Athletics

Matt Chapman, Matt Olson win first career Gold Glove awards

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NBC Sports Bay Area

Matt Chapman, Matt Olson win first career Gold Glove awards

For the first time since 2012, the Oakland A's have a Gold Glove Award winner. They actually have two.

Third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson each snagged their first career Gold Glove Sunday night.

Chapman beat out Houston's Alex Bregman and Cleveland's Jose Ramirez at third base. The 25-year-old led all of baseball with 29 defensive runs saved and a 19.5 SABR Defensive Index rating.

“It’s an honor to win this prestigious award," Chapman said in a statement released by the A's on Sunday evening. "We all work to be the best at what we do and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to combine my ability with hard work. I want to thank Bob Melvin and all of the coaches who have helped me get to where I am today, especially Matt Williams who has helped me reach the next level. Lastly, I want to thank the Oakland A’s for giving me this opportunity. I am forever grateful.”

Chapman led all third basemen with a 10.9 ultimate zone rating and .853 zone rating. He becomes the first A's third baseman to win a Gold Glove since Eric Chavez in 2006.

Olson defeated Boston's Mitch Moreland and Toronto's Justin Smoak at first base. The 24-year-old led AL first basemen with a 5.8 SABR Defensive Index rating, 14 defensive runs saved, a .913 zone rating, and 11.6 ultimate zone rating.

"It's definitely nice," Olson told reporters on a conference call. "First base doesn't necessarily get the glory that some other positions do, and that's more than fine, but to be able to go out and have a good year defensively like I did, it's nice to get that recognition. ... I've always been pretty confident in my defensive ability. It's something that I've kind of naturally had growing up. So I knew I could definitely have the potential to be a Gold Glove first baseman, not necessarily in my first full year."

Olson was the only first baseman in the majors to play in all 162 regular season games. He is the first A's first baseman to win a Gold Glove since Mark McGwire in 1990.

A's shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Jed Lowrie were Gold Glove Award finalists but came up short of making it an Oakland sweep. The Angels' Andrelton Simmons got the nod at shortstop, while Boston's Ian Kinsler won at second base.

Chapman and Olson will now have a chance to win the Platinum Glove Award, given to the top defender in each league regardless of position. Fans can vote for one of the nine Gold Glove Award winners to determine the Platinum Glove winner. No A's player has won a Platinum Glove since it was established in 2011.

A's to keep using openers in 2019 as strategy spreads to rest of MLB

A's to keep using openers in 2019 as strategy spreads to rest of MLB

LAS VEGAS -- Love it or hate it, the opener isn't going anywhere.

After experimenting with the strategy of starting a relief pitcher in September, not to mention the AL Wild Card Game, the A's plan to continue employing it next season.

"Yeah, I think that is here to stay," manager Bob Melvin told reporters Tuesday. "I think we're used to it, so to speak. And you're seeing other teams do it, too. I think you'll see more of it next year."

General manager David Forst added: "I think it may continue to be a necessity going forward. It's not easy to find starting pitching. We are exploring all avenues, but I think we recognize that there are different ways to get 27 outs and we're going to have to consider all of them." 

Oakland primarily used right-hander Liam Hendriks in the opener role last season. He figures to be a logical choice again next year after signing a new one-year, $2.15 million deal last month.

"I think depending on who we identify as guys we need to get innings from and then maybe if there's some vulnerability with some other guys, maybe that's the route we go as far as the opener," Melvin explained.

The Tampa Bay Rays were the first team to start using an opener last season. Since then, the trend has grown beyond just Oakland.

As Melvin mentioned, more and more teams are open to the idea, no pun intended. Even Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he would consider the strategy next season.

The opener certainly makes sense for a team like the A's, who boast an incredibly strong bullpen while lacking depth in the starting rotation. If they can work out some of the kinks, the tactic could ultimately prove quite successful.

Just ask the Rays.

What Chris Herrmann signing means for Jonathan Lucroy's A's future

What Chris Herrmann signing means for Jonathan Lucroy's A's future

LAS VEGAS -- The A's made their first move of the MLB Winter Meetings on Tuesday afternoon when they added free-agent catcher Chris Herrmann on a one-year contract worth a reported $1 million.

Herrmann, 31, becomes the second catcher on the A's 40-man roster, joining Josh Phegley. The big question now is, what does that mean for 2018 starter (and free agent) Jonathan Lucroy?

Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lucroy and the A's are not close on salary in their negotiation. Could Oakland really enter the season with just Herrman and Phegley at catcher?

"As of right now, [they] are platooning," A's general manager David Forst said Tuesday. "I think we'll still probably look around and see if there are options just because you never know, but it's nice to be in a spot right now where we have two major league catchers who fit well."

A left-handed hitter, Herrmann has a career slash line of .205/.282/.351 in parts of seven MLB seasons. He spent last year with the Mariners, though he played just 36 games at the big-league level.

"We saw him last year," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He had some good games against us. ... He handles the bat pretty well. A lot of the metrics we look at as far as framing and pop times to second base look pretty good for us, and that's why we ended up signing him."

Added Forst: "Chris spent a lot of last year in the minor leagues, but he played very well in [Triple-A] Tacoma. He has always been a guy who can handle the bat, take a walk, and when he has caught full-time, he's done well."

[RELATED: Source: A's close to moving on from free agent Jed Lowrie]

It now becomes unlikely that Lucroy will re-sign with the A's, at least in the near future. However, the catcher market is deep, and there is a chance Lucroy won't receive a satisfactory offer from anyone, forcing him to remain a free agent until late in the offseason like last year.

If that's the case, Oakland could take another crack at bringing back its starting catcher for a discounted price. But if Lucroy does draw interest before then, he's as good as gone.

Still, Forst insists the A's would be comfortable entering the season with a Herrmann-Phegley platoon behind the plate.

"Yes, we would," he stated. "I think we'd be fine right now, but there's a lot of time left, so we'll see if other opportunities come up."