The problem the A's have at the trading deadline is that none of their "trade chips" is going to bring back a whole lot on his own -- and in the case of Josh Willingham, potentially a Type A free agent, the A's stand to get maybe two draft picks if they just hang onto him.
But as the trade deadline looms (1:00pm PDT Sunday), the Atlanta Braves are still seeking help in CF where Coco Crisp might be the most natural fit. And the latest Willingham-based rumor, from Buster Olney, suggests that perhaps the Red Sox have inquired about acquire both Willingham and Rich Harden. Note that this rumor is only in the "maybe" stage for rumors. But, that combination could earn the A's back one of the Red Sox players the A's could not get for Willingham, or Harden, alone, and the Red Sox do have several young players/prospects Oakland would benefit from adding to the rebuild effort.
Meanwhile, for Crisp the A's would likely be adding young starting pitching, which the Atlanta Braves have in their strong farm system. Possibilities in the right prospect-rating range may include (Sickels' ratings follow each name) Brandon Beachy (B-), J.J. "I Suck Like A" Hoover (B-), Brett Oberholtzer (C+), and Arodys Vizcaino (B, but with health questions).
This is kind of my "best case scenario" hope right now: To get a decent young pitching prospect from Atlanta for Crisp, to get a desirable young player back from Boston by packaging two players, e.g., Willingham and Harden, and then to still take a shot at re-signing Willingham in the off-season, to a 3-year deal, as a "LF-DH".
Perhaps not all of this is realistic. Perhaps none of it is. However, so far all of it is based on rumors, and known needs, that are still out there, and all could potentially make sense for the teams involved.
Who do you think the A's would get for Crisp if he were indeed sent to the Braves? And if Willingham and Harden are being discussed as a package, who do you think is a likely candidate to come to Oakland in return? Because if the A's could get one desirable player back from Boston, and a good young pitching prospect back from Atlanta, for three players who are FAs at the end of the season, I would be a happy camper indeed.