Athletics

Mike Fiers doesn't second guess A's decision to start Sean Manaea

Mike Fiers doesn't second guess A's decision to start Sean Manaea

For the second year in a row, the A's are going home after just one playoff game. For the second year in a row, manager Bob Melvin elected not to give the ball to Mike Fiers to get his team through the AL Wild Card Game.

Last season, Melvin opted for the opened strategy, giving the ball to Liam Hendriks at Yankee Stadium. On Wednesday, Melvin chose to give left-hander Sean Manaea the start against the Tampa Bay Rays. Manaea pitched well in September, but was hit hard with everything on the line, giving up four runs on four hits across two-plus innings of work as the Rays claimed a 5-1 victory at the Coliseum to advance to the American League Division Series.

As is custom when decisions backfire, the Twitter managers immediately questioned Melvin's decision not to start Fiers as soon as Yandy Diaz led off the game with a solo home run off Manaea. 

Fiers, however, didn't second guess Melvin's choice to not give him the ball with the season at stake.

“You could always look back and say, ‘You should have done this or you should have done that,’ but Manaea has pitched very well for us, and everyone was behind him and excited he was pitching," Fiers said after the game, via Susan Slusser of The San Francisco Chronicle.

Results aside, Melvin made the right call in starting Manaea.

Manaea posted a 1.21 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in September. He was the clear choice and few questioned the move before Diaz hammered the fifth pitch of the night into the Coliseum stands.

[RELATED: A's can't explain disappearing offense vs. Rays]

To think Fiers, a fly-ball pitcher in his own right, would have been immune to giving up the three round-trippers as Manaea did Wednesday is a fool's errand, something only taken up by those looking for a reason for another early October exit from the Green and Gold. 

Manaea fell flat in the big moment, but the A's offense mustered just one run on eight hits. Oakland's failure in another elimination game falls just as much on Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien and Co. as it does Manaea and Melvin's decision to give him the start.

The right call was made. Sometimes it just doesn't go your way.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.