Athletics

Why A's crowded outfield means there could be opportunity for trade

Why A's crowded outfield means there could be opportunity for trade

After last week's signing of 29-year-old Robbie Grossman, the A's find themselves with eight outfielders battling for three spots.

Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano should have right and center field locked down, which leaves six players -- Grossman, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Franklin Barreto, and Dustin Fowler -- vying for playing time in left.

While a team can never have too much depth, the A's still have other areas of need -- namely starting pitching. So it's worth asking, could a trade be in the works?

Barreto and Fowler probably carry the most value in a potential trade due to their youth and upside. Barreto, 22, has long been considered one of Oakland's top prospects, and despite limited playing time at the Major League level, he has shown flashes of his tremendous natural ability at the plate.

Fowler, 24, struggled in his first season with the A's last year, but performed extremely well in Triple-A, slashing.341/.364/.520 in 55 games. His short swing should eventually allow him to hit for a high average, and he has surprising natural power, not to mention plus speed.

Pinder and Canha also have some trade value. Pinder's versatility makes him an attractive option for any team. The 26-year-old can play any position besides pitcher and catcher (and he claims he can do those too). Pinder also has outstanding power, as he showed when he belted home runs of 460 feet and 448 feet in 2017.

Canha, 30, destroys left-handed pitching. Last season, he hit .282/.337/.604 with 13 home runs in 149 at-bats against southpaws. That makes him an excellent platoon option for any club.

[RELATED: Grading the A's offseason with spring training underway]

Martini and Grossman probably have the least trade value, but that should be just fine with A's fans. Martini, 28, hit .296 last season with an incredible .397 on-base percentage. Grossman wasn't far behind with a .273 batting average and .367 OBP. They are both excellent options in left field for Oakland.

Of course, the A's could elect to keep all eight outfielders to start the season and see how it plays out on the field. But don't be surprised if they move one or two of them in the next few months, especially if it means shoring up the starting rotation.

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's reported to spring training on time Monday morning for the preseason’s first full-squad engagement. This group, as assembled, is stacked.

It doesn’t take advanced stats experts to see the 2020 crew is loaded with talent, depth and the superstars required to improve upon back-to-back 97-win seasons. That’s even true in an improved AL West and at a point on the calendar where hope springs eternal.

Manager Bob Melvin was quick to point to another reason for extreme optimism this season.

It starts with the A's superstars setting a proper tone throughout the organization. Their work ethic, Melvin said, proves contagious.

“We have a bunch of guys like that, whether it’s Matt Olson or Matt Chapman or Marcus Semien, those guys set the tone for how we do things around here,” Melvin said Monday morning. “When you have younger players coming up or new players coming in and they see how our top guys work, they have no choice to work the same way.

"It’s great when your best players are the hardest workers.”

Those players can absolutely mash. That was clear during the first full-squad workout. Several have been around taking swings in recent days but seeing so many established veterans alternating through the cages around Lew Wolff Training Complex certainly creates belief the A's can score with anybody in 2020. Pair that with a legit frontline starting rotation and All-Star closer Liam Hendricks and even Melvin can see a clear path to great things this season.

Melvin has been around a long time and managed a lot of good baseball teams. His expectations for this group are sky high. He made that clear in his opening speech to the full squad here in major league camp.

“We always discuss in our first meeting what our goals and expectations are,” Melvin said. “We try to keep those to ourselves but, when you have two seasons with 97 wins and 97 wins and you feel like we have a better team this year, yeah I think our expectations are pretty high.”

[RELATED: Why Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team]

Vegas oddsmakers set the over-under line at 89.5 wins for these A's, a significant sum that would put them back in serious contention for a third straight postseason berth. They’ll be gunning for a division title after two straight wild-card berths where the season died out in a one-game playoff.

This largely established group is focused on staying healthy and intact for when the games actually count. That doesn’t mean they’re content to sit back this spring and wait for good times to roll. The grind continues for the entire team as it works to become more versatile.

The A's are placing emphasis on situational hitting this spring, possible going against the grain for a team that as historically liked walks and big blasts.

That will be important in working through offensive slumps like the A’s experienced near last season’s end.

“You can bludgeon teams at times, but there will be times where we go through offensive droughts as a team,” Melvin said. “The defense is always going to be there, but if we can win some games situationally by getting guys over and getting guys in by putting some focus on that, the team will be better because of it.

"We’ll continue to emphasize that.”

Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

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USATSI

Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

Mark Canha, like many A's players, quietly fell under the radar last season. The recently-turned 31-year-old hit a career-high 26 home runs, yet nobody seemed to mention his name. 

One person, at least, did notice. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince named Canha to his All-Underrated Team going into the 2020 season. Canha is Castrovince's center fielder, though he mostly will play in left for the A's with Ramon Laureano healthy. 

Canha actually played four positions in 2019: 56 games in center, 27 games in right field, 15 games at first base and 10 games in left. The Cal alum also served as Oakland's DH in 16 games. 

Along with a career-best in homers, Canha posted career highs along his .273/.396/.517 slash line. He also produced a .913 OPS and 145 OPS+.

Canha's versatility once again will be key for Bob Melvin's squad this season. Melvin has a plethora of outfield options in Canha, Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Robbie Grossman, Chad Pinder and more. 

[RELATED: Manfred believes Fiers did 'service' revealing Astros scandal]

Perhaps none of the above bring more to the table than Canha, though. 

As the A's look to move past the AL Wild Card Game this year, the San Jose native figures to be a reliable asset yet again.