OAKLAND -- The Oakland A’s are good. In fact, they might be really good, but you wouldn’t know it by the number of fans streaming in the turnstiles. While the vibe around the team is amazing, the players are starting to notice the lack of support and they are starting to get vocal about the issue.
Matt Chapman is the latest A’s player to step up and make a public plea to the Oakland fanbase. After posting multiple highlight reel defensive plays to go with three doubles, three runs and a pair of RBI, the second-year third basemen topped his night off with a pointed message.
“I just want to use this time to just encourage people in Oakland to come out, man,” the 25-year-old star said on the A’s telecast following the A’s 7-6 win on Monday night. “All the fans and support we can get, we can really appreciate it. Tonight, we’re fighting ‘til the very end against the Mariners and I just wish we can get some people out here, man. We’re fun to watch. We really want our fans to come out and support us, it’d be great.”
Chapman is 100-percent correct. This is an exciting and fun team to watch. They play hard. They hit home runs. They hustle all over the field and they have one of the best bullpens in major league baseball.
The announced crowd of 10,400 fans is not what you would expect to see when a team is in the thick of a postseason chase. With the win, the A’s moved to 71-48 on the season. They trail the Houston Astros by just two games for the lead in the West and they have a 2.5 game lead over Seattle for the wildcard.
Chapman is on the cusp of being the next superstar. He’s a player that fans would love to see play his entire career in green and gold. There is a history of players like him leaving long before they should, but at some point fans need to show up and appreciate him for the special player he is and the unique team that the A’s front office has assembled.
This club is pacing for 97 wins. They have momentum and they are in the midst of a long homestand against division rivals fighting for a playoff spot. It’s probably time for the fanbase to come to the ballpark and show them the love and respect they deserve.
It could be Sonny again in Oakland, but there's reportedly still a long way to go.
The A's reached out to the Yankees about acquiring right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, "but there is no present momentum in talks," MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Friday.
Last week, Fancred's Jon Heyman reported the A's were interested in re-acquiring Gray, who pitched in Oakland from 2013 to 2017 before being traded to New York. As Morosi noted, they've had no problem bringing back former pitchers, and there's good reason that a return to Oakland could bring the best out of Gray.
For one thing, he was a much better pitcher away from Yankee Stadium since the Bronx Bombers acquired him at the trade deadline in 2017. Gray went 6-7 with a 6.55 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in 88.0 innings in the Bronx. By contrast, he was 9-9 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the road. In 386.0 innings at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with the A's, Gray was 25-20 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.
Injuries to promising young starters such as Sean Manaea and A.J. Puk forced the A's to use a patchwork starting rotation down the stretch last season, and the team relied on a bullpenning strategy en route to its first playoff appearance in four years. As a result, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane identified starting pitching as the team's top priority this offseason.
[ROSS: How Patrick Corbin's contract could affect A's starting pitching market]
[MORE: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]
Re-acquiring Gray would maintain the approach that kept the rotation afloat last season but offer the A's much more upside than bringing back Cahill and Anderson. With the Yankees actively looking to trade Gray, it makes a lot of sense for both teams.
Based on Morosi's report, it sounds like they'll have to start picking up the phone, though.
Patrick Corbin probably won't be signing with Oakland, but his contract should still be of interest to A's fans.
The 29-year-old left-hander is arguably the top pitcher available in free agency, meaning his contract could set the market for everyone else.
Corbin dominated hitters in 2018, striking out 246 in 200 innings. He posted a 3.15 ERA and 1.05 WHIP despite pitching his home games at Chase Field in Arizona, known as a hitter's park.
Corbin is projected to get somewhere in the range of five years for $100 million. Fellow left-hander Dallas Keuchel is also expected to get that type of money. However, we won't know the exact market for starters until Corbin and Keuchel get their offers.
After the top two starters, there is a slight drop off to veterans like J.A. Happ, Charlie Morton, and Nathan Eovaldi. Their offers will also depend, at least in part, on Corbin's contract. There is then a trickle-down effect through the rest of the available free agent starting pitchers.
[ROSS: Did Nathan Eovaldi's playoff heroics put him out of A's price range?]
That means even if the A's don't sign Corbin, his contract could alter the price they pay for their own free agent targets. Oakland could conceivably pursue names like Wade Miley, Tyson Ross, and Clay Buchholz.
Of course, the A's have their own free agent starting pitchers to consider. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson were crucial to Oakland's success last season. Jackson and Cahill, in particular, significantly increased their value moving forward.
But it all starts at the top with Corbin. Stay tuned.
Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Thursday is dedicated to free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin.