Athletics

Despite stadium uncertainty, Beane stands by long-term plan for A's youngsters

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Despite stadium uncertainty, Beane stands by long-term plan for A's youngsters

The deterioration of ballpark talks at the Peralta site won’t affect the A’s grand plan on the baseball side of things.

At least that’s what vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane told reporters Monday as the Winter Meetings opened in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The A’s promoted a number of highly regarded minor leaguers last season who showed promise that they could be future foundation pieces. Along those lines, Beane and his staff planned to target some of those youngsters for long-term contract extensions, with an eye toward generating momentum as a new ballpark was built near downtown Oakland.

The A’s will still look to lock up some of those players, Beane said, even after last week’s news that the Peralta Community College District board halted negotiations for the team to build a new ballpark on land that sits near Laney College.

“I think it’s still a strategy we try to embark on,” Beane said of signing young players.

Consider third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson, who both entrenched themselves last season as rookies, as two obvious candidates for long-term deals at some point. But they aren’t the only two.

When could the first deals come?

“Realistically, the sooner the better,” Beane said. “Certainly we’ve got between now and spring training to introduce the idea. But probably more sooner than later.”

It’s an uncertain time for this franchise. Will the A’s look elsewhere to build in Oakland? They don’t seem thrilled with the idea of revisiting the current Coliseum site or Howard Terminal as possible locations. Could majority owner John Fisher consider selling? And if so, does that open the door to the franchise leaving the Bay Area? It doesn’t seem any scenario should be counted out right now.

No one representing the club, including team president Dave Kaval, has spoken publicly about ballpark plans since the Peralta talks abruptly ended Wednesday.

As far as baseball operations go, it only makes sense to continue down the path that they recently committed to. The only bad course of action for the A’s is not to take any action at all.

Beane and general manager David Forst need to stay the course and continue their commitment to young players, crossing their fingers that the business side of the operation can pivot and find a new direction for building a ballpark.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Ryan Buchter

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Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Ryan Buchter

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

While other A's relievers may have earned more notoriety, Ryan Buchter was an important part of the bullpen in 2018. The 31-year-old southpaw went 6-0 with a 2.75 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in his first season with Oakland.

Buchter was especially effective against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .169/.231/.265 slash line. He finished the season extremely strong, allowing just two runs in his final 24 appearances.

The fourth-year pro earned $555k in 2018 and is projected to get $1.3 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Buchter spent almost the entire year as Oakland's only left-hander in the bullpen. Manager Bob Melvin relied on him to retire opponents' best left-handed hitters, and Buchter did a tremendous job of that. He also faced a number of right-handed batters and held his own against them.

For $1.3 million, the A's would be wise to bring Buchter back, especially since there is a good chance they will lose Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney, and Shawn Kelley.

Why he might be too pricey

Some might argue that $1.3 million is too much money to spend on a left-handed specialist. Most of Buchter's outings lasted less than an inning, as he was typically only asked to retire one or two batters.

Even if the A's do end up losing Familia, Rodney, and Kelley, they still have solid right-handers to turn to in Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, and Yusmeiro Petit.

Verdict

For just over a million dollars, Buchter is absolutely worth bringing back for another season. He proved to be a reliable left-handed option out of the bullpen and only got better as the season progressed. While Oakland has other reliable arms in the pen, Buchter is their only left-hander and would be especially valuable against AL West lefties like Robinson Cano, Kole Calhoun, Josh Reddick, and Joey Gallo.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Khris Davis

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Khris Davis

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Khris Davis is the best power hitter in baseball. That's not an opinion. It's a fact.

Over the last three seasons, Davis leads all of MLB with 133 home runs. He led the league with 48 homers this past season and finished second with 123 RBI. It marked the third straight year he hit 40-plus home runs and drove in more than 100 runs.

Davis, 30, slashed .247/.326/.549 for the season. Incredibly, it was the fourth straight year he hit exactly .247.

Davis earned a team-high $10.5 million and is projected to get $18.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

It's hard to call $18.1 million a bargain, but for Khris Davis, it probably is. Davis affects the A's lineup in a way that very few other hitters can. He changes the way other A's players are pitched and can change any game with one swing of the bat.

Davis has also been extremely durable during his three seasons in Oakland. He has missed just 32 games over the course of three years, playing in 150 games or more in all three seasons. Davis' power numbers have improved each year in Oakland, from 42 home runs and 102 RBI in 2016, to 43 homers and 110 RBI in 2017, to a career-high 48 round-trippers and 123 RBI in 2018.

Why he might be too pricey

It's honestly hard to even make this argument. I guess you could say $18.1 million is too much for a designated hitter who doesn't hit for a great average.

While it's obviously a lot of money, Davis has earned whatever he gets.

Verdict

Davis will be back in Oakland next season. Executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane has already said as much. The real question is whether the A's will lock him up past 2019.

Beyond his production on the field, Davis has become a leader in the clubhouse and a fan favorite. He truly loves playing in Oakland, and Oakland loves him.