Athletics

Top five free agents A's should target during MLB hot stove

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USATSI

Top five free agents A's should target during MLB hot stove

The 2018 baseball season has come to an end, which means free agency is officially underway. Teams may submit qualifying offers to their own free agents during the next five days. Beginning Friday evening, non-contracted players are free to sign wherever they choose.

The A's have a handful of key free agents, including All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, relief pitchers Shawn Kelley and Jeurys Familia, and starters Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson.

For now, let's focus on potential outside additions. We have compiled a list of the top five realistic free agents Oakland should target. (Spoiler alert: they're all pitchers.)

Nathan Eovaldi

Improved starting pitching should be the top priority for the A's, and Eovaldi would be a great addition to the rotation. The 28-year-old helped the Red Sox to their World Series title, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in 22 1/3 innings this postseason.

In 22 regular season outings, Eovaldi was 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. The right-hander earned just $2 million, and while he figures to earn a significant raise, the A's shouldn't be scared off.

Eovaldi has a career ERA of 4.16 in seven seasons and is just entering his prime. With Sean Manaea out for most, if not all, of next season, and both Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk coming off Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi could slot in near the top of Oakland's rotation.

CC Sabathia

The Vallejo native is 38 years old but showed he still has something left in the tank, going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts with the Yankees this season.

A six-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner, Sabathia earned $10 million in 2018, but is unlikely to see that type of money as he nears 39. The big left-hander might even take a hometown discount to play for the A's, especially since they figure to be a playoff contender.

Sabathia could provide a solid number three or four starter in Oakland's rotation, not to mention being a fan favorite at the Coliseum.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Despite missing time with a groin injury, Ryu had an excellent season with the Dodgers. The 31-year-old southpaw went 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 15 starts, striking out 89 in 82 1/3 innings.

Ryu earned $7.8 million in the final season of a six-year contract and should garner an even higher salary in free agency. But with his talent and consistency, as well as his relative youth, he would be worth it for the A's.

In five Major League seasons, Ryu has a 3.20 career ERA. If he were to end up in green and gold, he would likely challenge Mike Fiers for the top spot in the A's rotation.

Jesse Chavez

The A's bullpen was terrific in 2018, but it will likely lose a couple of key pieces in Familia and Kelley. Chavez, a former A, went 5-2 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.06 WHIP this season between the Rangers and Cubs.

The 35-year-old has made a smooth transition from starter to reliever, notching 92 strikeouts this season, compared to just 17 walks.

Chavez earned $1.5 million and should be affordable for the A's. He could provide a nice sixth or seventh inning option for manager Bob Melvin.

Sergio Romo

The former Giant had a solid season in Tampa Bay, going 3-4 with 25 saves and a 4.14 earned run average.

Romo, 35, recorded 75 strikeouts against 20 walks in 67 1/3 innings. The veteran right-hander should also be affordable after earning $2.5 million in 2018.

Romo has already proven he can win in the Bay Area, capturing three World Series titles with the Giants. Oakland could certainly use his experience and versatility in the pen.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.