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2013 Offseason Mailbag # 6: Infield Musical Chairs, Cespedes Extension, and more

Remember the mailbag? Billy Beane nearly destroyed it in the great hot stove explosion this winter. But we’ve dusted the ash off to find some questions this week.

Don't High Five Him Too Hard!
Don't High Five Him Too Hard!
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The A's value versatility and 1b and 3b are typically the easiest positions for players to transition and learn.  Given that Lowrie would play better at 2b than ss, is there any chance that Donaldson or Cespedes (half joking...) could be tried at ss? This would open up 3b, which may be something Jaso, Moss, or someone else could try. Donaldson was a former catcher that was converted to 3b after all. Also, it may be easier to target a 3b in free agency, trade, or minor league call ups. This would immediately upgrade the A's offensive replacing Sogard/Callaspo with Jaso. Your thoughts?

This is kind of a long view/short view issue.  As it stands right now, the A's have an above-average defensive 3B in Donaldson and a below-average defensive SS in Lowrie.  Moving Lowrie off of SS is in theory a good idea, but then the A's need someone else to play there, and he displaces one of Punto or Sogard off of 2B.  Punto is a capable SS defensively, but a massive downgrade on offense.  Donaldson could maybe learn the position, but the likelihood of him being above-average immediately is low, and then one of Sogard or Punto mans 3B full-time.  Alternatively, as you alluded to, Moss or Jaso could learn 3B, but again, they would be unlikely to be even average initially.  Ideally, players would be placed at positions in which they are most likely to succeed, and so far the A's have done that well.  Don't forget - Donaldson played 3B in college.  I don't think Cespedes would be placed in the infield.  Ever.

Looking down the road, Addison Russell has evolved into a player scouts are projecting to stick at SS, and likely arrive in Oakland at 2015.  Why move Donaldson to SS and Jaso/Moss to 3B, only to convert Donaldson back to 3B in 2015 when Russell takes over the position full-time?  Or, rather, why do it when Sogard and Punto can man the position if necessary (Lowrie injury, for example)?

The last time the A's decided to invest in a position player for the long term, it was Eric Chavez (franchise record 6-year / $66 Million in 2004.  I believe that Yoenis Cespedes can be the backbone of the Oakland A's offense going forward into the future.  What is the likelihood that the A's will put that kind of guaranteed money up front and sign Yoenis Cespedes to a long-term contract beyond the 2015 season?  What is a realistic timetable for such a signing to occur?

If there is a chance for an extension, I suspect this year would be the one that would make the A's decision one way or another.  I would not, however, take a potential Cespedes extension to assure his status as an Oakland A for the duration of the deal.  Indeed, Trevor Cahill was traded the year after he signed an extension, partly because the Diamondbacks had cost control over him for several years because of the extension.

That being said, should Cespedes have a good year, he could also bring back a significant haul of prospects without signing an extension.  It is no secret that the A's farm system is rather barren now having graduated Sonny Gray and with Choice's trade to Texas, so that may look like an attractive option.  Again, I suspect it all depends on how the A's view his prospects for long-term health and success.

The Pirates added Liriano, why can't we take a chance on someone like Josh Johnson, Roy Halladay, or even Johan Santana, just off the top of my head? All were aces at some point, each have a chip on their shoulder, pitching at the on a playoff team would be nice for them, and I can't imagine costing mega bucks, either. Could you imagine if Parker was our Game-3 starter?

Well, this email was written a few weeks ago, but in the intervening time, the only remaining available starter on that list is Johan Santana.  Josh Johnson signed with Padres, and Roy Halladay retired.  Santana could be available, but the A's already signed Kazmir and have Brett Anderson (though he is still on the block).  I suspect they would not be interested in another lefty with some injury issues in his past but with a lot of upside.  With Straily, Parker, and Gray in the mix, the A's have younger starters without injury history and a whole lot of upside.

Do you think Michael Young would be a good fit for the A's?  He is a leader, versatile, and a professional hitter.  Is he in the A's price range?




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