Athletics

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

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USATI

Could Franklin Barreto get a look in center field for A's?

Don’t count out top prospect Franklin Barreto as a possibility for the A’s in center field.

It’s long been speculated that the middle infielder might eventually get a look in center, and the idea has at least been discussed in team circles. It’s tied partially to whether the A’s exercise their $6 million club option on Jed Lowrie and bring him back as their regular second baseman in 2018.

Regardless, the battle to be Oakland’s everyday center fielder will be one of the A’s most intriguing storylines next spring. Grady Fuson, a special assistant to general manager David Forst who spends much of the season evaluating the team’s farm system, discussed several of the team’s center field options in the latest A’s Insider Podcast.

So much revolves around the health of 22-year-old Dustin Fowler, one of three prospects the A’s received from the Yankees for Sonny Gray. He’ll spend the winter continuing to rehab from a devastating knee injury suffered in his very first major league game in June while still with New York.

The A’s are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training and believe he can be a solution in center.

“Fowler certainly is the guy we made this trade for, and I think everybody, top to bottom, in the system is counting on him taking that spot,” Fuson said. “But we all know he’s been hurt. How he comes back, who knows? Boog (Powell’s) been doing a very good job for us. And there’s other options.”

The 21-year-old Barreto, who has split time between second and short this season at Triple-A and with the big club, played some center in the Venezuelan Winter League in 2015. He’s always talked with enthusiasm about the idea.

The A’s experimented with another highly touted young infielder, Yairo Munoz, in center field in the minors this season.

“(We’ve) had discussions about taking Munoz out there, which we’ve done,” Fuson said. “We’ve had discussions about maybe Franklin Barreto, depending on what happens at second here at end of the year, over the winter, and early in camp.”

Lowrie has enjoyed a very strong season with Oakland, and A’s executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has said the team is seriously considering picking up his option. Having Barreto be an option in center could be a way to keep him in the majors in 2018 even if Lowrie returns at second base.

Fuson stressed that the idea of Barreto in center hasn’t advanced past the early-discussion phase. No decisions have been made.

What’s interesting is that, in a short time, the A’s have gone from scarce few center field options to suddenly having several. Powell and Fowler may enter the spring as front runners, but Munoz, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Jake Smolinski and, perhaps, Barreto may all have a shot too.

The A’s also used their first-round pick in June on high school center fielder Austin Beck, who represents another option down the road.

Jeurys Familia joins the A's at perfect time and picks up win in debut

Jeurys Familia joins the A's at perfect time and picks up win in debut

Jeurys Familia didn't have a whole lot of time for introductions. The newest Oakland A's reliever arrived at the Coliseum just over an hour before first pitch Sunday, less than 24 hours after being acquired from the New York Mets.

A few hours later, the 28-year-old reliever made his A's debut, with the game on the line, no less. Familia entered a 5-5 tie in the ninth inning and proceeded to pitch two scoreless frames, earning the win when Matt Chapman singled home Marcus Semien in the bottom of the 10th, giving the A's a 6-5 victory over the Giants. 

"When you have that kind of a trade and you come to a new team, first impressions are important," A's manager Bob Melvin admitted in his postgame press conference. "When you pitch the way he did, it makes you feel like part of the team very quickly. He was terrific."

"Unbelievable," Sean Manaea marveled from the A's locker room. "I remember watching him in the World Series a couple years ago, and just watching him today, his stuff is nasty. I'm super excited to have him."

Familia joined the A's at the perfect time, as closer Blake Treinen was unavailable to pitch Sunday after throwing 41 pitches the night before. A former All-Star closer, Familia will primarily be used in a setup role moving forward, but he has no problem with that.

"I'm not really concerned with it," he told reporters after the win, through an interpreter. "Whether I pitch the seventh, eighth, or ninth inning, i just want to help the team win."

Added Melvin: "To come into a tie game, you have to be perfect. To do it two innings in a row, for the first time in front of the fan base and in front of your team, there were probably some nerves involved. It certainly didn't show. It was big."

Prior to this weekend, Familia had spent his entire career in the Mets organization. He was understandably emotional when he found out about the trade.

"It was really difficult," he said. "I spent 11 years there, six years in the big leagues. It was really tough to say goodbye to some of those guys."

But Familia is excited to be on a contender and help form one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The A's are the only team in MLB without a loss when leading after seven innings (39-0), and now they've added another All-Star closer to the mix. Good luck coming back against that.

A's walk off Giants to clinch 'The Bridge' in trophy's first year

A's walk off Giants to clinch 'The Bridge' in trophy's first year

The Oakland A's won on a walk-off against the San Francisco Giants for the second straight game on Sunday, and picked up a trophy in the process. Sunday's win clinched the Bay Bridge Series, and thus "The Bridge," the trophy designed to commemorate the rivalry. 

"The Bridge" was on the line on Sunday. While the Giants couldn't have won the season series, they still could have won the trophy. Although the Bay Bridge Series would have been tied 3-3, San Francisco would have won "The Bridge" by virtue of winning the series' last game. 

Andrew McCutchen gave the Giants a one-run lead with a solo home run in the eighth inning, but A's slugger Khris Davis erased it with a solo shot of his own (and his second homer of the day) in the next half-inning. 

Oakland first baseman Matt Olson appeared to all but clinch "The Bridge" with a sixth-inning solo homer, his second on Sunday, to give the A's a 4-1 lead. But Pablo Sandoval cut the lead to one with a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh inning, then Alen Hanson flared a pinch-hit single to run two at-bats later to tie the game 4-4.

"The Bridge," a trophy made from steel of the original San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, commemorates the interleague rivalrly between the Bay Area's big-league baseball teams. It is awarded to the winner of each year's regular-season series.