Perhaps the headline gave away my current infatuation with Trayce Thompson. "Oh sure, because he's Klay's brother..." No, actually, because he's just what the A's need and could maybe possibly be attainable this month.
Backing up, the long view of July, known as "shopping season" to the A's, despite a recent mini-resurgence that stalled last night Oakland is squarely in "finish the rebuild" mode looking ahead to 2017-2020. That means a sure trade of Rich Hill, who will get two starts before the All-Star break, plus 3-4 after, to reassure suitors that he is still the market's top SP. Josh Reddick is probably either extended or traded in the next 4 weeks and possibly his fate is intertwined with that of Danny Valencia, under contract through 2017.
It's hard to see the A's arguing relevance in 2017 if they trade all 3 but if Reddick were to be extended that might open the door for a Valencia deal. Either way Hill is almost certainly gone and that's where I have set my "holy grail" sights on Trayce Thompson.
Thompson, 25, was dealt from the White Sox to the Dodgers this off-season. Under contract control through 2021 and already in the big leagues producing, Thompson is part of a crowded Dodgers outfield that could render him expendable: Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson, and Yasiel Puig are the main cogs, leaving Thompson on the weak side of a CF platoon with Pederson.
Nonetheless Thompson is an accomplished OFer who, according to Fangraphs, has done his best work in CF. At the plate he has shown some pop and some plate discipline, checking in this season at .235/.316/.456 following an excellent cup of coffee (122 ABs) with the 2015 White Sox (.295/.363/.533).
Meanwhile the Dodgers sit in striking distance of the division, currently 6 games back of the EvenYears, but their rotation is a mess. Their disabled list is pretty good (Brett Anderson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy) and Clayton Kershaw is out-of-this-world -- and also now out of commission until further notice with back problems -- and that means leaning on the likes of Bud Norris and 19-year old Julio Urias to complement Scott Kazmir (4.67 ERA) and Kenta Maeda.
No question the Dodgers will buyers this month, looking for a SP, and Hill will be as attractive a target as the market has to offer. What is unknown is how much the Dodgers are willing to give in order to bolster their 2016 rotation. Thompson would be a great get for Oakland, yet without him Los Angeles still has a full outfield (Vill Venable and Scott Van Slyke are also in the mix), just not a RH platoon partner in CF for Pederson.
That's my dream scenario: that the Dodgers are aggressively buying a SP at the deadline, that they're willing to part with Thompson, and that the Forst-Zaidi speed dial is in full force.
As for Valencia, I like the idea of keeping him in the 2017 mix for now knowing he will still be an attractive trade chip next season. However, it's the Mets who could probably convince me to deal him if they dangled Amed Rosario, an incredibly talented 20 year old SS who is making Advanced A and AA look easy. 22 year old 2Bman Dilson Herrera would also be enough to get me to part with Valencia. Otherwise, I'm happy to keep Valencia in the 2017 mix holding third base down for Matt Chapman's arrival and giving the A's a shot at a respectable lineup next season, especially in a scenario where Josh Reddick is dealt.
My dream scenario? Hill for Thompson, Reddick extended (3/$45M?), and Valencia for Rosario, Herrera, or bust. Is it plausible? That's a harder question to answer than, "Have the A's ever done anything close to what I thought of?" That one is an easy no. Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy month.