Speaking of truckloads of dollars, Susan Slusser reports (and AP, via the SJ Merc, concurs) that the A's have dealt OF Jai Miller to the Orioles for cash considerations. UPDATE #2: Joe Stiglich, also in the Merc, has Coco Crisp about to resign with Oakland on a two-year deal. --EN
By my back-of-the-envelope math, the A's just saved $10-15MM for this upcoming season by trading away Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Andrew Bailey. Even after figuring in a handful of arbitration raises and league-minimum salaries for the new guys, the A's are looking at a rather nice amount of cash on their hands. The savings over the next few years will be even greater, considering that Gonzalez and Bailey are going into their first year of arbitration, and that Cahill has only cashed in $500,000 of his $30.5MM contract. We don't know much about the Athletics' financial books, but considering that they offered a rumored $64MM deal to Adrian Beltre last winter, they clearly have a little spending money.
Billy has already said that they're willing to spend upwards of $10MM on the draft this year. But outside of the draft, there's a target that the A's absolutely need to acquire if they're serious about this 2015 rebuild plan: 19-year-old Cuban defectee Jorge Soler.
Some background first. From Baseball America's Jim Callis:
Six-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Soler has explosive bat speed and power potential. He also has plus speed and arm strength and profiles as a classic right fielder, though he runs well enough to play center. Because of his youth, he'll need some time to develop, but he should be worth the wait.
Callis goes on to say that if Soler had been a part of 2010's MLB draft, he would have been a top five overall pick, likely after the top three of Bryce Harper (A), Jameson Taillon (A-), and Manny Machado (A). Grades in parentheses are from John Sickels' 2012 rankings. Callis also compares Soler to 2011 fifth overall pick Bubba Starling, and he expects both Starling and Soler to sit in the 11-20 range of Baseball America's next Top 100 prospect list. Put it this way—scouts are absolutely in love with the kid.
And the best news of all? According to Susan Slusser, the A's have shown "strong interest".
Fellow countryman Yoenis Cespedes seems to be rated a bit higher by scouts than Soler, but Cespedes has the stronger brand name recognition, and thus, a stronger bidding war and price. And besides, at age 26, Cespedes doesn't fit as well with the Athletics' 2015 rebuilding plan as the 19-year-old Soler.
Now, as far as the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is concerned, there's a new clause that sets a limit on any club's international expenditures at a total of $2.9MM over the 2012-2013 signing period. However, that signing period begins on July 2, 2012, so Soler could be the last unrestricted international signing that the A's can make.
Billy Beane absolutely needs to do this rebuild right, after the last Holliday-shortened attempt. There's no better way of putting high-upside talent in an A's uniform than the farm system, and between Soler, the 2012 #11 overall pick in the draft, and a little luck, the A's could get a formidable infusion of young talent a year or two into their new park in San Jose. The A's haven't had a position player in the top 20 places of Baseball America's top prospect list since Carlos Pena in 2002.
So go ahead and overpay for the kid, Billy. Throw that cash around. Where else are you going to put the money, Cody Ross?