What A's can learn from previous MLB free agency bargains


What A's can learn from previous MLB free agency bargains

Billy Beane and the A's have made a habit of finding productive under-the-radar free agents to sign at a reasonable price.

This past season was no different, with tremendous contributions from Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Jonathan Lucroy, and Nick Martini.

With free agency underway this offseason, we look back at five successful A's bargain deals over the last several seasons to see if there is anything to learn. We'll define "bargain" as $5 million or less, so Lucroy just misses the cut at $6.5 million.

Dec. 1, 2011: Brandon Moss

The A's signed Moss to a minor league contract after the 2011 season and he proceeded to slash .291/.358/.596 in 2012. He launched 21 home runs in just 84 games, driving in 52 runs.

Moss went on to have two more stellar seasons in Oakland, even making the All-Star Game in 2014.

Jan. 24, 2012: Bartolo Colon

Oakland signed Colon to a one-year deal worth $2 million dollars, along with some incentive bonuses. Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 2012 before being suspended for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The A's gave him another chance in 2013, bringing him back for $3 million, and Colon made it worth their while. The right-hander finished the season 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and was named an All-Star for the third time in his career.

Jan. 26, 2012: Jonny Gomes

Gomes signed a one-year deal with the A's worth just $1 million and put together a strong season in 2012. In 99 games, Gomes slashed .262/.377/.491 with 18 home runs and 47 RBI.

March 19, 2018: Trevor Cahill

The A's signed Cahill to a one-year, $1.5 million contract and the right-hander proved to be a pleasant surprise in 2018. Cahill finished the season 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 21 appearances, including 20 starts.

June 6, 2018: Edwin Jackson

Oakland signed Jackson to a minor-league deal with the 2018 season already underway. The veteran right-hander was soon called up to the big leagues, where he went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts.

CC Sabathia hosts 52 Oakland Boys & Girls Club kids at A's-Yankees game

CC Sabathia hosts 52 Oakland Boys & Girls Club kids at A's-Yankees game

OAKLAND -- New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia welcomed 52 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Oakland to the Coliseum on Tuesday night for the A's-Yankees game.

The Vallejo native is winding down his 19th and final season in the majors. The 39-year-old has been hosting Boys & Girls Club kids on the road at each of his final stops in the American League.

"It's been a lot of fun to get in front of these kids," Sabathia told NBC Sports California. "With me growing up in Vallejo and being a Boys & Girls Club kid, knowing what those kids are going through, I think it will be a lot of fun to be able to get in front of them and have a conversation."

Sabathia was part of the Continentals of Omega Boys & Girls Club in Vallejo from the first grade through the eighth grade. Now he relishes the opportunity to give back to today's youngsters.

"I just wanted to do something special for the kids," Sabathia said. "I grew up a Boys & Girls Club kid. My first experience at a baseball game was with the Boys & Girls Club. Hopefully, we can have that for some of these kids around the country."

Sabathia has a career record of 251-160 with a 3.73 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He won the 2007 Cy Young Award, is six-time All-Star and has a strong case to reach the Baseball Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: Why Bailey's splitter is so critical to his success]

Though he now lives in New Jersey, Sabathia's family still resides in the Bay Area and he says he will always consider the East Bay home.

"It's always fun to be able to come here," he smiled. "I come here a lot, whether it's Oracle Arena to watch the Warriors, being here to watch the Raiders, or playing here against the A's. It's my home stadium."

A's Homer Bailey relies on splitter in shutting down mighty Yankees

A's Homer Bailey relies on splitter in shutting down mighty Yankees

OAKLAND -- When Homer Bailey dominated the Giants his last time out, it was certainly impressive, but it came with the caveat of facing a weak lineup. There was no such caveat Tuesday night.

Bailey shut down the league-leading New York Yankees for 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run with eight strikeouts, as the A's took the series opener, 6-2. Most notably, seven of Bailey's eight strikeouts came on his splitter.

"I thought he was great," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He had a really good split again tonight. It keeps you off balance. He can go up top with his heater and the breaking ball is just enough. It was another night where he had a really good split. It pairs off his fastball really well."

Bailey, 33, utilized the split early and often, throwing it on 32 of his 108 pitches. The right-hander made the powerful Bronx Bombers look silly, chasing pitches well out of the zone.

"It was (working well)," Bailey said. "I think just kind of understanding how I need to throw it -- the pressure points and the speeds -- it's just something that's been working really well for me and it's complemented by the other pitches."

Bailey's splitter was effective his last start against the Giants as well, resulting in three strikeouts, two groundouts, and a flyout, without a single hit.

"It looks pretty nasty," said A's first baseman Matt Olson, who went 2-for-3 with his 26th home run of the season. "The guys I've talked to say it's pretty good. It looks like a true tumble splitter, which is definitely a tough pitch to hit. Not many people have the true split. He was obviously on tonight."

When Bailey's splitter is on, it also makes his other pitches more effective. He fooled several Yankees hitters with his fastball because it comes out of the same arm slot as the split.

Said Melvin: "It allows him to pitch up and down. He can elevate with his fastball and the split kind of comes out of the same plane. Then he can throw his slider and sinker and kind of go side to side just enough. When he's throwing strikes and getting ahead and he has that pitch, as we've seen since he's been here, he can be a tough customer."

[RELATED: Melvin, A's unafraid to use rookie pitcher Puk in big spot]

The A's have now won five of Bailey's seven starts since acquiring him from the Reds. His last two outings were probably his best and should go a long way toward keeping him in the starting rotation for the rest of the season.