Athletics

Scott Boras Q&A: Baseball super-agent on Matt Chapman, Oakland market

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Scott Boras Q&A: Baseball super-agent on Matt Chapman, Oakland market

OAKLAND -- Scott Boras is arguably the most influential person in all of baseball.
 
The legendary agent has negotiated some of the largest contracts in Major League Baseball history, representing names like Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Stephen Strasburg.
 
Boras also represents a few Oakland A's, including Matt Chapman and Sean Manaea, as well as the franchise's newest prospect, 2019 first-round draft pick Logan Davidson.
 
NBC Sports California caught up with Boras earlier this week:
 
NBC Sports California: A's first-round draft pick Logan Davidson graduated from Clemson in just three years, while playing baseball. How impressed were you by his work ethic?

Scott Boras: Yeah, the discipline, the aptitude -- that's a rare one. He's sitting there in the Cape (Cod League) where a lot of guys are kind of enjoying their summers, and he was taking accounting and doing everything because his plan was, "I'm going to only be here for three years of school. I'm going to put myself in a position to be a first-round draft pick and graduate from college." That's a tall order for most even gifted athletes and Logan achieved it all, which says so much about how he was raised. He's a very impressive person. He really is.
 
The A's were both surprised and excited that Davidson was still on the board for them to draft. They seem to think he has a very high ceiling. What type of potential do you see from him?
I was here five years ago and I had that feeling in my stomach about a particular player named Matt Chapman. He was not taken where I thought he should have been taken in the draft. On the other hand, I was really happy about it because the A's development system does a great job. Every player we've had in it, we've had great success with it. So it's kind of a blessing in disguise where I think the door is wide open for (Davidson). I also think that being a switch hitter and being the defensive player he is, he kind of holds the key to the next level for himself. If he plays well at every level, I think he can get to the big leagues in very short order, like (Chapman) did.
 
Speaking of Matt Chapman, has he exceeded even your expectations with how quickly he's become one of the elite players in baseball?
You know, Matt, his junior year in college hit six home runs. We really saw something develop the last six or seven weeks in his college program where he was working on his swing and he was getting loaded earlier. I think the A's scouting staff -- Eric Kubota and the group -- did a great job of seeing what potential he had. Defensively, there's no better arm in the game and no better glove. He's just a remarkable, unique defensive player.
 
For him to develop the way he has, being a middle of the lineup bat and being a great defender, I can't say that we thought he was going to be as elite as he turned out to be, because he's really one of the top players in the game. But on the other side of it, we certainly thought that, from where he was drafted, he should have been picked much higher.
 
Chapman is under team control through 2023. Have there been any talks regarding an extension and what do you see as the potential for him to stay in Oakland long-term?
Well, you know, these are always ownership decisions. Obviously, Matt's got four years here remaining after this year. The Oakland market -- of course, I was raised here so I know it a little bit better -- but I just think it's going to be a very important part of Major League Baseball going forward. And why is because the city is transforming. The corporate markets, the international market -- I believe that Major League Baseball in Japan and Korea are going to interact with one another because there are 120 million people in Japan and another 70 million in Korea. If you can imagine franchises have 30-35 million people to draw off of, you could put five franchises there. And just think of the markets that you would have in the game.
 
So when you look at the West Coast and you look at the Oakland area, the Bay Area is 9 or 10 million now. It's going to grow to be maybe 13 or 14 million as we go. Oakland is just basically becoming a very, very different place than it was. So for a major league franchise, a new stadium, if you can get the definition of the city to stay in line with the major league franchise, I think you have a synergy that will allow this whole process to be something akin to what we saw happen with the Giants when they moved from Candlestick to their new stadium. They went from 18 or 20 thousand fans to 40 thousand fans a game.
 
We've got owners who I think are creative. They have an intention to do that. It takes a state and city fathers to cooperate to do it right. But once you have that infrastructure built and there's a certainty to it, then players can look at this franchise differently. They can look at it as something that's going to be a major part of a major population base, much akin to when the Giants and Dodgers moved here for those very same reasons. You saw the evolution of other franchises in California -- in San Diego and Anaheim -- and really the A's to take advantage of something that we know is a known in the area.
 
For players to look at this franchise the way it should be looked at, you need those definitive points in place. You need the ownership to do things in advance of all that happening so that the timing of having great players and having a stadium all hits simultaneously. Then players start to (be attracted) to the franchise. You not only keep your major league stars, you start getting the players you draft and develop to stay, and then the entire culture changes.

[RELATED: Chapman remains open to talk long-term deal]
 
Sean Manaea is getting closer to a return following arthroscopic shoulder surgery last September. How impressive was he last season, especially knowing now that he wasn't 100 percent?
When you see left-handers in the major leagues -- like (Hyun-jin) Ryu made a major jump -- what we try to do on a comfort side is get them to not focus on anything other than command of their pitches. As you get the deception and the command -- and we have Dallas Keuchel, or that type of pitcher -- where you get soft contact, you're going to get a lot of groundballs, you're going to be very durable because you don't really need the wear and tear of big (velocity) to get outs.
 
Sean falls into that category. And we're so pleased because I know when a guy has (surgery) and he's throwing in the bullpen, once he gets back to 88, 89 (mph), it looks like we're going to get a really successful result. So we're excited about his evolution and what's going to happen here, and hopefully, he can get back and contribute real soon. He's obviously somebody who can be in the upper part of the rotation.

Peter Gammons suggests A's could trade Marcus Semien in near future

Peter Gammons suggests A's could trade Marcus Semien in near future

Marcus Semien enjoyed a career-year in just about every way imaginable this past season. The Cal product had a dream season in every sense of the word for the A's. 

But how long will the Bay Area native's tenure last in Oakland? History suggests Semien's time with the A's could be running out, which makes longtime baseball writer Peter Gammons believe the star shortstop might be on the move in the near future. 

"David Forst and Billy Beane love this A's team ... they especially love Semien, who's the leader of this team," Gammons said Wednesday on MLB Network. "He's a local guy, he was born in Berkeley right down the road. But, we still don't know what's gonna happen with the ballpark.

"It's fine to say eventually we're gonna get it, but by the time they actually get the ballpark opened, Marcus is gonna be old enough to run for president, so he might not be interested in staying in Oakland." 

Harsh but possibly true. The A's are, however, a step closer to getting a new stadium built in Oakland. On Nov. 13, the Oakland City Council directed the City Attorney to immediately drop Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, paving the way for the sale of the Coliseum.

"We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit," A's President Dave Kaval said in a team statement. "We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously had warned Oakland officials in October to drop the lawsuit for fear of losing the team to relocation.

The A's plan to open a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square for the 2023 season. Semien would be 32 years old by then, and certainly could still be putting up huge numbers. 

This past season, Semien played in all 162 games and had career-highs across the board. He hit .285 with 33 homers, finished third in AL MVP voting and was worth 8.1 bWAR. While Semien's breakout year at the plate was huge, his improvement on defense was even more incremental. Semien used to be a detriment to the A's at shortstop, but he was a Gold Glove finalist last season. 

"Somewhere along the line, he's gonna be a fascinating person either for the future of the A's or for somebody else in the future," Gammons said.

Semien is expected to earn nearly $14 million in arbitration this offseason and becomes a free agent after next season. Signing Semien to a long-term contract would energize the fan base and help the product on the field. As we've seen many times in the past, however, it's not that easy with the A's. 

[RELATED: Where A's MVP finalist Marcus Semien wants to improve]

“That’s a first-world problem when your shortstop is pricing himself out of your market,” Beane told NBC Sports California in September.

The ball's in your court, Billy. The A's will have to pay up for Semien's services in the near future or once again face the disappointment of their fans.

A's DFA RHP Jharel Cotton, add Daulton Jefferies to 40-man roster

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A's DFA RHP Jharel Cotton, add Daulton Jefferies to 40-man roster

Jharel Cotton made 24 starts for the A's in 2017. After two years ravaged from injuries, the right-hander was designated for assignment on Wednesday. 

The A's DFA'd Cotton to make room on the 40-man roster for pitching prospect Daulton Jefferies. 

Cotton, 27, went 2-0 with a 2.15 ERA over five starts as a rookie in 2016. He looked like someone primed to have a place in the rotation for years to come. But he struggled with his command and had a 5.58 ERA in 2017. 

Cotton underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2018, and looked to make his return to the big leagues this past season. He missed all of June with a hamstring injury while rehabbing in the minors, and never found his rhythm on the mound.

Over 18 minor league outings -- 14 in Triple-A, four in Advanced Single-A -- Cotton pitched just 27 2/3 innings in 2019. He finished 1-3 with a 7.16 ERA. 

The A's will be on the hunt for pitching depth this offseason, but Cotton likely will not be a part of the future anymore. 

Oakland added Jefferies to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The Cal product put up big numbers in his first full season since Tommy John surgery. 

Jefferies, 24, underwent the surgery in 2017 after two games and tossed only two innings of Rookie ball in 2018. He was back to healthy this season and showed why he's one of the A's top prospects. 

[RELATED: Five relievers A's could target during MLB free agency]

Between Advanced Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland, Jeffries went 2-2 with a 3.42 ERA this past season. He appeared in 26 games -- 15 starts -- and struck out 93 batters in 79 innings. 

Jefferies is ranked as the A's No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, and could possibly push for his MLB debut in 2020.