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.

Shooty Babitt back with A's as pro scout: 'It's fairy tale-ish for me'


Shooty Babitt back with A's as pro scout: 'It's fairy tale-ish for me'

Former Oakland second baseman and current NBC Sports California analyst Shooty Babitt has rejoined the A's organization as a full-time scout.

Babitt, 59, has been an MLB scout for 25 years, including the last 12 with the New York Mets. He has also scouted for the Diamondbacks and Braves.

"I'm so thankful and so grateful," Babitt told NBC Sports California. "I don't think I have enough words in my vocabulary to express myself. I'm just thankful that people have trust in me to give me this opportunity."

Babitt was drafted by the A's in the 25th round of the 1977 MLB Draft. He played 54 games in 1981, batting .256 with a double, three triples, and 14 RBI,  finishing fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.

"I know it's kind of corny, but it's fairy tale-ish for me," Shooty said. "I'm a local kid who grew up idolizing players on the field at the Oakland Coliseum. Bert Campaneris and I share the same birthday. He was one of my idols growing up. I got drafted by the A's out of high school. I played in the big leagues for the A's."

In addition to scouting for the A's, Babitt will continue in his role as an analyst for NBC Sports California.

Why Manny Machado to A's not worth it with giant contract and headache

Why Manny Machado to A's not worth it with giant contract and headache

Let's be clear right from the start: The A's aren't signing Manny Machado. His projected $300 million-plus contract doesn't quite fit into Oakland's budget.

The question we want to examine is whether he'd really even improve the team.

There's no denying Machado's talent. The free agent third baseman/shortstop is one of the best all-around players in baseball. He already has been in four All-Star Games at the young age of 25, with a career slash line of .282/.335/.487. Last season, he tallied 37 home runs and 107 RBI with a .905 OPS.

But let's not forget, the A's have a pretty good third baseman and shortstop of their own. Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien form arguably the best defensive duo of any left side of the infield, and they can both swing the bat pretty well, too.

Chapman, 25, slashed .278/.356/.508 in his first full season, belting 24 home runs, 42 doubles and 68 RBI. Semien, 28, added 15 homers and 70 RBI after blasting a career-high 27 round-trippers two years ago.

Most importantly, the A's have a unique chemistry that was vital to their success last season. Machado is far from the most well-liked guy in the league, and adding him could hurt the clubhouse atmosphere.

Part of what makes the A's so special is that no one has an ego. Even veteran stars such as Khris Davis and Jed Lowrie carry a team-first mentality and don't care about the spotlight.

Machado, on the other hand, has openly admitted to not hustling in playoff games, and he has pulled some questionable -- if not dirty -- maneuvers on the base path. He also doesn't have the greatest history with the A's.

To reiterate, Machado unquestionably is a special talent. There's a reason he'll likely get more than $300 million in free agency. But baseball is a funny game. Individual numbers don't always translate to team success.

Oakland has something special in its clubhouse, and there is no reason to mess with that. Chapman and Semien have earned the right to hold down their side of the infield for years to come.

Editor's note: This week across the NBC Sports Regional Networks, we'll be taking an in-depth look at some of the top free agents in baseball. Wednesday is dedicated to free agent infielder Manny Machado.
Why Machado doesn't fit with Giants
Would Machado fit with rebuilding White Sox? 
Machado's talent worth betting on for Phillies
Yankees signing Machado would put pressure on Red Sox