Athletics

Wendle's active winter takes him from Mexico to CBA meetings

Wendle's active winter takes him from Mexico to CBA meetings

As if Joey Wendle’s offseason wasn’t busy enough, he flew to Dallas this week to attend the Collective Bargaining Agreement meetings between the players’ association and Major League Baseball owners.

Wendle was one of five Athletics who were at the meetings, along with Yonder Alonso, John Axford, Daniel Coulombe and Andrew Triggs. That quintet didn’t play an active part in negotiations. But Wendle, a second baseman who received his first big league call-up in September, said it was time well spent as he made the effort to educate himself about baseball’s labor issues.

“It peaked my interest and I decided to come on out for a couple of days,” Wendle said while waiting to catch a flight back home to Pennsylvania. “I’m aware that we have probably the best sports union of any in the world. I just wanted to come see what it was all about.”

Wendle declined to discuss any of the major details in the CBA, saying he didn’t feel it was his position to comment as a player with so little service time. But he was proud that five A’s showed up, estimating it was among the largest contingent of players from any team.

Wendle, who used an impressive September to play his way into the second base picture, has been on the go since the regular season wrapped. He quickly went to Mexico to play winter ball with Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican League. Wendle played mostly second base, but, to his surprise, he also made a string of starts at shortstop early in the season. A shortstop who was originally in the team’s plans didn’t pan out, so Wendle found himself logging innings at a position he hadn’t played since high school.

That was OK with Wendle, who volunteered to play winter ball because he wanted to gain experience at another position besides second.

“When I went initially, I thought I’d play some third base,” Wendle said. “I showed up and they told me I’d be playing some shortstop. It’s something I got more familiar with as the games went on. I’m still most comfortable at second base. But anytime you can add a position and play the left side of the infield, it can help you as a player.”

A’s officials are happy with Wendle’s improvement defensively. His offensive numbers in his September call-up don’t jump off the page — .260, one homer, 11 RBI in 28 games — but he provided a spark for a stretch as the A’s leadoff hitter.

Wendle swung a hot bat during winter ball, hitting .307 with three homers and 25 RBI in 34 games. His 18 extra-base hits stand out for a player who had just two in his 28 games with Oakland.

“In that environment, I was able to focus on some areas I wanted to work on. I was able to take it on as a learning experience,” Wendle said.

Now, after an extended season that began back in February — plus a quick lesson in baseball labor relations — he’ll enjoy a well-deserved break.

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.