Athletics

MLB free agency: A's have plenty of options in relief pitcher market

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MLB free agency: A's have plenty of options in relief pitcher market

MLB free agency has slowed down to a mere simmer once again. Expect that to be the case until third baseman Josh Donaldson signs, which likely will cause more dominos to fall.

Until then, the A's still are in search of an everyday second baseman. A lefty bat would be a bonus, as well as some relief help. Luckily for the A's, the reliever market still has some solid bullpen arms available.

Fernando Rodney is still out there, as is Chad Bettis and Tony Sipp, to name a few of the more intriguing options. 

Rodney blew out 42 candles on his last birthday cake, indicating age is nothing but a number. So while acquiring him isn't the craziest idea, it doesn't appear likely. Especially if you take a look at his 2019 numbers with the A's.

Rodney posted a cringe-worthy 9.42 ERA and a 2.23 WHIP in 14.1 innings last season with the A's before getting designated for assignment. He would up signing a minor-league deal with the Nationals' Triple-A team, and eventually found himself on the Nats' World Series squad. Things obviously turned out well for him.

But a reunion with the A's? Unlikely.

For someone of Chad Bettis' caliber, his numbers don't exactly stand out, but we always give someone the benefit of the doubt who has to pitch at Coors Field half of the time. A 6.08 ERA, 5.16 FIP and 1.56 WHIP last season showed hitters dominated him, on paper. But the increase of inducing groundballs and pitching in a more spacious ballpark could make him someone to take another look at. 

[RELATED: Eight memorable moments defining A's decade]

When it comes to 36-year-old Tony Sipp, he's someone who stands out simply on how well he pitches at the Coliseum. In 24 games in Oakland, he has limited batters to a .237 average, with 23 strikeouts with seven walks in those outings. He struggled last season with the Nationals, but during his five prior seasons with the Houston Astros, he showed he is a good fit in the AL West. 

There is, of course, a chance a trade could happen. Perhaps the A's give up two or three prospects for a stellar reliever. Whatever it is, they're aware they need to start hot in first half of the season and avoid that one-and-done wild-card game.

MLB rumors: Astros coach insulted Ramon Laureano's mom to spark brawl

MLB rumors: Astros coach insulted Ramon Laureano's mom to spark brawl

Don't you dare talk about someone's mom.

Apparently, that was the spark that set off the fiery benches-clearing brawl between the A's and Houston Astros on Sunday at the Coliseum.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, A's center fielder Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch from Astros reliever Humberto Castellanos. It was the third time in the series, and second time in the game, that Laureano had been plunked, so he wasn't thrilled.

When Laureano reached first base, he could be seen screaming in the direction of the Astros dugout along the first base line. His ire was directed mainly at Houston hitting coach Alex Cintron.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Something was said that caused Laureano to charge the Astros dugout and set off a brawl that surely will have severe consequences.

According to former Astros beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz, we now have an idea of what set Laureano off.

Sounds like this is a little more serious than a "Yo Mama" joke.

A's manager Bob Melvin was convinced someone said something offensive, and claimed Laureano wouldn't have charged the Astros dugout if nothing bad was said.

Astros manager Dusty Baker was asked after the game if Cintron made a remark to Laureano about his mother, and Baker said he wasn't sure. But he also said he understands why Latino players get upset when someone references their mother.

[RELATED: Why Laureano was tackled by Astros catcher Garneau]

With no fans in attendance at the Coliseum and TV microphones picking up just about every word uttered on the field, MLB likely will be able to find out exactly what was said between Cintron and Laureano.

Regardless of what was said, expect the league to hand down a hefty suspension for Laureano. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended eight games for throwing at Astros stars Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, which led to benches clearing between the two teams.

Dustin Garneau explains tackling Ramón Laureano during A's-Astros brawl

Dustin Garneau explains tackling Ramón Laureano during A's-Astros brawl

The A’s won 7-2 against the Houston Astros on Sunday to sweep the three-game series, but not without some drama.

The teams cleared the benches after Ramón Laureano charged at Astros hitting coach Alex Cintrón for saying something to him. Laureano had just been hit by a pitch for the second time of the day and was walking toward first base.

This was the result:

Former A’s catcher Dustin Garneau could be seen on the NBC Sports California broadcast appearing to grab Laureano and tackle him down to the ground, jumping in between the A's outfielder and several Astros players and coaches including Cintron.

Garneau later told reporters it was a preventative move.

“I was trying to stop the situation before punches were thrown and things got out of hand. That's really my whole goal for that incident,” Garneau said after Sunday’s game.

Garneau, who was standing to the side of Cintrón while the verbal exchange began, said he wasn’t sure what was said between the two.

“My whole point was, he charged our dugout and I was trying to tackle him so nothing would happen and then I held him down there for whenever it was over for the same reason,” Garneau added.

[RELATED: Projection has A's nearly playoff locks]

A’s manager Bob Melvin was asked after the game what was said by Cintrón and was directed toward Laureano.

“I can't tell you that,” he said. 

Both Laureano and A’s catcher Austin Allen were ejected immediately following the scuffle. Nobody from the Astros' dugout was. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]