The new year is upon us, Athletics Nation! We say goodbye to 2015, which brought mostly sadness for the Oakland A's, and hello to the sweet unknown of 2016. One thing is for sure, though -- the A's are having another busy offseason.
It's not easy to keep all the moves straight, so here is one big roundup to help you stay updated. First, an overview:
SP (L) Rich Hill (signed)
1B Yonder Alonso (acq from SD)
RP (R) J.B. Wendelken (acq from ChW)
SP (R) Jesse Chavez (traded to Tor)
1B Ike Davis (non-tendered)
RP (R) Brendan McCurry (traded to Hou)
* Note: RP Arnold Leon is currently designated for assignment, and his fate is yet unknown. UPDATE: Leon was traded to the Blue Jays on Jan. 5.
And here's how they all got here.
A's acquire RP Liam Hendriks from Blue Jays for SP Jesse Chavez
In brief: Chavez is good, but he was in his last year of team control. Hendriks had a breakout year in relief and is under control for four seasons (from 2016 thru 2019). This trade cashed in on the value of Chavez's last season before free agency, addressed a need in the back of the bullpen by adding a rising star, and saved a bit of money. Right now it looks like a smart move.
A's acquire IF Jed Lowrie from Astros for minor league prospect (RP Brendan McCurry)
In brief: Lowrie is a solid veteran, good enough to start every day, but he was forced out of the Astros' lineup by Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa. He was expendable to Houston but can help the A's, so Oakland grabbed him for a bargain price at an opportune moment. McCurry was a popular prospect on AN, but getting a quality MLB position player for a minor league reliever is a move you make every time.
A's acquire 1B Yonder Alonso and RP Marc Rzepczynski from Padres for RP Drew Pomeranz and a prospect (RP Jose Torres)
In brief: Alonso gives Oakland a regular first baseman with a quality left-handed bat, which are both things they needed. He's not a slugger, but he brings OBP and defense. The price was Pomeranz, who has settled in as a solid lefty reliever, but at least fellow southpaw Rzepczynski came back to replace him for one year. Torres is a promising prospect, but he's already taking up a spot on the 40-man roster and burning an option year even though he's barely cracked High-A.
A's acquire two prospects (RP J.B. Wendelken and SP Zack Erwin) from White Sox for IF Brett Lawrie
In brief: This one's a bummer and there's no way around it. Lawrie didn't hit his huge upside in 2015, and he apparently wore out his welcome in Oakland because it sure feels like they hastily sold low on him. Just one year ago, Lawrie was a key piece in the Josh Donaldson trade, and now he's been ushered out in favor of Jed Lowrie at 2B and Danny Valencia at 3B. The return was a pair of pitchers who look useful but unexciting, which seems like pennies on the dollar.
A's acquire prospect (RP Trey Cochran-Gill) from Mariners for RP Evan Scribner
In brief: Scribner was out of options and there will be a lot of competition for the Opening Day bullpen. Rather than risk losing him in March, the A's hit the reset button by turning him into a near-ready relief prospect.
Total: Around $3 million added to the 2016 payroll between these five trades. A's swap infielders (Lawrie out, Lowrie in), cost-controlled relievers (Pomeranz out, Hendriks in), situational relievers with great peripherals (Scribbles out, Scrabble in), and a pitcher they didn't have room for (Chavez) for a hitter who fills a need (Alonso), all with a few nominal bullpen prospects going each way. As a net total, these trades didn't add or remove a lot of talent or salary overall, but the players they got fit into the rest of the roster far better than the players they gave up.
A's sign free agent SPs Rich Hill and Henderson Alvarez
In brief: With the insane price of starting pitching on the open market, Oakland bought low on a couple of injury bounce-backs. The lefty Hill flashed enough promise for Boston at the end of last season to get a guaranteed rotation spot from the A's. The righty Alvarez is a gamble and probably won't be ready for the start of the season, but he's loaded with talent and could turn into a major bargain. Oakland also pursued a reunion with Scott Kazmir, but the lefty ultimately signed with the Dodgers.
A's sign free agent RPs Ryan Madson and John Axford
In brief: Oakland's bullpen was a disaster in 2015, and a major overhaul was necessary. Both of these signings are risky -- Madson is 35 and has a significant injury history, while Axford has been inconsistent throughout his career. Both right-handers required multi-year deals, and neither came cheap. But they both have closing experience, strikeout ability, and plenty of velocity, and they could end up being well worth their premium salaries. The A's needed to add talent to their pen, and they definitely did that.
Total: $21.42 million spent in 2016 on four players, with $4.1 million in possible performance incentives.
Out: Fernando Abad, Dan Otero, Pat Venditte, Ike Davis, Craig Gentry
In brief: Abad and Otero flopped hard in 2015 after past success in Oakland, and Venditte didn't do enough to stick around despite his unique appeal. All were necessary sacrifices to the bullpen revamp. Ike and Gentry both got hurt and lost their spots to younger, cheaper (and better) replacements.
In: Andrew Lambo
In brief: The A's take a flyer on a guy with some power potential. He's worth a look in the spring.
Front office and coaching staff
Billy Beane promoted to Executive VP, David Forst promoted to General Manager
In brief: This is mostly symbolic, and Beane says it reflects the way things were working anyway. The change keeps Forst in the organization rather than losing him to another team's GM job. Billy Owens (Director of Player Personnel) and Dan Feinstein (Pro Scouting and Player Personnel) were also promoted to the role of assistant GM, joining Dan Kantrovitz.
Mark Kotsay added as bench coach, Mike Aldrete moved to first base coach, Tye Waller released
In brief: Shaking things up slightly. I'm not aware of anything negative about Waller, but Kotsay seems like he will make a great first mate for Bob Melvin and he's certainly familiar to (and beloved by) A's fans. Aldrete was the previous bench coach, but he slides over to take Waller's spot at first base. Ron Washington is sticking around as the third base coach, and so are Curt Young (pitching), Darren Bush (hitting), and Scott Emerson (bullpen) among others.
The Current Roster
Here is the 40-man roster and depth chart as things currently stand. For the rotation and bullpen, I've listed all available options; those lists will ultimately be pared down to 5 starters and 7 relievers on Opening Day. For the position players, I've listed the expected starters first, followed by the available options to fill in the bench (some of whom will go to Triple-A instead). In all sections, I've included some upcoming Triple-A prospects. Payroll is around $80 million, give or take a couple million (with around $33 million committed for 2017, and $13 million committed for 2018).
R Sonny Gray
(L Sean Manaea)*
L Sean Doolittle
(R Jarrod Parker)
C Stephen Vogt
1B Yonder Alonso
DH Billy Butler
UT Eric Sogard
(1B Rangel Ravelo)
RF Josh Reddick
OF Coco Crisp
(OF/1B Matt Olson)*
* Not yet on 40-man roster, but could get the call.
Note #1: Pitching prospect Raul Alcantara is also on the 40-man but is not listed here since he only pitched in High-A ball last season.
Note #2: Among on-the-bubble players, Nolin, Rodriguez, Doubront, and Fuld are all out of minor league options. If they don't make the team Opening Day, they will have to pass through waivers.
There are still two more months to go until spring training, and another month after that until Opening Day, so there might still be some more changes. But in the meantime, Happy New Year and Go A's!