Athletics

How A's look following Mookie Betts, Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster trade

How A's look following Mookie Betts, Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster trade

The two-team MLB blockbuster trade turned into three. 

We knew a Mookie Betts acquisition would happen eventually, and that's exactly what occurred on Tuesday when the Boston Red Sox reportedly sent the 2018 AL MVP and pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers in part of a blockbuster deal that included the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels:

Additionally, Joc Pederson reportedly will be heading to the Angels in the trade along with pitcher Ross Stripling. The Dodgers will acquire second baseman Luis Rengifo. 

Now that you're up to speed, what does this mean for the A's?

Well, not a lot on the surface. But the reloading Angels shouldn't be ignored.

A's manager Bob Melvin spoke to NBC Sports California earlier in the offseason and mentioned how the Angels will be one of the most improved teams in the league. This was back when the team acquired All-Star third baseman, Anthony Rendon.

Pederson is coming off of a 36-homer season with the Dodgers, and despite a slight uptick in power over the last few seasons, this isn't a game-changer for when the A's face their AL West foes. It may even benefit the Green and Gold, as Peterson struggles against lefties, with a career .188 average.

The Angels needed to take over the empty spot in right field after Kole Calhoun's departure for the Diamondbacks. Pederson's average ISO is higher than Kalhoun, so with the addition of Mike Trout and Justin Upton, the Angels could gain an advantage from the extra raw power boost.

The Halos also needed pitching, so the addition of Stripling is a good one to add to the back part of the rotation. 

The 30-year-old earned an All-Star selection in 2018 when he boasted a 3.02 ERA, 1.189 WHIP with 136 strikeouts in 122 innings with the Dodgers. 

The Angels now have five starting pitchers in addition to two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who will be added into the mix on the bump at a limited amount once he's cleared from Tommy John rehab.

Los Angeles surely will make things interesting in the AL West, but regardless, the Astros remain the A's biggest competition yet again in the division.

Meanwhile, the Twins, another playoff team the A's could face down the line, weren't at the focal point of the Betts trade but they added to their pitching staff as well.

Maeda will bolster the Twins' starting rotation immediately. Despite getting rid of pitcher Brusdar Grateral, one of the league's top 100 prospects, this appears to be more of an acquisition that would help the Twins immediately rather than waiting for the 21-year-old to flourish in his reliever role.

Maeda boasted a 4.04 ERA with 169 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings with the Dodgers last season.

The A's open their 2020 season against the Twins, who signed former Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson to a four-year, $92 million contract in late January.

[RELATED: BoMel excited to see young catchers this season]

As far as how the Red Sox did in the trade, losing Betts is a major blow. And Boston also needs to find a way to fill the spot left by Price in the rotation.

The only strong weapons the team has left to rely on are the offensive talents of J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts.

But that's about it. The Dodgers got a great one. 

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Baseball can occasionally manifest some pretty fascinating personal connections.

Like how Mike Fiers, the eldest starter in the A's rotation, currently is forging an even tighter bond with Jesús Luzardo, one of his youngest counterparts.

“He only lives like 10 minutes from me,” Fiers told NBC Sports California on Tuesday from Florida. “So it’s not even like the home state, it’s like the home city.”

But their acquaintance didn’t start in Oakland. It actually began in the late 2000s.

“I remember him as a 10-, 11-year-old kid,” Fiers said. “Throwing bullpen [sessions] over by my high school, and helping out over there.”

Fiers has been following the lefty’s journey ever since. What a coincidence they’d end up on the same big league team.

“Obviously he became a big name coming through high school," Fiers said, "and his velocity getting up there, and then being a high draft pick.”

Now the two are workout partners in the strangest of times, with MLB, sports and much of life on complete pause.

Fiers and Luzardo get together every couple of days and complete socially-distanced pitching workouts, where they are able to push and provide each other inspiration.

“We cut it down to only a couple of guys,” Fiers said of the workouts. “We know how serious this thing is, and nobody wants to jeopardize their families and their livelihood.”

[RELATED: Fiers gifted Profar, Laureano for catches to save no-hitter]

The pair are taking thorough precautions in the no-contact sessions, which also feature strategically placed bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. There’s also a portable pitching mound, supplied by Fiers.

“We actually took that out to a church,” Fiers said. “It’s the only place we have left, a church parking lot. There’s a field next to it. So we just keep that pitching mound under a tree.”

It’s hardly the Coliseum, but it will have to do for now.

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

It was a unique night. 

Back on May 7, 2019, the lights went out at Oakland Coliseum, causing a delay in play for the A’s as they hosted the Cincinnati Reds. On that same night, A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career.

He threw 131 pitches in the outing which was the most since, well, his previous no-hitter in 2015 with the Houston Astros.

It was also an entertaining display for those watching.

In the sixth inning, Jurickson Profar made a spectacular catch at second base to help Fiers preserve his no-no. It was immediately followed by a stellar catch from center fielder Ramón Laureano to rob Joey Votto of a home run. The robbery would have made Mike Trout blush. 

They were rewarded for their efforts, as Fiers compensated the two with a gift.

“Yeah, I had to,” Fiers told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That’s just something that happens in baseball. Someone makes a great play and for the game to turn out the way it did for me, it’s a big accomplishment for me, so for them to help me in that way, to go out of their way to make a crazy play, you got to give them a little something.”

Fiers said they got “nice little watches.”

“It wasn’t anything too crazy,” Fiers said. 

He said he appreciates everyone on the team and would have gifted every guy a watch, but admitted it would have been pricey at that point.

[RELATED: Watch A's defensive gems preserve Fiers' no-hitter]

If A's third baseman Matt Chapman received a watch for every stellar play he made, the watch industry would never suffer again.

It’s nice to see Laureano and Profar were taken care of.