Athletics

Billy Beane's decision to deal Sonny Gray an unusual one

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AP

Billy Beane's decision to deal Sonny Gray an unusual one

And with barely an hour to spare and to the surprise of few, Sonny Gray has found his future in New York City.

Gray has been de-Athleticized as expected, arguably the most attractive get of Deadline Day and a piece who can help consolidate the Yankees’ rotation not only for the rest of this season but for 2018 and 2019. Between him and Jaime Garcia, whom they lifted days ago, the Yankees now have reloaded a jittery pitching staff that could conceivably remain in place until decade's end.

And the A’s haul? Need you ask? Prospects, more prospects. Outfielder Dustin Fowler, pitcher James Kaprielian and shortstop Jorge Mateo, to be specific, all go to Oakland for Gray, and the A's even throw in $1.5 million in international bonus pool money.

No A’s fan will be surprised or enthused by this deal unless they are (a) the truest of true believers or (b) baseball fans who love players until they stop being prospects. But being used to and prepared for the A’s M.O. has become the fan base’s default position, as Billy Beane has done this routinely for years.

Gray is unusual because he was moved while under team control for another two years, which is why the Yankees coveted him so assiduously. Most general managers love controllable pitchers (the other notable example of that this year was Jose Quintana, who went from the moribund Chicago White Sox to the surging Cubs).

Moreover, the best Yankee prospects (most notably Clint Frazier) were not part of this deal, so the Yankees came away intact.

And the payoff for the A’s will be deferred while Kaprielian and Fowler recover from injuries, while Mateo was just promoted to AA. In other words, this was not one of Beane’s longer home runs at first glance, but nobody really expects those when Beane is in a seller’s frame of mind.

Which, frankly, is more often than either he or his constituents want to experience. But as long as the A’s plant their flag on the shifting sands of prospects rather than tried-and-true major leaguers, they will remain as they have been – donors, rather than receptors.

But hey, at least they moved Adam Rosales again, so happy days all around.

Report: Pursued by A's, Kurt Suzuki agrees to contract with Nationals

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USATSI

Report: Pursued by A's, Kurt Suzuki agrees to contract with Nationals

It appears the original report on former A's catcher Kurt Suzuki possibly making a return to Oakland will not come to fruition.

According to MLB.com executive reporter Mark Feinsand, the 12-year veteran catcher has agreed to a two-year contract with the Nationals.

The details of the deal, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal:

Suzuki spent two seasons with the Nats, where he slashed .239/.297/.344 with eight home runs and 50 RBI in 122 games in 2012 and 2013. He was acquired from the A's by Washington in 2012.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser originally reported the 35-year-old was approached by the A's about a possible one-year deal next season after he recently was granted free agency by the Braves. 

A's free agent signing anniversary: Designated hitter Billy Butler

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AP

A's free agent signing anniversary: Designated hitter Billy Butler

On this date four years ago, the A's signed free agent designated hitter Billy Butler to a three-year, $30 million contract.

Butler, who was 28 at the time, had spent his first eight MLB seasons with the Kansas City Royals. His best season came in 2012 when he slashed .313/.373/.510 with a career-high 29 home runs and 107 RBI. He was named an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger.

However, Butler's production did not carry over to Oakland. In 2015, he slashed a career-worst .251/.323/.390 with 15 homers and 65 RBI.

The following season, Butler was involved in the now infamous clubhouse fight with teammate Danny Valencia, sustaining a concussion. The A's would release Butler less than a month later.

[RELATED: A's relsease Billy Butler]

It's safe to say the Butler signing did not work out for Oakland, both on and off the field. While it seemed like a reasonable contract at the time, Butler failed to live up to it in his two seasons with the A's.

The biggest takeaway from the signing has to be the importance of character and personality when it comes to clubhouse chemistry. It's actually quite remarkable that the A's went from literally fighting in the clubhouse to having one of the most cohesive groups in the league in a span of just two years.

When it comes to this offseason, Billy Beane, David Forst, and Bob Melvin understand the significance of the team's chemistry and will be careful not to upset it. Talent and production will certainly factor into their decisions, but so will character.

It's also important to note that offensive production doesn't always carry over between home ballparks. The Coliseum can be a nightmare for power hitters and Butler could never wake up.

Of course, the A's figure to focus primarily on pitching this offseason, which could have the opposite effect. Pitchers who have struggled in other ballparks often find success at the Coliseum (see: Trevor Cahill). That should work in the A's favor.

As for Butler, 2016 marks the last time he played in the majors. Following his release from Oakland, he signed with the Yankees but only played in 12 games. Unfortunately, he will always be remembered for that one clubhouse incident in Oakland.