Disclaimer: This is idle speculation, not breaking news.
Milone requested/demanded a trade after being demoted. The A's front office said all the right things about how they respect a guy who wants to be on the big league club etc. etc. At first it was how it was really his agent making that demand and not our nice mannered Tommy.
Milone did his best to not be a public distraction after the fact but while the A's were under no obligation to trade Milone it turns out they were dead set on it. Minnesota was the only one offering major league talent according to Beane. Trade request granted.
Why wouldn't Cespedes be surprised?
Yoenis Cespedes was outwardly the face of this franchise. No one expected him to be traded just now. However, there were some quotes that came out after the trade that pointed to the A's trading Cespedes for sure by this off-season and as early as last off-season. But why exactly?
--Talked to baseball insider who said Athletics Billy Beane has been exploring trades for Yoenis Cespedes since the end of last year. Hickey
--If the A's had not traded Yoenis Cespedes on Thurday, they planned to after this season. The A's did not believe they would be able to re-sign Cespedes beyond his current deal. Slusser
The A's said they couldn't afford him after 2015 so they needed to trade him before that. I'm not quite buying it for a few reasons. One, did they ever even try to extend him? Two, does it even matter if they receive a return? Something does not quite add up.
First, there were never any extension talks that we know of even though Cespedes came out and said he would like a two-year extension or even to end his career in Oakland. Shouldn't the A's have at least thrown out a back-loaded 2/30 or 5/75 extension offer to see if he would bite? If they really wanted him wouldn't they take a shot in the dark?
Then Cespedes himself said he wasn't surprised after the trade. Well why not? He is confident enough in his own ability's. When was the last time a major piece was traded away in the middle of a pennant race? Shouldn't Cespedes be downright shocked? Offensively he was their best player by far over the last two post-seasons. Wouldn't a success starved front office positively cherish a player like that if they are trying to win it all?
Top wRC+ in 2012-13 playoffs. 100 is average.
(you don't want to see any more, trust me)
Fluke small sample size you say? If anyone has a case they are that rare "clutch" player, Cespedes back to back HR Derbys along with his almost singular playoff successes vs the Tigers makes it him. Now I'm not saying the A's should value this beyond other skills, just that the A's should value this wildcard talent more than they did.
Second, Let's assume the A's would lose Cespedes after 2015. No compensation whatsoever. So what? Aren't they in it to win it this year and next? They are good with losing Russell in 2015-2020 but suddenly the A's just had to get a return on Cespedes for 2016?
Cespedes providing trade value for future years when they might not be the best team in MLB does not fit the "all in as the favorite" narrative. Again, Cespedes is good not great in the regular season but his value is quite possibly highest for the "all in" 2014 AND 2015 playoffs.
Why not just ride Cespedes through their best window of contention in 25 years? One of the best windows in the last 50?(the last time and only time the Oakland A's were the best team in MLB was 1988-89-90). Why mess with not having Cespedes NOW? Why is Lester important for the playoffs but not Cespedes? Why am I asking why too much? Sorry, back to the idle speculation.
Was it his performance or was it because Cespedes was not a team player?
Buster Onley came out and said he wasn't liked in the clubhouse. (Slusser disagrees). But the front office did ask him not to play in the Home Run derby. He did anyways. Cespedes also said he didn't want to play CF which first went through a player then to the manager causing an awkward situation.
Was there even more "problems" with Cespedes than that? With teammates or the front office? This would be a perfect team to hide that stuff. Small West coast press core on the second most popular team in the area with a tight lipped front office.
The A's way or the highway?
I am not trying to start rumors here, just thinking things out. I have nothing beyond a few quotes to believe Cespedes is nothing more than a great teammate and great team player and to believe every last good thing said about him. I'm still negotiating with myself in my grief.
Tommy Milone committed the Cardinal sin of going against the A's front office publicly. He may have been just as adamant privately and the A's were not going to have it either for Milone's sake or the teams. That trade was expected but his public demands probably cost the A's some trade value.
But something does not quite add up with the Cespedes trade. Going from Milone to Cespedes, did Yoenis also do a thing or two the A's front office decided was one sin to many? Something they warned him against?
Cespedes may not have actually asked to be moved, but I could see the A's strong front office not putting up with any distractions or defiance. What do you think. Was his cumulative me first behavior; if true, in effect Trade request granted?
Cespedes media quotes by John Shea, Susan Slusser and others:
-- He made it known on Friday his desire to add a couple of years to his current contract, just hours after teammateCoco Crisp's two-year extension with a vesting option was announced. At one point, Cespedes even went so far as saying, "I would like to play to the end of my career in Oakland."
-- Cespedes missed four games with a wrist injury after the Home Run Derby last year, and the A's made it clear they weren't enthusiastic about him participation again. But as General Manager Billy Beane told me in an email two weeks ago, it's Cespedes' decision.
--Cespedes huge loss for athletics, didn't help his status when he said he didn't want to play center field when he was needed there. Cespedes went to a teammate about not wanting to play CF, not Melvin. Leaving manager in uncomfortable position.
-- I never miss a Buster Olney column, but when he reported on espn.com Thursday that Yoenis Cespedes "wasn't the most popular guy in the A's clubhouse," he had it wrong.
-- Always smiling and joking with teammates, Cespedes was enormously well-liked in the clubhouse, loved even, contrary to a misleading statement by a writer for a national media outlet, and Cespedes was a big favorite of manager Bob Melvin's.
For the record I think the team is now better in 2014 and I would make this trade again if he is the only ace available. I highly applaud Beane's moxy and thought Lester was the best player available. I can't say enough how impressed I am by Beane and his moves this run of playoff years but especially this last off-season and this last month.
But I'm greedy and a trade for David Price while keeping Cespedes seems like the better move. Only Boss Beane knows what was possible ( for all we know the A's and Cespedes have been trying exceptionally hard for an extension that just didn't work out or Tampa was stubborn for Norris) but it seems likely David Price was obtainable:
In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter. Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price's trade value.
I don't really buy the above quote. One year of 2015 Price would still be worth something good to a large market team. Two months of Lester was worth a year and two months of Cespedes. He is getting paid only $7 million more than Lester but still worth it.
4+ WAR pitchers are still worth every penny of $20 million dollars to rich teams if not us. Even if the A's just gave Price away the A's would still have Price and Cespedes for the 2014 playoffs and still have Cespedes in 2015.
It seems the price for Price wasn't that much. #5 starter (Pomeranz), half busted second base prospect (comp pick and PTBNL), A ball infielder ( the A's have about 5). Throw in a sweetener if you must like Abad.
This would have left them with more options and a better team in both 2014 and 2015. Option one, trade Price in the off-season if they didn't want to pay him $20 million in 2015. Option 2, the A's could choose to keep an expensive Price in 2015 for the regular season and the playoffs ( not even a choice with Lester) and then get the qualifying offer comp pick.
If the A's won the WS in 2014, a $20million dollar Ace to pair with a Cespedes in their walk years wouldn't be that far out of the question. Now in 2015 he A's have neither Cespedes, a tested number one starter, anything back in trade, or any comp picks.