Taking A Dump: The 2017 Orodawg Offseason Plan

You’re tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. I greatly dislike watching players like Marc Rzcepsynski come in and HBP the winning run in. (Okay that one was funny). You want Billy Beane to hurry up and invade Westeros. We have a lot in common. In this offseason piece, I propose a reshuffling of sorts. Adding ‘win-now’ pieces to our roster, while at the same time ensuring that the farm stays loaded for future contention windows. There will be blood and gold spent, but by the end, I think the 2017 A’s could be pretty good.

And now, the fun stuff.

Trade One: A Dance of Payrolls

To OAK: Lorenzo Cain, Ian Kennedy

To KCR: Raul Alcantara, Yairo Munoz.

So, the A’s need a CF and a veteran SP. The SP market is thin, and the options are super meh. The Royals are reportedly looking to get out from under some salary, and happen to have both a CF and a SP. Shedding Cain and Kennedy saves them a cool $24.5 million this next year, and we do have some salary room to play with, both near and long term.

Kennedy is a very interesting SP, one whom I’ve kicked around bringing to Oakland for a few years now. He’s owed about $63 million over the next four seasons. He also has an opt-out following the 2017 season, which if he exercises triggers a $6 million dollar bonus on top of his $13.5 million salary for the year. He then receives $16.5 million a year for the following three years. So, yes, he will cost a little bit of money.

Think of Ian Kennedy as a more expensive A.J. Griffin. He has a severe tendency to give up dingers, but in his good years he will limit them and provide lots of innings and 3+ fWAR. At the end of the ’16 campaign, Kennedy was on one of his streaks of really limiting HR’s, signaling some good momentum into ’17. This move is solely predicated on one clear gamble: that Ian Kennedy has a good year. It’s why I think the Royals make this move. They likely do not want to make that gamble anymore.

In fact, I’m so certain that they don’t want to make the Kennedy gamble, that I’m willing to bet they’d part with Lorenzo Cain at a reduced rate just to get out from under the Kennedy money. He’s making $11 million himself, so replacing him with Dyson for a year saves them some money and they don’t lose much of anything on defense. This value in this deal ends up being proportional to how much money we make the Royals eat. I’m proposing taking on all the money, but if you’d prefer to have the Royals chip in some cash, turn Alcantara into, say, Dan Gossett.

If you win this gamble, after 2017 you get two QO draft picks. If you lose this gamble, you get a year of Cain + 1QO, and another three years of Kennedy in the rotation. Not the worst outcome.

*I’m partially modeling this on the James Shields trade from this past year. While his 2016 was absolutely dreadful, his 2015 is actually somewhat similar to his old rotation-mate’s 2016. Kennedy’s contract situation is similar to Shields’ was entering this year. With a good year, Shields could have opted out of the huge money allocated to him. Shields ’16-’18 money is about $68 Million with a $2 million buyout of a 2019 team option. Obviously he sucked and didn’t opt out, so Chicago got stuck with the contract. The Padres hold the tab for about half the current money.

Trade Two: A Tale of Three Cities

To OAK: Dalton Pompey, ‘Alabama’ Cody Reed

To ARI: Stephen Vogt, Sean Reid-Foley, Rowdy Tellez, Reese McGuire, Vlad Guerrero Jr.

To TOR: Paul Goldschmidt

So, lot of stuff going on here. I don’t think Toronto is going to close the door on contention, not when they have a pretty great core still. They replace Encarnacion’s production with Goldy, who would absolutely destroy the ball in Toronto. I think Toronto walks away pretty happy. If they somehow manage to retain one of Bautista/Encarnacion, that middle of the order still looks beastly.

Arizona’s farm system is absolutely abysmal, and they aren’t seeing returns from their current assets at the MLB level. I think they should retool, and I think Mike Hazen ends up agreeing. Arizona gets, what I feel, is very fair value for Goldschmidt. They lose three very affordable years of Goldy, but in return they fix their hole at catcher both short and long term, gain a long-term 1B replacement in Tellez, add an arm I’m very high on in Reid-Foley, and gain lottery ticket extraordinaire Vlad Guerrero Jr. Vogt fits in as the RH side of a platoon with Castillo, and remains at C until McGuire is ready. With 1B open, they can finally move around their disaster defensive alignment into something slightly better.

We get our CF of the future and an intriguing lefty SP prospect who will repeat the Cal league. We can use Pompey as our roving 4th OF/backup CF, who will definitely get a ton of playing time. I like Cody Reed a lot because he annihilated the Midwest League, but ran into some trouble in the Cal. As a lefty, I like his chances to round out into a solid #4 starter.

Trade Three: Mile High Pipedream

To OAK: Carlos Gonzalez, Dom Nunez, $5 million.

To COL: Danny Valencia, Ryan Madson, Dylan Covey.

I thought long and hard about finding a RF solution for the 2017 A’s. But there’s one hard truth: there are like 0 good, acquirable corner outfielders this offseason. I mean, there’s Kole Calhoun annnnd yeah. After our friend from Purple Row came over to ask about Valencia for their 1B opening, this deal started to take shape. Colorado wants to get Gonzalez out of their outfield, they’d likely prefer to shore up their pen, and they definitely want some salary savings. I think we can do all that in one fell swoop.

They need a mashing righty first baseman, which Valencia would easily be. They also have been trying to shore up their bullpen with hard throwers, hence Madson to help make the money work out. We also send them Dylan Covey, whose groundball tendencies would play well in Coors.

On our side, we receive our short-term answer in RF who can be platooned with Smolinski successfully. Against righties, Gonzalez hits to the tune of a 118 wRC+ and has the potential to do more once out of the NL West. We also bring another prospect crush of mine into the org, Dom Nunez. Nunez is a catcher who moved there from the middle infield. He already has an advanced feel for the position, so it’s likely he’ll stick. He was a big-time sleeper of mine coming into the year, but kinda fell apart with the bat in the CAL. I have every reason to believe that he’ll bounce back. I feel that this is pretty fair value-wise, it's salary neutral and relieves us of an extra roster spot.

This lets us have either another QO target should Gonzalez thrive, or at worst, a placeholder RF that allows us to keep Matt Olson down for another couple of months.

Sign FA RP Daniel Hudson 2 year/$7 million.

I really, really like Dan Hudson. Like, a lot. Dude is death to righties and racks up huge strikeout totals. He isn’t a high leverage reliever, but slot him in the 6th/7th innings as necessary and watch him blow through the inning. Ultimately he ends up replacing some of Madson’s innings in this situation.

So! Your (First Half) 2017 Oakland A’s…


































































Some Thoughts and Musings:

Ultimately, I think MLB is in a pretty big transitional period. There is a serious dearth of quality corner outfielders who are acquirable in trade with a big prospect haul. Either they don’t exist, or are on teams who will be very reluctant to trade them. This is why my plan is only about 4 moves long. I think that we can benefit ourselves next year by being willing to take on salary commitments for 2017.

And we can definitely take on the salary that I’m proposing. Between non-tenders for all of the bad players who will be leaving us this offseason, and Arb raises for Gray, Davis, and Hendriks, we will still have a ton of payroll to play with. Ultimately, through these deals, I’ve added about $30 million in salary commitments in 2017. A quick glance at Cot’s Contracts will show that we definitely have room to add that on, even with Butler’s contract still hanging around. I project this squad to be sitting around $80 million in salary, with wiggle room either way. I wanted to focus on salary dumps that we could get out of.

The reason why, above, I noted that this was merely the first half lineup, is because I firmly believe that after the All-Star break, the squad would look drastically different. If we’re out of contention, we can flip guys like Cain, Lowrie, Gonzalez, Axford, Hendriks, etc. and replace them internally. I foresee the A’s turning Marcus Semien into a Zobrist-like utility guy, as I think he has the flexibility to play at LF/RF/SS/2B. This allows them to be flexible when Chapman, Barreto, Olson, etc. finally break into the bigs.

If we’re in contention, I wanted to hold onto our raw prospect talent so we could potentially augment the roster where needed. I think the A’s strategy should be pretty simple this offseason: take on money where you can, and insert yourself into deals to bring in guys you like, and don’t get too cute trying to compete this year.

There is one open question this offseason, and it revolves around Josh Phegley and his knee. If he’s fully recovered by ST next year, and he can be the second catcher, great. If not, that creates a few more problems. I don’t believe that Iannetta’s option will get declined, and I don’t love any of the FA options. I don’t know whether to hedge on this or not, since we haven’t heard much of anything about Phegley for a while. I trust the FO to make the right call here.

Tell me what you think! This is about as much as I can think of to do.