Spring training has sprung and millionaires in parachute pants have set sail for Arizona to prepare for the 2016 Major League Baseball season. Spring always brings its share of question marks, but this year's batch seems to be greater in both number and importance. So, pretend for a second you're have full responsibility of making decisions for the A's from not until opening day. What do you do?
I've included my responses below as an example, but you don't have to use that as a template. You can do something as simple as putting Krispy Kreme in the stadium, as weird as moving the fences in to 100 feet from home plate but also making them 100 feet high, or as unlikely as paying the Angels $10 million to play Billy Butler at short. Let's get
weird creative here. Here are two prompts you probably know and have thought too much about, but again, feel free to go any direction with it.
- The A's clearly have a roster crunch related to the Davis/Coghlan acquisitions. How do you resolve that?
- The A's presumably have somewhere in the vicinity of $8-10 million left in payroll. This is obviously less certain than the roster crunch and the A's may be holding onto it in case of a midseason acquisition, but again, this is pretend world so just roll with it. Do you spend that money now? Wait?
Your choices can be as dumb (see my move #1), unlikely (#2), or as mutually exclusive as you like (see all 3), this is just all just for fun. In spite of many pleas to the A's front office, I was unable to turn this into a real exercise so whatever you type probably won't become a reality. Probably.
1. Sign Jarrod Parker to a 5 year, $12 million dollar extension with $8 million of that being for 2016
Jarrod Parker looked to be the future of the A's staff until a little thing called Tommy John surgery happened. Thanks to that unfortunate injury, Parker has essentially lost two seasons and in spite of pitching only two season for the A's, Parker only has two seasons left on his current contract. That's a lot of twos!
As I mentioned in my prompt, the A's probably have some money to work with and that money won't just roll over to the next season if it goes untouched. Obviously, there's a lot more nuance to the A's finances than that and Billy/David can't just go willy nillly spending ownership's cash like that, but I can in my pretend world. I've bought, then thrown in my closet out of fear of being ridiculed by my friends, enough Gap cardigans to earn more than two more seasons of Jarrod Parker.
Why do I go for this move? Parker has upside and signing him to that deal keeps him around a while longer. Yeah, it's very unlikely he's healthy and good for five years but the next four being at $1 million a piece make anything he contributes (even if it's literally nothing) worth it.
Why would Parker accept? The dude hasn't cashed in on his impressive ability thanks to injuries and the long time it takes to reach free agency. This would make him financially secure for his career.
Odds of happening? 0%
2. Start the season with only 11 pitchers by starting Jesse Hahn in AAA. Swap him out for Kendall Graveman after a few weeks to give both the rest they probably need; use Felix Doubront as the 5th starter.
The A's roster crunch will probably be solved by an injury or a trade. But pretend we make it to opening day with each current position player still healthy and on the roster: there's a big decision to be had. A bullpen needs a long guy and and six other arms to make it through a season but early on when everyone's fresh, it's possible to make it without one of those arms. For the first two weeks, have F-Rod be the long man and pray the position player logjam sorts itself out.
Odds of happening? Are negative percents possible?
3. Sign Austin Jackson for whatever it takes for one year
This would negate the Parker extension and further mess with the roster crunch, but the A's should have enough money lying around to make this happen. If you sign Jackson, you can pretty easily jettison Fuld and maybe even Crisp, although the latter is a bit more complicated. What do you get in Jackson? A bounceback candidate who should have solid defense at the very least. Should he bouneback with the bat, you've got yourself a damn fine player, a trade candidate if stuff makes contact with the fan, and a potential QO at the end of the year if things go well. And if things go badly? Well you're about in the same position you were in with Fuld for a bit more money that doesn't affect the future anyway.
Odds of happening? Greater than the previous two!
What do you do?
You can do anything you like. What do you choose?