Oakland 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.

Grading the Oakland A's offseason with spring training fully underway

Grading the Oakland A's offseason with spring training fully underway

With spring training now in full swing, MLB's offseason has officially come to an end.

Of course, that doesn't mean teams are done wheeling and dealing. Some of the top names in the game (hello Bryce Harper and Manny Machado!) are still available on the free agent market.

From an A's perspective, the roster is at least close to complete, with the possible addition of one more starting pitcher. With that in mind, we attempt to grade Oakland's offseason.

Starting pitching

Additions: Marco Estrada, Parker Bridwell
Departures: Trevor Cahill, Kendall Graveman
Unsigned: Edwin Jackson

The A's identified starting pitching as their top priority this offseason. Unfortunately, they have not yet improved their rotation.

Oakland signed veteran right-hander Marco Estrada and claimed Parker Bridwell off waivers from the Angels, while losing Trevor Cahill, Kendall Graveman, and possibly Edwin Jackson, who remains unsigned.

The A's are counting on Estrada to be a top-end starter, despite coming off back-to-back subpar years in Toronto. While a bounce-back season is possible, it is far from a sure thing.

Oakland did re-sign Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson, and top prospect Jesús Luzardo will almost certainly earn a call-up at some point. The A's should also get injured pitchers Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and A.J. Puk back for the second half of the season.

Oakland would be wise to bring back Edwin Jackson or sign another reliable starter in that mold. As it currently stands, the A's rotation might be worse than it was last season.

Grade: D+ (Incomplete)

Bullpen

Additions: Joakim Soria, Jerry Blevins, Tanner Anderson
Departures: Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley, Cory Gearrin, Emilio Pagan

The A's relied heavily on their bullpen last year and it came through in a big way. With the return of All-Star closer Blake Treinen, along with several key setup relievers, Oakland's pen should once again be a strength of the team.

While the departures of Jeurys Familia and Shawn Kelley will hurt, adding Joakim Soria and Jerry Blevins should help negate those losses. The A's also return Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, Ryan Buchter, and Fernando Rodney, among others.

The decision to pick up Rodney's $5.25 million option remains a bit puzzling, especially with Kelley available for significantly less money. Nevertheless, Oakland's bullpen should once again rank near the top of the league.

Grade: B

Infield

Additions: Jurickson Profar, Chris Herrmann, Nick Hundley
Departures: Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy

The A's lost a lot of veteran leadership, not to mention production, in Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy. Oakland hopes that Jurickson Profar, Chris Herrmann, and Nick Hundley will help fill that void.

Lowrie amassed 23 home runs and 99 RBI last season, both career highs, with a .267/.353/.448 slash line. He was rewarded with a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets.

Profar is also coming off a career year, batting .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers and 77 RBI with the Rangers. The A's believe the 25-year-old will build on that success this season.

While Lucroy's offensive numbers weren't great last year, he did a masterful job with Oakland's pitching staff. Herrmann, Hundley, and Josh Phegley will try to replicate that success behind the plate. Still, the A's appear to have taken a slight step back on the infield.

Grade: C+

Outfield

Additions: Robbie Grossman
Departures: Matt Joyce

The A's weren't busy in the outfield this offseason and they didn't need to be. Oakland returns everyone from last year, except for Matt Joyce, who was not a factor anyway.

The addition of Robbie Grossman adds even more depth to an already strong outfield. Grossman slashed .273/.367/.384 last season with the Twins and has a career on-base percentage of .355.

If anything, the A's might have too much outfield depth, if that's even possible. Oakland will have six players -- Grossman, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Dustin Fowler, and Franklin Barreto -- vying for playing time in left field. Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano will handle right and center.

Grade: B+

Designated hitter

Additions: None
Departures: None

The A's have arguably the best DH in baseball and they made sure to bring him back. Oakland signed 31-year-old Khris Davis to a one-year deal worth $16.5 million, the highest single-season salary they have ever paid a player.

The only reason for the A- grade here is that Oakland didn't lock Davis up on a long-term deal, though that still remains a possibility.

Grade: A-

[RELATED: Davis explains why he wants multi-year deal with A's]

Summary

Overall, the A's roster got worse this offseason, at least on paper. That doesn't mean the team can't replicate last season's success, but it will have to do so with some new faces.

Losing Lowrie, Lucroy, and possibly Jackson could take a toll on the incredible chemistry the squad developed last year. Most importantly, Oakland has not yet adequately addressed their starting pitching concerns.

The A's managed to get by with a subpar starting rotation last season. It looks like they may have to do it again this year.

Grade: C

MLB rumors: A's Kyler Murray pursuit isn't done despite NFL intentions

MLB rumors: A's Kyler Murray pursuit isn't done despite NFL intentions

The A’s might be hoping Kyler Murray fails so they can succeed.

It’s an odd situation, especially since the A’s believed in Murray enough to spend the No. 9 overall draft pick on him last summer, but his announcement Monday that he’ll pursue an NFL career has created it.

Even then, the fight for Murray’s service hasn’t ended, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. That’s because of the following factors:

-- The A’s can offer Murray a guaranteed contract more lucrative than an NFL team can give him. NFL teams are bound by draft slots, while the A’s can pay whatever they like, their reputation as a frugal team be damned.

-- The A’s believe Murray’s football agent, Erik Burkhardt, crafted his client’s statement to ease NFL teams’ concerns. The A’s, meanwhile, were caught “off guard,” Rosenthal writes, by the statement from Murray, who has wavered in his decision between football and baseball.

-- Last, but not least, the A’s know Murray’s showing at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month will determine much about his draft stock. Rosenthal writes: “If he falters at the combine and slips in the draft, the A’s believe it is not out of the question he would reconsider his passion for football, which is widely believed to be his preferred sport.”

So, the A’s will wait and watch the NFL’s reaction to Murray as he either dazzles or fizzles on that Lucas Oil Stadium turf. Many a prospect have.

If Murray slips under the bright lights, it appears the A’s will be there, with a big contract possibly waiting. We’d all be lucky to have such options.