Athletics

A's Buddy Reed hopes to reunite with Florida teammate A.J. Puk in 2020

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AP

A's Buddy Reed hopes to reunite with Florida teammate A.J. Puk in 2020

The player to be named later's name was Buddy Reed. The moment the A's acquired the outfield prospect from the Padres in a Jurickson Profar trade, I was told A's fans were going to love him.

That was quickly justified.

"I'm a pretty vibrant person," Reed told NBC Sports California. "I feed off other people's energy and I like others to feed off my energy. For the most part, I try and I like to stay as positive as possible."

That energy was apparent the moment he got the call from Padres general manager A.J. Preller that he would be joining the same organization as his roommate and former Florida Gator teammate A.J. Puk.

Reed and the A's No. 2 prospect have been living together since the two were drafted in 2016.

"A.J. was working out and I was trying to wait until he got home, but I just was like 'Yo, I got traded,' and we just started screaming and yelling."

The two reminisced about going to school together and Reed began to think about watching Puk blossom in his own journey.

"To be put on the same team as him and to see him thrive as he did coming off of Tommy John and then to get to the big leagues so fast -- it was really cool to see that and it's going to be even cooler, hopefully, if the cards are right -- to play with him and join him in an outfield position in the major leagues," Reed said.

Reed's transition to a new club won't have the typical "new kid on the first day of school" feeling. He's been facing the A's minor league teams for years.

While with Double-A Amarillo, he saw members of the A's organization more often than you might think. The Texas League possesses only eight teams so with the matchups being plentiful, he found himself facing the Midland Rockhounds often and developed friendships rapidly.

"Just from playing against the A's at pretty much every level and meeting the guys, seeing those over and over again, I definitely feel like I'm going to blend well with the group of guys I come to meet," Reed said.

He also hopes he repeats some of the same numbers he put up in the minors, specifically during his High-A run.

With the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2018, the outfielder slashed .324/.371/.549 with 102 hits and 12 home runs with a .921 OPS. 

During his time with the Sod Poodles last season, Reed didn't put up the numbers at the plate he would have liked, but his offseason training in Tampa, Fla. has him looking forward to 2020.

"Both sides of the ball are really important," Reed said. "I always continue my outfield work and then from a hitting standpoint, it's getting back to where I was when I was in High-A -- one of my best years in the minors. Obviously I was very fortunate enough to go to the Future's Game and things like that -- that was all a credit to what I was doing on both sides of the ball -- hitting, stealing bases, making plays in the outfield and throwing guys out."

In 121 games in Double-A last season, Reed's .228/.310/.388 numbers show what he needs to target for improvements. 

He's been focusing on the video element present time baseball technology has gifted us in order to get back to those High-A numbers. It sounds easier said than done, but he wants to keep his approach as simple as possible.

"When your brain starts going off on all different things, it's really difficult to bring it back to center," Reed said.

"I just want to be productive -- whether it's a productive out or a productive guy in the box, on offense -- I wanna show what I can do so defense as well."

MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo complimented Reed's glove capabilities, telling NBC Sports California he's "one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball."

Now that Reed will be a member of the Green and Gold, he'll have plenty of talented guys to learn from on every part of the game. He currently trains at the same facility in Tampa as A's center fielder Ramón Laureano and mentioned him a few times who he looks forward to hopefully playing alongside.

And of course, the corner infielders.

"Matt Chapman and Matt Olson," Reed quickly said. "Just how they go about things hitting-wise because they're obviously really good offensively and produce a lot for the A's as well as defensively. Chapman is probably one of the best third basemen in the league so I think it would be interesting to watch those guys."

He would obviously love to be reunited with Puk, but this time, on a big-league field.

Reed knows pitchers Brian Howard and Parker Dunshee from his time in the minors as well who can keep him company until that dream takes place. Reed also knows former A's minor leaguer Richie Martin who lives with him and Puk at the moment if he needed any additional info on the A's.

"It's a pretty interesting little thing we have going on," Reed quipped.

I asked Reed what A's fans need to know about the new guy coming to the organization.

[RELATED: Why A's fans will love Buddy Reed]

"They're going to get a high-character, respectable person that just loves to be around other people and enjoys the game of baseball," Reed said.

"I'd like to thank the Padres for drafting me and giving me the opportunity to play at the next level. For me, with the A's, it's like a fresh start."

And he has some incentives to get on his good side.

"I mean, for one thing, as an A's fan, they should know I love candy," Reed said. "I wouldn't shy away from anyone bringing me candy during spring training ... you know what I'm saying?"

Scott Boras discusses Matt Chapman's contract status, A's philosophy

Scott Boras discusses Matt Chapman's contract status, A's philosophy

A’s third baseman Matt Chapman is really good at baseball. That could complicate things down the line.

The two-time Platinum Glove Award winner and 2019 All-Star is one of the best third basemen in the game, and according to his agent, Scott Boras, he should be treated as such.

Boras spoke to The Athletic’s Alex Coffey about how MLB's shortened 60-game season could pertain to Chapman and his upcoming arbitration process. If this were a normal 162-game year, the A's star could have been paid anywhere from $10-12 million via arbitration or with an agreement with the team.

But Chapman, playing on a minimum contract, just has adjusted season salary of $230,926, according to Spotrac. 

Yes, the guy who led all of baseball with 32 Defensive Runs Saved last season is making that little. This is the same guy who carries a .920 OPS this season after accumulating 8.3 WAR in 2018 and 2019.

It’s no secret he wants to get paid, and it’s even less of a secret he needs to get paid.

“Matt’s a star player,” Boras told Coffey. “He’s a franchise player. The right of arbitration means more to franchise players than anybody, no doubt.”

Boras also made it a point to list other prominent third basemen in the league. And there are plenty. Colorado Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado, a childhood friend of Chapman, has an adjusted salary of almost $13 million this year. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It’s the same story for the Kris Bryants and Alex Bregmans of the world, who will be making eight figures per year under their current contracts.

The A’s have spoken for years about building a new stadium, which would then allow the team to spend more money on their players. But Boras believes the stadium itself is secondary to Chapman.

“You build the stadium,” he said, “and then it’s ready to start. But you forgot to plant the grass. So you build the stadium, it’s beautiful, but you look at the field and you forgot to plant the grass. The grass is the players. Now you’ve got a beautiful stadium and you’ve got no grass. No one wants to go watch it. The players have to precede the stadium. That’s the rule.”

[RELATED: Chapman believes the defensive game deserves more respect]

Chapman will be a free agent after the 2023 season, which might seem far off in the distance right now, but we know quickly these things go by.

He wants to stay with Oakland and A’s fans want nothing more than for that to happen. While the pandemic threw a wrench in more than just the game itself, it's still yet to be determined what his future might be in Oakland.

What makes A's starter Chris Bassitt's slow curveball so effective

What makes A's starter Chris Bassitt's slow curveball so effective

A’s starter Chris Bassitt has this long, slow curveball that throws hitters off, often causing them to swing and miss beautifully. It almost forces hitters out of their helmets. 

It’s a pitch that A’s manager Bob Melvin brings up periodically when asked about Bassitt, as it’s simply just fun to watch.

Viral pitching Twitter account Pitching Ninja has tweeted out GIFs or this particular pitch multiple times. So you know it’s good.

On Wednesday, during the A’s 8-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels, Bassitt even impressed himself with the way his curve was looking.

“I mean, I think I can up the usage more than what I have been, but I mean overall I think it’s good, it’s coming along very well,” Bassitt said after Wednesday’s victory. 

So far this season, he’s only thrown the curveball about 9.3 percent of the time. That's quite a downfall from previous seasons where, from 2014-19, he utilized it 14.4 percent of the time. 

But that might change with how it looked against the Halos on Wednesday.

“Today was by far the best I had it,” Bassitt added. “I probably should have thrown it more, it’s just yeah -- the third inning, I threw way too many fastballs. Looking back, I wish I threw a lot more curveballs or offspeed pitches, I was trying to set my curveball up to [Anthony] Rendon in the last batter, I just never got to it. Yeah, I like where it’s at right now.”

Bassitt smiled and laughed when told his 69 mph pitch made it to the Pitching Ninja account. 

"I like when I make that,” Bassitt said.

Pitching Ninja, or Rob Friedman, enjoyed it as well.

“There’s something about a slow curveball that exemplifies the beauty of pitching,” Friedman told NBC Sports California. “That and the fact that it was 69 mph makes it even sexier. Seriously, Bassitt’s ability to take that much off the (velocity) of the pitch as a guy who can throw in the mid-90s and float it in there is impressive and really keeps hitters off balance.”

[RELATED: Bassitt, Austin Allen bonding quickly on the mound]

That curve's velocity has slowed down quite a bit over the years, averaging around 70 mph this season. So knowing he could top out around 95 with his fastball and quickly take off more than 20 mph is why that pitch is worthy of an article ... and a few Pitching Ninja GIFs.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]