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JosephTDeClercq’s Offseason Plan

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Early Decisions

There isn’t room on my team for players who attack their teammates. Additionally, considering Danny Valencia was almost exactly league average in the second half of 2016. I project him to have minimal value in 2017.

Impending Free Agents

  • Ross Detwiler – made $1.00M in 2016 — Make like your BB/9 and walk
  • Sam Fuld – made $1.925M in 2016 — Likable guy, but at this point has nothing to offer. Let him go.

Free Agents

  • Brandon Moss — 2/$12MM (110 OPS+ in 2016 vs. RHP)
  • Matt Holliday — 2/$24MM (107 OPS+, 5th highest average exit velocity in MLB in 2016)

I know what you’re thinking, “but Matt Holliday hates Oakland!!” First off, we have no real evidence that suggests that. Secondly, Holliday was a productive hitter last year despite bad batted-ball luck. He still kills the ball, is a veteran, and did you know he can also play first base? Versatility FTW! Plus he’ll likely come at a somewhat of a discount given his age and declining defense.

Trades

Unsurprisingly I would like the A’s to trade a 20-year old minor leaguer for a 26-year old elite centerfielder. Barreto might be a very good major league baseball player one day, but Kiermaier is one right now and would be in his prime years while under Oakland’s control. Eibner seems like a guy the Tampa Bay Rays could make use of. Then it boils down to Holmes+Alcantara for Andriese. Holmes is a fine prospect but is still a long way from contributing in Oakland whereas Andriese could serve as a swing man right now with the potential to slot into the rotation in 2018 or beyond.

As for the Vogt-for-Gio deal: it came down to the fact that in order to contend in 2017 and 2018 the A’s will need pitching depth most of all. 14 different pitchers made starts for the A’s in 2016. 14 different pitchers made 5 or more starts for Oakland in 2016. Only three different pitchers made 20 or more starts for Oakland in 2016. Those figures frighten me. Gio Gonzalez has started 30 more more games in six of his last seven seasons and has seven-straight seasons of 27 or more starts. He has been one of baseball’s most underrated pitchers in that time, eclipsing 3 fWAR every year except for 2016 when he reached 2.9. Gonzalez is at his most-acquirable given Washington’s embarrassment of rotation riches. Plus, the Nationals need a catcher. Stephen Vogt has a 139 wRC+ in the first half of 2015. His wRC+ since then is 88. It is time to move on , especially with the emergence of Bruce Maxwell.

Assorted Notes

  • Liam Hendriks was the team’s best relief pitcher in 2016 and should be used as such in 2017 — whether he’s closing games or not.
  • Feature Mark Ellis in a prominent coaching role and handcuff Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder to him. Where Mark goes they go.
  • Do not trade from the starting lineup (with the exception of Vogt) or the major league rotation.

Roster

Lineup vs. RHP

CF — Kevin Kiermaier

3B — Jed Lowrie

DH — Matt Holliday

LF — Khris Davis

1B — Ryon Healy

RF — Brandon Moss

SS — Marcus Semien

C — Bruce Maxwell

2B — Joey Wendle

Lineup vs. LHP

SS — Marcus Semien

3B — Jed Lowrie

DH — Matt Holliday

LF — Khris Davis

1B — Ryon Healy

RF — Jake Smolinski

C — Josh Phegley

CF — Kevin Kiermaier

2B — Chad Pinder

Starting Rotation

SP 1 — Sonny Gray

SP 2 — Gio Gonzalez

SP 3 — Kendall Graveman

SP 4 — Sean Manaea

SP 5 — Jharel Cotton

Bullpen

CL — Liam Hendriks

SU — Sean Doolittle

SU — Ryan Madson

MR — Ryan Dull

MR — John Axford

MR — Daniel Coulombe

LR — Matt Andriese

Triple-A Depth

Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden, Zach Neal, Chris Bassitt, Jesse Hahn, Mark Canha, Matt Olson, Renato Nunez

Summary

WIth the exception of Sonny Gray, the A’s second half rotation was quite good. Full season contributions from Cotton and Manaea plus the addition of Gonzalez puts the A’s in a good spot in regards to their rotation in 2017. Gray will almost assuredly bounce back, at least to some degree. Triggs, Andriese, Mengden provide capable, if not exciting 6th, 7th, and 8th-man options and that isn’t even factoring in Frankie Montas who is still an unknown in my mind. I believe my proposed rotation should reasonably be worth between 12 and 12 fWAR over the course of a season.

I dealt the team’s best known commodity: Stephen Vogt. My case is stated above, but so as to not completely diminish the veteran presence on this team Lowrie has retained his role (from now until when Matt Chapman supplants him). Valencia is now gone, so addition by subtraction in the chemistry department. Kiermaier, Holliday, and Moss are veterans with track records of success, some of which came in Oakland. Between Kiermaier in center, Pinder/Wendle at second, and moving Healy to first the team’s defense should be greatly improved and that doesn’t factor in any more improvements from Semien at short. I am not worried about the crop of position players with these veterans in the fold. I reasonably expect between 20 and 22 fWAR from the position players on my roster.

The bullpen is nearly untouched. Hendriks should headline the group of relievers that contributed to the 11th best bullpen in baseball. Hopefully Doolittle enters 2017 fully healthy and ready to take on a larger load than either of the past two seasons. The emergence of Ryan Dull has really helped this team in the middle-innings, plus Coulombe who is a viable left-handed middle-innings option. Having the Madson and Axford as veteran leaders only ices the cake. But watch for Frankie Montas to make a push for late-inning reliever in 2017. This bullpen should again produce between 4 and 6 fWAR.

Combined the position players and pitchers, based on my loose projections, can be worth right around 40 fWAR, which would put them right in reach of being a top-10 overall team.

Only two good prospects were dealt and no contracts were handed out that have the chance to come back and bite the team in the future. All in all this roster would cost roughly $72 million, which is well below what I expect the team to spend. There is still room to add more starting pitching depth or perhaps a replacement for Lowrie at third base.

Much of what I just mapped you probably saw coming, largely due to my vocal opinion on the matter since the A’s dropped from contention. However, I still want to know what you think.