Oakland Athletics Offseason: 5 Most Pivotal Players

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It's that time again! The one where we discuss more about the A's off-season, in the form of a game called "5 pivotal players". Who do the A's keep? Who should they get rid of? Who is the valuable face of the 2014 team, and who is replaceable? Chime in here.

For today's story, here are the labels we are playing with:

Must Keep -- this player should not be discussed in any trade scenario.
Should Keep -- this player should only be discussed at the highest premium.
Neutral -- this player is valuable to your team as-is but could also bring a nice return.
Should Trade -- your team should trade this player while there's still value.
Must Get Rid Of -- Do whatever it takes.

Must Keep: Although it can be argued that Josh Donaldson would bring the most value in a trade, coming off a record season for him where he finished fourth in MVP voting, I think the A's should hang on to Donaldson, no matter what. He's young, inexpensive, under team control for multiple years, and plays an incredible third base in additional to being one of the A's biggest offensive threats this season. On the intangible side, he seems to really love playing in Oakland. This could be the A's cornerstone; a player to build the team around, and if anyone is untouchable, it probably should be him.

Should Keep: May I cheat? I'm keeping both Jarrod Parker and Sonny Gray. Both are young pitchers; both have the potential to be aces; and at the very least, they have extraordinary upside. It would take a pretty sweet deal for me to even think about putting them into a package.

Neutral: I'm actually neutral on the bullpen. While I love Doolittle and Otero, and could be persuaded to love Cook again, I would trade any and every bullpen arm for the right price. Don't get me wrong, I want them on the A's, but if there is value to be had, I would certainly consider a trade.

Should Trade: This might be slightly controversial, but I would look at the market for Yoenis Cespedes, who has but two years left on his deal before he leaves Oakland for bigger money. Granted, he's the A's only true high-risk/high-reward player and their only real potential superstar, and wow, did I love the Homerun Derby, but this year exposed some potential flaws in his game, and mild injury risks. If we could get that deal, and we'll know it when we see it, there's a good chance I let Cespedes go. I will say that it has to be the Holy Sh*t deal of the decade, but with him as bait, I think the A's have a real, true bargaining chip for someone amazing.

Must Get Rid Of: I'm not sure if free agents count or not, but I think the A's should let Balfour go. He's been amazing for the A's, he's coming off a career year, and I'm thrilled with his contribution to Oakland, but he's no longer young, he'll almost certainly be overpaid, and if the A's continue the trend of turning bullpen arms into closers, the A's have players waiting in the wings for their chance to take the ninth-inning center stage. Also, the A's might be friends again with their opponents, and maybe even earn back the "Family Friendly" seal of approval for A's baseball games.

Do you agree or disagree? Let's here your 5 labels here!

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