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.”
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.”