Athletics

What Rays players think of reported Tampa Bay-Montreal split proposal

kiermaierusatsi.jpg
USATSI

What Rays players think of reported Tampa Bay-Montreal split proposal

OAKLAND -- The entire baseball world is talking about Thursday's bombshell report that the Rays are exploring the possibility of splitting home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal.

The plan is still in the very early stages and wouldn't be a possibility until the Rays' current lease at Tropicana Field runs out in 2027. The franchise has spent the last decade unsuccessfully attempting to get a new stadium built in the Tampa Bay area.

With the Rays are in Oakland this weekend for a four-game series against the A's, Tampa Bay's current players were just as surprised by Thursday's news as everyone else.

Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier learned of the report via text message: "I had to read it a couple of times, where I'm like, 'What?' And then next thing you see the headlines and everyone's heads are blowing off right now. It's different. You hear about many different headlines in baseball. This is definitely one that I don't know if it's ever happened before, just with the proposed plan, I guess you could say. We'll just have to wait back and see what comes about it."

Former A's infielder Joey Wendle, now with the Rays, hasn't had much time to process the report. But, he did note some potential issues from a player's standpoint.

"It's certainly a new concept," Wendle told NBC Sports California. "I've never heard of anything quite like that proposed before. I think there would probably be some challenges logistically, in terms of how we get places where we live. A lot of us have families with children, so that adds a whole 'nother level of difficulty. It's not a decision that's going to come down to me, ultimately. But it's definitely an interesting proposition."

Rays reliever Emilio Pagán, another former Athletic, also struggled to digest what this type of plan would mean for players.

"I honestly have no idea," he said. "I love being in Tampa. I don't know how soon it could possibly happen. I haven't even really thought about it much -- because the news came out today -- as to what the challenges would be. I'm sure it would be tough. But I'm sure also that the people making those decisions have thought about those tough decisions that would have to come. That's way above my pay grade. I'll worry about trying to get as many outs as I can."

Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg released the following statement on Thursday: "My priority remains the same, I am committed to keeping baseball in Tampa Bay for generations to come. I believe this concept is worthy of serious exploration."

[RELATED: Scott Boras on Oakland market, Chapman's future, much more]

The idea of two cities sharing a professional sports team actually isn't entirely new. In 2003, the Montreal Expos played 22 home games in Puerto Rico. In the NBA, Omaha and Kansas City shared the Kings from 1972-75.

"It's crazy to think about," Kiermaier said. "If it happens, it does. People adjust. They always will."

MLB rumors: A's in talks with Stephen Vogt's agent during free agency

vogtgiantsus.jpg
USATSI

MLB rumors: A's in talks with Stephen Vogt's agent during free agency

Stephen Vogt could be staying in the Bay Area after all. But the catcher might choose a reunion over the option to continue wearing a Giants jersey.

The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reported Monday morning that the A's have contacted the agent for the free-agent catcher.

Vogt, 35, proved to be fully healthy after what was once seen as potentially career-threatening shoulder surgery. After missing the entire 2018 season, Vogt was one of the Giants' most reliable bats this past season. 

The veteran catcher signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February, and went on to be a steal for San Francisco. He played in 99 games, hitting .263 with 10 homers and 40 RBI as a spot starter and backup to Buster Posey. Vogt also played seven games in left field last season. 

Vogt became somewhat of a cult hero over his four-and-a-half seasons in Oakland. He broke through as a 30-year-old for the A's in 2015 when he made his first of back-to-back All-Star Game appearances. 

The left-handed hitting catcher had a .255 batting average with 49 homers in 458 games with the A's. Even as someone who turned 35 on Nov. 1, he could be the perfect fit for an Oakland reunion. 

Adding Vogt likely would be the end of the Josh Phegley era. The A's have one of the best young catchers in the game in Sean Murphy, and could pair the 25-year-old right-handed hitter with Vogt, a veteran lefty. 

[RELATED: Vogt's championship desires might hinder Giants return in 2020]

Vogt could start games here and there behind the dish, as well as at DH, play left field and even first base, while being an incredibly serviceable bat off the bench. He hit .325 with two homers in 43 games off the bench for the Giants last season.

At this stage of his career, Vogt has one thing on his mind: A World Series ring. The A's could fit his desires while keeping him in the Bay Area on the team that truly gave him his first chance.

MLB free agency: Why reliever Daniel Hudson, A's might be good fit

hudsonusatsi.jpg
USATSI

MLB free agency: Why reliever Daniel Hudson, A's might be good fit

It's free agency time, baseball fans -- you know what that means. Well, if history has a way of repeating itself, it means some lulls in the winter months.

For now, we get to speculate and dissect rumors as they come. For the A's, that means concentrating on pitching acquisitions. 

Every team needs pitching whether they're starving for it or not. Oakland is no different, but they have a tendency to concentrate on bullpen arms and are willing to pay up as MLB.com's Mark Feinsand points out. 

Daniel Hudson is one of Feinsand's pitching free-agent targets for the A's and for good reason.

The 10-year veteran was a big part of the World Series champion Washington Nationals' success as he recorded the final out of the Fall Classic. His 2019 campaign had him boasting a 1.44 ERA in 24 games and 23 strikeouts in 25 innings. If you're into pitching wins (some of you are, it's OK to admit it) he was undefeated last season with a 3-0 record.

[RELATEDJesús Luzardo intriguing candidate for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Hudson never wanted the closing spot, he believed it was too much pressure, because of his ability to throw too many strikes and allowing too much contact. Hudson more than made up for those doubts in himself, but knowing he could potentially be a set-up man and assist in the closing department if needed could benefit the A's.

Liam Hendriks did a fabulous job last season transitioning to the closer role. Adding Hudson to that could be fun to watch.