After going 1-7 against the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, the A’s seem poised to let this season slip away and set their sights on 2017. FanGraphs’ CoolStandings page gives the A’s 40-1 odds to make the postseason at all. They trail the Rangers by 12.5 for the AL West, the Mariners and Blue Jays by 7.5 for the second Wild Card.
But there still isn't really a trade market right now. At this stage, any swaps are more of the “change of scenery” sort of trade, such as the one that moved a struggling Chris Coghlan for an underwhelming Arismendy Alcantara.
The next two weeks see the A’s play the Angels seven times, the Rangers four times, and the Brewers twice. After that, trade rumors should be flying, and the A’s will ask themselves whether they want to see about pulling off something close to what they did in 2005, but a little bit better.
Ahead of that, let’s look at just what players the A’s have to offer. We’ll start today with Oakland's upcoming free agents. In a future article I’ll look at the following year’s free agents, and then I’ll follow that up with some of Oakland’s players under control for longer.
Upcoming free agents
SP Rich Hill has already more than doubled Oakland's $6 million investment in him by FanGraphs' measure. At this point, if he stays healthy, he'll be "this summer's sought-after arm." With Stephen Strasburg off the market after his extension, the list of interesting starting pitchers is thinner than ever. Could the A's get more than they got for Scott Kazmir last year, Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham (who was himself the headliner that turned into four years of Khris Davis), or will health concerns turn buyers away?
RF Josh Reddick could garner another big haul, given the lack of other quality upcoming free agent outfielders. The lack of outfielders, and the lack of a sure bet prospect, could also make credible any idea that the A’s could just hold onto the outfielder and make him a qualifying offer. The credibility of that idea can only drive up the price to acquire Reddick in trade.
RP Marc Rzepczynski has succeeded in his opportunity to show he can be more than a left-handed one out guy, and a chance to overcome last year's 5.66 ERA and absurdly low 53 percent left on base rate. Consider that last year, the A's traded Tyler Clippard for then 20-year-old Casey Meisner. While Zep doesn't have Clippard's closer credentials, he is earning a reasonable $2.95 million, and a similar sort of deal could be available.
OF Coco Crisp has automatic no trade rights as a player with ten years of major league service time, the last five of which are with the same team. Crisp is flirting with the 130 games or 550 plate appearances needed for his 2017 option to vest (he's on pace for 135 games and 551 PA), though Oakland's lengthy disabled list has been the main reason why Crisp has started so many games.
Even setting aside his no trade rights, he just hasn't been playing well enough to be a sought after player. If anything, the A’s need to acquire or call up outfielders to replace Crisp this year, because he’s playing too poorly to let his option vest.
A prediction if the A’s do sell
While the A’s probably do end up selling at the trade deadline, it’s still not yet definitive because 7.5 games isn’t an impossible gap to make up in the American League. If the A’s are sellers, I would not discount the possibility that the A’s decide to keep one or both of Rich Hill and Josh Reddick to take advantage of the last year of the current qualifying offer system. Who knows what free agent compensation will look like in the next collective bargaining agreement?
Marc Rzepczynski will find a home elsewhere, and the A’s might get a nice little return for the inexpensive left-hander who has redeemed himself from his weird 2015.
The A’s won't let Coco Crisp reach the 130 games he needs for his option to vest, and they’ll prevent that by either putting him on the disabled list or, if he manages to have a healthy season, calling up enough outfielders in August and September to leave him short of the mark.