Athletics

MLB free agency: Why A's could target these three non-tendered players

travisshawbrewersusatsi.jpg
USATSI

MLB free agency: Why A's could target these three non-tendered players

The A's non-tendered veterans Blake Treinen, Ryan Buchter, and Josh Phegley Monday night ahead of MLB's non-tender deadline. They weren't the only team making moves.

Throughout the league, a total of 56 players were non-tendered and became free agents. Here are three of those players the A's could potentially target this offseason:

Travis Shaw

Shaw struggled last season with the Brewers but was phenomenal in his previous two years. The 29-year-old infielder posted an OPS of .862 in 2017 with 31 home runs and 101 RBI. He was nearly as good in 2018, with 32 homers, 85 RBI and an .825 OPS.

Last season, however, Shaw plummeted to a .551 OPS, hitting just seven homers in 86 games. Still, he has a career slash line of .243/.327/.451, averaging 27 homers and 85 RBI per 162 games.

Most importantly, Shaw bats left-handed and can play second base, two attributes the A's highly desire at the moment. He's also affordable, with a projected a $4.7 million salary in arbitration before Monday's non-tender. At that price, Shaw could be worth a flier.

Junior Guerra

Guerra is another interesting target who was non-tendered by the Brewers. The right-hander pitched an NL-leading 83 2/3 innings out of the bullpen last season after spending the previous three years as a starter. He went 9-5 with three saves and a 3.55 ERA, notching 77 strikeouts against 36 walks.

In five major league seasons, Guerra is 25-21 with a 3.81 ERA. He features a three-pitch mix, with a mid-90s fastball, a low-80s changeup, and a mid-80s splitter.

Guerra was projected to get $3.5 million in arbitration, a fair price to pay for a true workhorse reliever.

[RELATED: How moves affect A's 2020 roster]

Yimi Garcia

Garcia represents another potential right-handed relief target. The 29-year-old recorded a 3.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 64 appearances with the Dodgers last season, striking out 66 batters in 62 1/3 innings, compared to just 14 walks.

Garcia has spent his entire five-year career with the Dodgers, maintaining a 3.66 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He mixes a mid-90s fastball with a slider, cutter, and changeup, resulting in an impressive 5.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio throughout his career.

Garcia was only projected to receive $1.1 million in arbitration, which would be a bargain.
 

Jessica Mendoza blames A's Mike Fiers for making Astros scandal public

Jessica Mendoza blames A's Mike Fiers for making Astros scandal public

Blaming the whistleblower is far too popular these days. On Thursday morning, Jessica Mendoza became the latest to join the wrong side of history. 

Mendoza, a former gold medalist softball player, blamed A's pitcher Mike Fiers for the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal becoming public information and the way it has "hurt the game." 

"Going public, yeah," Mendoza said Thursday morning on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo" when asked if she had a problem with Fiers speaking out on the Astros cheating while with a new team. "I mean, I get it. If you're on the Oakland A's and you're with a different team, I mean, heck yeah. You better be telling your teammates, 'Look, hey, heads up when you're pitching and you hear some noises, this is what's going on.' For sure. But to go public, yeah, it didn't sit well with me. 

"And honestly, it made me sad for the sport that that's how this all got found out. I mean, this wasn't something that MLB naturally investigated or that even other teams complained about because they naturally heard about and then investigations happened. It came from within. It was a player that was a part of it, that benefitted from it in the regular season when he when a part of the team.

"And when I first heard about it, it just hits you like any teammate would. It's something that you don't do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know. But to go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it's hard to swallow." 

Mendoza later tried to explain her remarks. 

Her original comments are wrong on so many levels, but let's start with the conflict of interest here. Mendoza is an MLB broadcaster for ESPN while at the same time working in an advisory role for the New York Mets' baseball operations. There's conflict of interest No. 1. And it doesn't stop there. 

Carlos Beltran was a player on the Astros when they won the World Series in 2017, the year that Houston is accused of electronically stealing signs. He also was the only player named in MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred's report on the cheating scandal. How does this tie back to Mendoza? Beltran was hired as the Mets' manager on Nov. 1, 2019.

There's conflict of interest No. 2. 

Shortly after Mendoza's remarks Thursday, Beltran and the Mets mutually parted ways.

In a November report from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich, Fiers, who joined the A's halfway through the 2018 season, was the first player to confirm the Astros used technology to steal signs. 

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said

On Monday, MLB looked to clean the game up like Fiers wished. 

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were each suspended by MLB without pay for the 2020 season. Houston also had to forfeit its first- and second-round picks for the 2020 and '21 MLB Drafts. On top of that, the Astros were fined $5 million -- the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution -- and former Astros assistant GM Brandon Taubman was placed on baseball's ineligible list through the end of the 2020 World Series. 

Later that day, the Astros announced they fired Hinch and Lunhow.

Alex Cora, who was an Astros bench coach at the time and was linked to electronically stealing signs, parted ways with the Boston Red Sox as their manager Tuesday.

[RELATED: Where Luzardo, Puk rank among lefty pitching prospects]

What Fiers did in November was far from a sad day for baseball. It was an act of courage to put your name next to strong statements instead of hiding behind anonymous quotes. 

What Mendoza did Thursday, however, is nothing more than cowardice.

Where Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk rank among left-handed pitching prospects

Where Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk rank among left-handed pitching prospects

The A's have three no-hitters in their rotation between Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea. They have one of the most intriguing pitchers in baseball with Frankie Montas. And yet, none of those three bring as much excitement and reason for optimism as two young lefties. 

Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk are two of the best young lefties in the game. MLB Pipeline agrees. 

Both Luzardo and Puk were highlighted Wednesday when MLB Pipeline released its list of the 10 best left-handed pitching prospects in the game. Luzardo leads the way for Oakland and is ranked behind only San Diego Padres prospect MacKenzie Gore as the best southpaw prospect. 

Luzardo, 22, jumped one spot from his previous ranking. He made his major league debut last season in September and immediately looked like a future star. The first Peruvian-born big leaguer struck out the first batter he faced in the majors, Houston Astros infielder Aledmys Diaz. 

Luzardo suffered a few setbacks last season, including a Grade 2 lat strain and a shoulder injury. He finished the season with a 1.50 ERA in six appearances out of the bullpen and struck out 16 batters in 12 innings. 

The A's expect Luzardo to play a large role in their rotation next season, however, they likely will limit his innings and keep a keen eye on his health.

Puk dropped two spots in MLB Pipeline's rankings, from No. 5 to No. 7. He also is expected to be a big factor among A's starters this year. 

The 6-foot-7, former No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft, had Tommy John surgery in April 2018 and will need to prove he's built to be a starter. Puk made his big league debut in late August and showed he has plenty of strikeout stuff, though he did struggle with his control at times. 

[RELATED: MLB execs: A's prospects Luzardo, Murphy will thrive in '20]

The former Florida Gator went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 1/3 innings last year. Puk can hit triple digits and has an absolutely nasty slider. 

Luzardo and Puk should be a nightmare for opposing AL West teams for years to come. That's the dream scenario for the A's and their fans alike.