLICH: Lefty Sean Manaea: The A's 'Samoan Randy Johnson']

The standout play of several of those top prospects has been the talk of A’s camp this spring. Only Manaea appears to have a legitimate shot of making the club out of camp, and even he is somewhat of a long shot. Should the 24-year-old Manaea start in the minors, Beane said he won’t hesitate to bring him up if he feels the big lefty is ready. He insisted Manaea wouldn’t be kept in the minors in order to delay his service time clock, which effectively delays the time a player becomes eligible for salary arbitration down the road.

“If you think it’s gonna hurt them, you don’t (promote them),” Beane said. “What doesn’t come into play on my end is the whole contractual thing. … That’s my position. I have internal debate with that. There are plenty of people who push back with me -- ‘we need to do this.’ But if I think he’s one of the best guys and he won’t be harmed by being here, then I wouldn’t have any reservations about using him.”

Obviously, there would have to be a need for Manaea at the Major League level. Right now, the A’s rotation is expected to consist of Sonny Gray, Rich Hill, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn and Chris Bassitt, though health and performance throughout the rest of spring training will influence that. Hill in particular has been shaky through three starts, but the A’s figure to give the 36-year-old veteran plenty of time to find his form.

Among other topics Beane addressed:

-He said some of the tougher roster decisions will go down to the “11th hour,” and that minor-league options will definitely be considered. Infielder Eric Sogard and first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha are two potential “bubble” players who have options remaining, meaning the A’s could send them to the minors without exposing them to the waiver wire.

[RELATED: Will A's roster crunch squeeze out Sogard?]

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters Saturday morning that second baseman Jed Lowrie could see time at shortstop when Marcus Semien isn’t in the lineup. If the A’s are comfortable with Lowrie as a backup shortstop, it could point to Sogard starting the season in the minors.

Outfielder Sam Fuld is another player who could get squeezed out of a roster spot unless an injury surfaces. Because he is out of options, the A’s run the risk of losing Fuld if he doesn’t make the club.

Asked if he’d like to hang on to Fuld for his defensive value, Beane responded: “Yeah, I’ve always liked Sam as a player. The answer to that question will always be yes.”

MLB rumors: A's to call up top prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

MLB rumors: A's to call up top prospect A.J. Puk before Yankees series

The A's aren't messing around.

After taking three of four games from the Astros in a critical home series, Oakland is calling up one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. MLB.com's Martin Gallegos reported Monday morning that the A's are promoting A.J. Puk to the big leagues in time for their series in Oakland against the Yankees.

Puk, the A's No. 2 prospect behind fellow left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo, is expected to pitch out of the bullpen. The former first-round draft pick went 4-1 with a 4.91 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen for Triple-A Las Vegas.

His high ERA can be tricky, though.

The ball flies in Las Vegas and home runs are being hit at an unprecedented rate in the Pacific Coast League this season. Opposing batters hit just .175 off Puk in Triple-A and he struck out 16 batters in 11 innings while only issuing three walks.

[RELATED: A's know they must work to catch star-studded Astros]

Adding the 6-foot-7 lefty should be a big boost to Oakland's bullpen. The A's, who are 1 1/2 games back of an AL wild-card spot, enter Monday with the sixth-best bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.01. The former Florida Gator is yet another weapon to close the door at the end of games. 

Puk, 24, underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2018. He figures to be a starter at the front of the rotation down the line, but for now, he'll look to come out of the 'pen and help push the A's to the playoffs once again.

'Gamer' Chad Pinder's versatility has been vital commodity for A's

'Gamer' Chad Pinder's versatility has been vital commodity for A's

OAKLAND -- There are utility players, there are super-utility players and then there's Chad Pinder.

It's not just that Pinder can play a lot of positions -- he's already played six this year -- it's that he plays them all with near Gold Glove-level proficiency.

"He's a baseball player," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "Wherever we put him, he's done really well. ... Not many guys are able to go out there defensively and play positions they're not used to and do as well as he has."

Pinder hasn't just earned the respect and admiration of his manager. Every single player in the A's clubhouse feels the same way.

"The guy's a gamer," starting pitcher Mike Fiers said. "No matter where you put him, he's going to play hard."

This season, Pinder has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and shortstop, though he has played 34 games at shortstop throughout his career. The 27-year-old has made highlight-reel plays at every one of those positions.

"I just like being out there," Pinder said. "Any opportunity I get to be out on the field, I want to be out there and just play baseball. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make mistakes. It doesn't mean I'm not going to have bad routes in the outfield. It doesn't mean I'm not going to make errors in the infield. But every opportunity out there, you play hard and let the game come to you, not try to do too much. I enjoy it."

Last week against the Astros, Pinder made his first start of the season in center field, and it didn't take long for him to get tested. In the third inning, Houston's Robinson Chirinos ripped a low line drive to shallow center. Pinder immediately broke in, charged at full speed, and made a terrific diving catch.

"Everywhere we put him, he seems to come up with plays like that," Melvin marveled. "I was talking to him before the game and he said the one hard one in center is that line drive right at you. That's the one you really just can't get a good jump on. And the first one that's hit to him is a line drive right in front of him and he gets a great jump and makes a great play."

To Pinder, his ability to make those plays flows from the way he plays the game.

 "You just try to anticipate things. You just play aggressive and, if you make mistakes, at least you do it playing aggressively."

Pinder's mistakes certainly have been few and far between. In 93 games this season, he only has committed three errors. Still, he knows he has room for improvement, especially playing the infield positions.

"Shortstop is definitely the toughest position," Pinder revealed. "For me this year, of the positions that I've played, it's been second base. Anywhere in the outfield, I feel pretty comfortable. It's just about getting reps. When I find out that I'm playing a certain position, I get the reps there."

[RELATED: A's remain focused on dethroning Astros after series win]

Pinder's offensive numbers have been solid as well, with a .250/.295/.442 slash line, 11 home runs, 17 doubles, and 39 RBI in limited action. He has proven more than capable of being an everyday player -- that opportunity likely still will come -- but for now, his value lies in his incredible versatility.