Athletics

A's would love to see Japanese star Ohtani land in National League

ohtani_ap_.jpg
AP

A's would love to see Japanese star Ohtani land in National League

Update: Shohei Ohtani agreed to sign with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday morning 

The A’s only made a cameo appearance in the Shohei Ohtani chase, but they’ve got plenty of interest in where the young Japanese star lands.

Three of Oakland’s American League West rivals are among the final seven teams in the running to sign Ohtani — the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers. Ohtani supposedly prefers the West Coast, and the Mariners acquired some extra international bonus pool money Thursday which could help sweeten their offer for him.

A’s general manager David Forst understandably is rooting hard for Ohtani to sign somewhere outside of the AL West.

“We’re watching with curiosity just like you guys are, hoping he ends up (in the National League) as opposed to somebody we face 19 times a year,” Forst said on a media conference call Thursday.

The A’s were among the majority of major league teams that spent time putting together a detailed presentation to pitch their team to Ohtani, as was requested by the player’s representatives. Forst summed up the A’s pursuit succinctly:

“We were involved for a couple days until we were told we weren’t.”

That was the case for all interested clubs outside of the lucky seven. So the A’s now shift their focus to the upcoming winter meetings, which get started Monday and run for four days at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Topping the A’s agenda is acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Forst said he’s engaged in trade dialogue regarding outfielders but wasn’t predicting whether a deal gets done in Orlando.

“There are things we’ve been working on and maybe they’ve been somewhat held up by what’s going on,” Forst said. “I can’t tell you we’ll walk out of the Swan and Dolphin with an outfielder, but it’s something we’ve looked into.”

The delays Forst referred to are the unresolved situations regarding Giancarlo Stanton and Ohtani. There’s a sentiment that once those two players land somewhere, it will pave the way for more transactions to start happening in what’s so far been a slow offseason of activity around the majors.

An informed source indicated the A’s are indeed eyeing Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who they’ve been linked to in previous reports. But St. Louis is competing with the Giants and perhaps the Dodgers to complete a trade with the Marlins for Stanton. Should the Cardinals get Stanton, it stands to reason they’d be more willing to deal Piscotty, who is under contract for the next five seasons at a very affordable $29.5 million.

The A’s plan to shift Khris Davis from left field to predominantly a DH role, and Forst said Oakland ideally would like someone who can play all three outfield spots. Piscotty happens to fit that bill, though he’s not their only option.

A lefty reliever is the other main item on the A’s wish list, though they’re also monitoring the starting pitching market.

On Thursday, they announced their two-year $10 million deal with one-time Giant reliever Yusmeiro Petit. He’s the second right-hander Oakland has added to the bullpen, joining Emilio Pagan, and Petit’s versatility was a big reason the A’s were interested in the 33-year-old.

“When you have a young starting staff and guys that have developing to do, (helping) them in the bullpen is a priority,” Forst said. “His ability to go multiple innings, go back-to-back days, spot start, all the things he’s done are incredibly valuable to us.”

To make room on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated for assignment second baseman Joey Wendle, who saw his opportunities decrease last season with the emergence of Chad Pinder and the top prospect status of Franklin Barreto.

Forst declined to address Wednesday’s news that the A’s negotiations to build a ballpark near Laney College fell through, other than to say the organization was “surprised.”

“We’re regrouping and figuring out the next step.”

A's in the thick of a playoff race headed into All-Star break

A's in the thick of a playoff race headed into All-Star break

What a difference a month makes.

On June 15, the A's lost to the Angels to fall to 34-36 on the season, 11 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot.

Fast forward to July 15, and Oakland owns the sixth-best record in all of baseball at 55-42, just three games behind the Mariners.

The A's enter the All-Star break winners of 21 of their last 27 games, and as serious playoff contenders. The question of whether Oakland would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline has been answered, emphatically. The A's are buyers.

"This group deserves a chance to stay together,” general manager David Forst told Jim Rome on his radio show. “They deserve a chance to play this thing out."

“I prefer to be a buyer and that’s what (we) are preparing to do,” Billy Beane said to The Athletic.

Don't expect the A's to make any huge additions - perhaps they'll add a starting pitcher or possibly another reliever - but simply holding on to veterans like Jed Lowrie, Khris Davis, and Blake Treinen is better than most fans expected at the start of the season. The current roster has already proven it doesn't need a ton of help.

“I think we're playing really confident baseball and making a charge here,” said outfielder Stephen Piscotty. “We're right there, so we're excited to keep going.”

“It's starting to get that feeling, that playoff vibe,” added Sunday's winning pitcher Sean Manaea.

So buckle up, A's fans. Your team is right in the middle of a playoff chase. It's time to start believing.

A's stay hot before break, take first phase of Bay Bridge Series

A's stay hot before break, take first phase of Bay Bridge Series

BOX SCORE 

SAN FRANCISCO -- Stephen Piscotty homered for the fifth time in nine games, and the Oakland Athletics beat the San Francisco Giants 6-2 on Sunday.

Sean Manaea allowed two runs in six innings for his fourth consecutive win. All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie walked and scored in his return to the lineup following a scary collision in right field two nights earlier for Oakland. Matt Chapman added two hits.

The surging A's have won nine of 12 and are 21-6 since June 16, the best record in the majors during that stretch.

All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford had two hits for the Giants, who lost a home series for the first time since dropping two of three at AT&T Park to Arizona from April 8-10.

Piscotty singled in Jed Lowrie in the fourth against starter Andrew Suarez (3-6) then homered off Reyes Moronta in the sixth. It is Piscotty's 12th this season and fifth this month, all of them coming since July 7.

Piscotty's hit in the fourth was the first of three consecutive RBI singles off Suarez. Matt Olson and Matt Chapman also drove in runs while Jonathan Lucroy added a sacrifice fly to put Oakland up 4-1.

Manaea (9-6) gave up five hits, including Chase d'Arnaud's second home run this season in the sixth. Manaea retired seven of the final eight he faced.

Ryan Buchter struck out the side in the seventh. Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen retired three batters apiece to complete the five-hitter.

Suarez allowed four runs in five innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Athletics: Lowrie had been nursing a bruised bone and calf bruise in his left leg after colliding with Piscotty in right field. . OF Matt Joyce (lumbar strain) received an epidural shot for his sore back. RHP Daniel Gossett (strained right elbow) began a throwing program.

Giants: RHP Jeff Samardzija was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation. It's Samardzija's third stint on the DL this season. IF Kelby Tomlinson was called up from Triple-A Sacramento and started at second base.

UP NEXT

Athletics: Return to the Coliseum to host the San Francisco in a three-game series beginning Friday. It's the first time since 1986 that the A's have played six consecutive games against the same team.

Giants: Head across the Bay to play three games in Oakland. No rotation has been announced for the series.