Athletics

Ranking A's free agents to re-sign from No. 1 to No. 8 in importance

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AP

Ranking A's free agents to re-sign from No. 1 to No. 8 in importance

There is a zero percent chance the A's will bring back all eight of their free agents next season.

OK, maybe 0.1 percent.

The A's instead will pinpoint their most valuable free agents and do everything in their power to re-sign them.

With that in mind, we've created our own rankings of Oakland's free agents, not taking salary into account. Here are the most important players to bring back next season:

1. Jonathan Lucroy

It was tough to rank Lucroy above Jed Lowrie, but the A's catcher was critical in so many ways last season. He caught more runners stealing than any other catcher in Major League Baseball and did a masterful job with the A's pitching staff.

Lucroy's offensive numbers have been down the past couple of seasons, but he still managed to notch 100 hits, including 21 doubles, and 51 RBI. The 32-year-old also was a central part of the A's terrific clubhouse chemistry.

With highly regarded prospect Sean Murphy still likely a year away, the A's should make re-signing Lucroy a top priority.

2. Jed Lowrie

Lowrie is coming off the best season of his career, slashing .267/.353/.448 with 23 home runs and 99 RBI. He was rewarded with his first All-Star Game selection and recently was named a Gold Glove Award finalist as well.

Lowrie will turn 35 in April, but he shows no signs of slowing down. If he re-signs with Oakland, he again should be a key hitter in the middle of the lineup.

The only reason Lowrie is ranked below Lucroy on this list is the presence of Franklin Barreto, who likely will take over the everyday second base job in the future.

3. Edwin Jackson

Where would the A's have been without Jackson last season? With all of the injuries to the starting rotation, Oakland relied heavily on Jackson down the stretch, and he came through in a big way. Jackson, 35, went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and almost immediately became a clubhouse favorite.

A's executive vice president Billy Beane already has said that starting pitching will be a top priority this offseason. That should start with Jackson.

4. Trevor Cahill

Cahill's second stint with the A's was mostly successful. The 30-year-old went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 21 appearances, including 20 starts.

Cahill helped keep the starting rotation afloat through Oakland's many injuries, and he certainly could provide some much-needed depth next season if the A's choose to bring him back.

5. Shawn Kelley

Kelley turned out to be a terrific acquisition for the stretch run. The 34-year-old went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 19 appearances with the A's.

Oakland already has a deep bullpen, especially with the return of Fernando Rodney, which is why Kelley is so low on this list. But if he wants to return, the A's should strongly consider bringing him back in 2019.

6. Jeurys Familia

Familia had an up-and-down season in 2018, finishing 8-6 with a 3.13 ERA and 18 saves between the Mets and A's. The 29-year-old was dominant when he first joined the A's but struggled to a 4.76 ERA in September.

Familia is expected to earn big money in free agency and probably won't return to the A's. This team has enough reliable bullpen arms to survive without him, although he probably would be welcomed back for the right price.

7. Brett Anderson

Anderson had a few great outings in 2018, but he mostly struggled en route to a 4-5 record and 4.48 ERA. The 30-year-old southpaw dealt with two arm injuries that landed him on the DL, but he recovered from both.

While the A's need depth in their starting rotation, there are probably better options out there than Anderson.

8. Matt Joyce

Joyce missed much of last season with a back injury and slashed just .208/.322/.353 in 207 at-bats. The 34-year-old was passed on the depth chart by younger outfielders like Nick Martini, Mark Canha, and Chad Pinder.

Joyce handled a frustrating season with class and professionalism, and he probably still could help another team next season. It just won't be the A's.

MLB rumors: A's in talks with Stephen Vogt's agent during free agency

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USATSI

MLB rumors: A's in talks with Stephen Vogt's agent during free agency

Stephen Vogt could be staying in the Bay Area after all. But the catcher might choose a reunion over the option to continue wearing a Giants jersey.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Monday morning that the A's have contacted the agent for the free-agent catcher.

Vogt, 35, proved to be fully healthy after what was once seen as potentially career-threatening shoulder surgery. After missing the entire 2018 season, Vogt was one of the Giants' most reliable bats this past season. 

The veteran catcher signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February, and went on to be a steal for San Francisco. He played in 99 games, hitting .263 with 10 homers and 40 RBI as a spot starter and backup to Buster Posey. Vogt also played seven games in left field last season. 

Vogt became somewhat of a cult hero over his four-and-a-half seasons in Oakland. He broke through as a 30-year-old for the A's in 2015 when he made his first of back-to-back All-Star Game appearances. 

The left-handed hitting catcher had a .255 batting average with 49 homers in 458 games with the A's. Even as someone who turned 35 on Nov. 1, he could be the perfect fit for an Oakland reunion. 

Adding Vogt likely would be the end of the Josh Phegley era. The A's have one of the best young catchers in the game in Sean Murphy, and could pair the 25-year-old right-handed hitter with Vogt, a veteran lefty. 

[RELATED: Vogt's championship desires might hinder Giants return in 2020]

Vogt could start games here and there behind the dish, as well as at DH, play left field and even first base, while being an incredibly serviceable bat off the bench. He hit .325 with two homers in 43 games off the bench for the Giants last season.

At this stage of his career, Vogt has one thing on his mind: A World Series ring. The A's could fit his desires while keeping him in the Bay Area on the team that truly gave him his first chance.

MLB free agency: Why reliever Daniel Hudson, A's might be good fit

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USATSI

MLB free agency: Why reliever Daniel Hudson, A's might be good fit

It's free agency time, baseball fans -- you know what that means. Well, if history has a way of repeating itself, it means some lulls in the winter months.

For now, we get to speculate and dissect rumors as they come. For the A's, that means concentrating on pitching acquisitions. 

Every team needs pitching whether they're starving for it or not. Oakland is no different, but they have a tendency to concentrate on bullpen arms and are willing to pay up as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand points out. 

Daniel Hudson is one of Feinsand's pitching free-agent targets for the A's and for good reason.

The 10-year veteran was a big part of the World Series champion Washington Nationals' success as he recorded the final out of the Fall Classic. His 2019 campaign had him boasting a 1.44 ERA in 24 games and 23 strikeouts in 25 innings. If you're into pitching wins (some of you are, it's OK to admit it) he was undefeated last season with a 3-0 record.

[RELATEDJesús Luzardo intriguing candidate for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Hudson never wanted the closing spot, he believed it was too much pressure, because of his ability to throw too many strikes and allowing too much contact. Hudson more than made up for those doubts in himself, but knowing he could potentially be a set-up man and assist in the closing department if needed could benefit the A's.

Liam Hendriks did a fabulous job last season transitioning to the closer role. Adding Hudson to that could be fun to watch.