Athletics

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

A's trade former 2B prospect Joey Wendle, who never got a chance to blossom

The A’s swung a trade on the first day of the Winter Meetings, but it wasn’t the type of swap that’s been anticipated.

Oakland dealt second baseman Joey Wendle to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The storyline for the rest of the week is whether the A’s complete a deal for their biggest target— a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.

They weren’t involved in heavy dialogue Monday as the four-day Winter Meetings opened at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla. But they’re on the lookout for an outfielder that will allow them to shift Khris Davis from left field to designated hitter.

Billy Beane, the A’s head of baseball operations, reiterated to reporters that the team ideally wants to acquire an outfielder who’s under team control for multiple years. The Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty fits that bill and is known to be a primary target, but the A’s have been linked to others too, including Miami’s Marcell Ozuna.

If a trade doesn’t pan out, Beane didn’t rule out the possibility of signing a free agent outfielder, but the focus is trading for one who’s signed to an affordable contract. Beyond that, the A’s seek a left-handed reliever to continue fortifying a bullpen they’ve already added to this offseason.

“We were pretty specific with who and what we want, whether it be a free agent or a trade,” Beane said of the team’s approach to the meetings. “There’s a few free agents we have interest in, a trade here and there. And if we don’t get them, we’ll just wait for the offseason” to continue.

Wendle, who saw slices of big league time in 2016 and 2017, was originally acquired from Cleveland for Brandon Moss during the 2014 Winter Meetings. He drew some comparisons to Mark Ellis for both his style of play and work ethic but found himself blocked at second base despite an impressive big league debut in September 2016.

He hit .260 that month in 28 games, and though that average doesn’t stand out, he impressed defensively and proved to be a spark plug hitting leadoff, drawing praise from manager Bob Melvin. But a shoulder injury cost the 27-year-old Wendle valuable time in spring training last season and extended into the regular season. It didn’t help his cause that Chad Pinder emerged as a second base option and valuable utility man, and that Franklin Barreto — the A’s top-rated prospect — also arrived on the big league scene for stretches.

In addition, the A’s think highly of another up-and-coming second base prospect, Max Schrock. Acquired from Washington for reliever Marc Rzepczynski in August 2016, the 23-year-old Schrock opened the eyes of Melvin’s staff last spring and hit .321 for Double-A Midland in 2017.

Jed Lowrie, of course, is the A’s veteran incumbent at second base but is a logical trade candidate at any point given Barreto’s inevitable full-time arrival in the majors.

A's expect recent acquisition Tanner Anderson to help in rotation

tannerandersonathletics.jpg
Athletics PR/Twitter

A's expect recent acquisition Tanner Anderson to help in rotation

As the A's continue their search for starting pitching, they believe they may have found an under-the-radar option in a recent trade.

Oakland acquired 25-year-old right-hander Tanner Anderson from the Pirates last month in exchange for 18-year-old righty Wilkin Ramos.

Anderson spent most of last season in Triple-A where he went 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA and six saves in 39 relief appearances. In six Major League games, he was 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA.

Until last year, however, Anderson was a starting pitcher. In 2017, he made 19 starts in Double-A, going 10-8 with a 3.38 ERA. The A's would like him to be a starter once again.

"I told him to get ready as a starter," said general manager David Forst. "I'd like to think he could do that. If not, he's a guy who can go two, three, four innings at a time. He said he sees himself as a guy who can turn the lineup over more than once, so that could prove to be valuable."

[RELATED: A's, Edwin Jackson not close on negotiations]

If nothing else, we know Anderson is smart. He graduated from Harvard in 2015 and was selected by Pittsburgh in the 20th round of the MLB Draft.

Anderson is not a strikeout pitcher, but he does induce a high percentage of ground balls, with almost three times as many grounders as fly balls throughout his career. He features a low-to-mid 90s sinker as well as a mid-80s slider and does a great job limiting walks.

Even if Anderson doesn't earn a spot in Oakland's starting rotation, he could be a perfect candidate to pitch multiple innings in "opener" games. The A's love his versatility and, at the very least, he provides a backup plan for the rotation in the case of injuries.

Source: Edwin Jackson, A's not on same page in contract negotiations

Source: Edwin Jackson, A's not on same page in contract negotiations

The A's met with representatives for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson last week at the MLB Winter Meetings, but according to a source, the two sides are not close on potential salary figures.

Jackson, 35, would like to return to Oakland, but he also has drawn interest from about seven other teams, including the Mets, Reds and Blue Jays. The right-hander is coming off a phenomenal bounce-back season, in which he went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 17 starts. The A's compiled a record of 14-3 in those starts.

Most industry insiders believe Jackson is worth between $6 million and $8 million on a one-year contract, but Oakland has not yet come close to either of those numbers. Jackson might be willing to accept a slight discount to return to the A's, but he likely won't want to lower the market for other free-agent pitchers.

For reference, the Detroit Tigers recently signed right-hander Tyson Ross to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million in base salary and another $250,000 in easy incentives. Ross, 31, went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP last season, all significantly worse than Jackson's 2018 stats.

The Yankees signed left-hander CC Sabathia to a one-year, $8 million contract earlier this offseason. Sabathia, 38, went 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.31 WHIP last year.

While Jackson might have benefited from pitching in Oakland at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, his ERA actually was slightly better on the road. Overall, he limited opposing batters to a .227 batting average.

Much of Jackson's value also came in the clubhouse, where he quickly became one of the veteran leaders on the A's. He is widely considered one of the best personalities in baseball and an unselfish teammate.

The A's concern could lie in Jackson's limited innings last season. He threw just 92 frames at the big league level after starting the year in Triple A, and he has not thrown more than 100 innings since 2014.

[RELATED: A's in no hurry to sign starting pitchers]

It remains to be seen if the A's can come to terms with Jackson, but they do have some other options. Oakland reportedly has shown interest in a handful of free-agent starters, including Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz and Shelby Miller.

One way or another, the A's figure to add at least two more starting pitchers by the start of the season.