The slow winter free agency period across MLB is playing out just as many expected.
But ‘slow’ may look different, externally, to what is actually happening, internally.
“Just because deals are moving slow doesn’t mean that there aren’t talks,” A's general manager David Forst said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with agents, and talks with [general managers] from other teams.”
The early uncertainty and hesitation by teams has been a growing trend over recent years, but is magnified in these times of a pandemic and a 2021 season that could once again be unconventional from business and baseball perspectives.
“We didn’t have winter meetings this year, and there’s a ton of uncertainty about the 2021 season that’s adding to this,” Forst said. “Things are going to be moved back even further back on the calendar, but the conversations are taking place."
Oakland has many targets and taken part in many talks that Forst obviously didn't want to discuss in detail.
Besides Marcus Semien, the team's longest-tenured player, there’s a lot of hope Oakland can retain Tommy La Stella, whom the A’s acquired right before the 2020 trade deadline.
“What a pain he was, on the other side,” Forst joked about La Stella, who was an A’s opponent 10 times last season.
“Before he was with the Angels, I don’t think we had a full appreciation for what kind of player he is and what he brings every day,” said Forst. “Seeing him as often as you do and then you match it up with the metrics. ... This incredible contact rate and the low strikeouts, and at the time we traded for him, I said it was exactly what our lineup needed.”
The need for La Stella still seems great. Not only for his versatility in the field, but his ability to put together good at-bats and produce.
“We clearly needed someone at the top of the lineup to put the ball in play and get on base," Forst said, "and Tommy was exactly what we needed, just at the right time.”