Athletics

A's rookie Ramon Laureano emerging as five-tool player

A's rookie Ramon Laureano emerging as five-tool player

OAKLAND — Over the years, the term “five-tool player” has been reserved only for a select few in baseball. It might be time to add A's rookie Ramón Laureano to that list.

In less than big-league games, the outfielder has already displayed all five tools: Hitting for average, hitting for power, speed, fielding ability, and throwing ability. On Friday, the 24-year-old rookie belted two more home runs, becoming the first player in A's history with two multi-homer games within the first 30 games of his career.

“It's pretty cool,” Laureano said with a smile after the A's beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 on Friday. “I just want to focus on moving forward. All those kinds of accolades, I'll reflect on in the offseason, but I just want to keep moving forward.”

Former A's sluggers Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco needed 13 and 14 more games, respectively, than Laureano to accomplish the feat. That wasn't lost on A's manager Bob Melvin. 

“That is very impressive based on the fact that you've been running McGwires, Cansecos, Khris Davises, Reggie Jacksons, and all those guys through this organization,” Melvin said. “So it means he's off to a nice start.”

Laureano is off to more than a nice start, slashing .309/.387/568 with five home runs, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. And that's just on offense.

We've already seen Laureano make several highlight-reel catches, and arguably one of the greatest throws in MLB history.

“He has all the tools,” Melvin said. “I think we probably need to wait a little while before we classify him as a five-tool player, but the physical presence [is there]. He's able to throw, he's got some power obviously, and he runs really well. He may be on his way to [being] one of those guys.”

Becoming "one of those guys" is a clear goal, even though the 23-year-old is in just his fifth professional season

“I take pride in that,” Laureano said of becoming a five-tool player. “But at the same time, I just see the present, work on what I need to do for that day, and if it happens, it happens.”

Melvin moved Laureano to the leadoff spot the last two games, and it has paid off in a big way. Laureano went 2-for-5 Wednesday with a pair of doubles. On Friday, he was 2-for-4 with the two home runs.

“For the couple of games we've put him in there, he's taken it to another level,” Melvin said. “He's swinging the bat really well. He hits one out to left and hits one out to right. He's on a roll right now.”

“[I took p]retty much the same approach,” Laureano said of his homers. “Get a good pitch to hit. I got it and didn't miss it. That simple.”

It's not really that simple for everyone, but right now, Laureano is making everything look easy. That is great news for the A's.

A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

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A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

A's closer Liam Hendriks is one of three finalists for the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Hendriks is joined by Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The NL finalists are Josh Hader, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates.

Hendriks, 30, enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The right-hander notched 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, an A's franchise record for relievers, compared to just 21 walks.

Hendriks took over closing duties from Blake Treinen in the middle of the season and finished with 25 saves, along with eight holds. His 124 punchouts led AL relief pitchers and his 1.80 ERA ranked second among AL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Osuna posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Chapman finished with a 2.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 85 in 57 innings.

[RELATED: Hendriks' energy a big part of A's success]

The voting will be conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relief pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Both the AL and NL awards will be presented on October 26, before Game 4 of the World Series.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

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Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.