Athletics

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Jason Kipnis agrees to Cubs contract

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Jason Kipnis agrees to Cubs contract

After talking to a majority of the players leading up the spring training, the A's feel pretty confident going into the upcoming 2020 MLB season. Manager Bob Melvin himself said it's the most excited he has ever been since being with the A's. 

One of the main questions that still remains, however, is who will have an everyday or platoon role at second base.

MLB.com's Martín Gallegos reported Tuesday Oakland has been in contact with infielder Jason Kipnis, citing a source. 

Kipnis, a free agent, not only is a left-handed hitter the team has been searching for, but always has been an intriguing fit.

However, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported later Tuesday that Kipnis has agreed to a deal with the Cubs.

The 32-year-old has spent the entirety of his nine-year career playing for the Cleveland Indians, and now will face National League pitching for the first time.

Kipnis has .261/.333/.417 career slash line with a 103 wRC+.

[RELATED: How A's could benefit from possible MLB postseason changes]

The A's have some young talent as possible options at second base, but they're still craving a daily option. As of right now, Sheldon Neuse, Franklin Barreto and Chad Pinder are their internal options.

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Mike Fiers, Jesús Luzardo build close bond while social distancing in pandemic

Baseball can occasionally manifest some pretty fascinating personal connections.

Like how Mike Fiers, the eldest starter in the A's rotation, currently is forging an even tighter bond with Jesús Luzardo, one of his youngest counterparts.

“He only lives like 10 minutes from me,” Fiers told NBC Sports California on Tuesday from Florida. “So it’s not even like the home state, it’s like the home city.”

But their acquaintance didn’t start in Oakland. It actually began in the late 2000s.

“I remember him as a 10-, 11-year-old kid,” Fiers said. “Throwing bullpen [sessions] over by my high school, and helping out over there.”

Fiers has been following the lefty’s journey ever since. What a coincidence they’d end up on the same big league team.

“Obviously he became a big name coming through high school," Fiers said, "and his velocity getting up there, and then being a high draft pick.”

Now the two are workout partners in the strangest of times, with MLB, sports and much of life on complete pause.

Fiers and Luzardo get together every couple of days and complete socially-distanced pitching workouts, where they are able to push and provide each other inspiration.

“We cut it down to only a couple of guys,” Fiers said of the workouts. “We know how serious this thing is, and nobody wants to jeopardize their families and their livelihood.”

[RELATED: Fiers gifted Profar, Laureano for catches to save no-hitter]

The pair are taking thorough precautions in the no-contact sessions, which also feature strategically placed bottles of Purell hand sanitizer. There’s also a portable pitching mound, supplied by Fiers.

“We actually took that out to a church,” Fiers said. “It’s the only place we have left, a church parking lot. There’s a field next to it. So we just keep that pitching mound under a tree.”

It’s hardly the Coliseum, but it will have to do for now.

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

How Mike Fiers rewarded Jurickson Profar, Ramon Laureano for no-hitter

It was a unique night. 

Back on May 7, 2019, the lights went out at Oakland Coliseum, causing a delay in play for the A’s as they hosted the Cincinnati Reds. On that same night, A's pitcher Mike Fiers threw the second no-hitter of his career.

He threw 131 pitches in the outing which was the most since, well, his previous no-hitter in 2015 with the Houston Astros.

It was also an entertaining display for those watching.

In the sixth inning, Jurickson Profar made a spectacular catch at second base to help Fiers preserve his no-no. It was immediately followed by a stellar catch from center fielder Ramón Laureano to rob Joey Votto of a home run. The robbery would have made Mike Trout blush. 

They were rewarded for their efforts, as Fiers compensated the two with a gift.

“Yeah, I had to,” Fiers told NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil. “That’s just something that happens in baseball. Someone makes a great play and for the game to turn out the way it did for me, it’s a big accomplishment for me, so for them to help me in that way, to go out of their way to make a crazy play, you got to give them a little something.”

Fiers said they got “nice little watches.”

“It wasn’t anything too crazy,” Fiers said. 

He said he appreciates everyone on the team and would have gifted every guy a watch, but admitted it would have been pricey at that point.

[RELATED: Watch A's defensive gems preserve Fiers' no-hitter]

If A's third baseman Matt Chapman received a watch for every stellar play he made, the watch industry would never suffer again.

It’s nice to see Laureano and Profar were taken care of.