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The Weekly Bernie, 1/16/17: Oakland A’s add veterans Trevor Plouffe and Santiago Casilla in busy week

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The A’s continued to target discount free agents this past week, while the biggest bat on the market might be closing in on a new deal with his old team.

Colorado Rockies v Oakland Athletics
Jairo!
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!

  • The A’s struck twice in free agency this past week, signing third baseman Trevor Plouffe and reliever Santiago Casilla. Plouffe’s contract is a one year deal worth about $5 million, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The signing will likely push young stud Ryon Healy from third base to first base and designated hitter. Plouffe and his 20+ home run power will likely slot into the middle of the lineup behind boppers like Healy, Stephen Vogt, and Khris Davis. Plouffe, 30, struggled in 2016 due to injuries, but from 2014-15 he was a reliable power source with plus defense at the hot corner.
  • Next, the A’s inked Jairo Garcia Santiago Casilla to a two year, $11 million deal, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The right-handed reliever, now 36, began his career shuttling up and down between the majors and minors with the A’s, but in 2010 he caught on with the Giants and never looked back. Over those seven seasons in San Francisco he posted a 2.42 ERA in almost 400 innings. Although he struggled with the long ball last season, he posted the best strikeout rate of his career, and he should be a positive addition to the A’s bullpen. He could allow the A’s to deal one of their current right-handed relievers - most likely a veteran such as John Axford or Ryan Madson.
  • Neither of these moves have yet been made official because both will require corresponding 40-man roster moves. On Friday, Alex made the case for designating outfielder Brett Eibner and righty Zach Neal for assignment. Personally, I would prefer to hang onto Eibner, and try and work out a trade of some sort. There’s a decent chance we’ll be seeing what the A’s decide to do this week.
  • Late Sunday night, the Toronto Blue Jays were nearing a deal to bring back slugger Jose Bautista, according to Sanchez. Bautista spent most of his big league career with Toronto, breaking out and becoming one of the game’s best power hitters with his monster 2010. The 36 year-old has since showed some signs of decline and struggled with injuries in 2016, playing in only 116 games. He struggled to find a suitor in free agency due to the number of similar right-handed power bats on the market, but will now be returning to his former club as they gear up and try for their third consecutive playoff appearance.
  • Jon Heyman’s favorite day of the year, the arbitration filing deadline, was on Sunday. The A’s avoided arbitration by agreeing to one year deals with righties Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks, as well as catcher Stephen Vogt. That leaves outfielder Khris Davis as the A’s only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player. According to Heyman, Davis filed at $5 million while the A’s filed at $4.65 million. Other notable players that have yet to agree to contracts include Dellin Betances, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, Shelby Miller, Marcus Stroman, and Tony Watson. For more on arbitration news around the league, check out MLBTR’s 2017 Arbitration Tracker.
  • The San Diego Padres had a very busy week as well. They have agreed to terms on a six year contract extension worth more than $80 million with star first baseman Wil Myers, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Myers, 26, had a huge breakout year for the Padres in 2016, swatting 28 home runs while also swiping 28 bags. He was the 2013 American League Rookie of the Year with the Rays, but struggled with injuries and performance the next two seasons before rediscovering himself last year. The club also inked infielder Yangervis Solarte to a two year contract with two club options. Solarte, a versatile switch-hitting infielder, will receive a guaranteed $7.5 million over the first two seasons with options at $5.5 million and $8 million. Finally, the club signed righty Trevor Cahill to a one year deal, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Cahill, who started his career in Oakland and has since become a reliever, will now have an opportunity to start for the Padres.
  • Former Athletic Tyson Ross has agreed to a one year, $6 million contract with the Texas Rangers, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Ross made only one start in 2016 due to shoulder injuries, and it is unclear when he will be ready to throw again. However, when healthy, Ross is a very good pitcher and could be a solid gamble for Texas.

Bernie’s Weekly Deal: Jesse Hahn (and Zach Neal?) to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Kevin Kramer and Gage Hinsz

Jesse Hahn doesn’t fit on the A’s current roster, or even in the A’s organization. The righty has great stuff and showed considerable upside in 2014 and 2015, but he was simply atrocious both in the majors and in Triple-A in 2016. The A’s have plenty of young starting pitching depth that has passed Hahn on the depth chart, and at this point the roster spot is worth more to the A’s than Hahn himself.

The Pirates have a reputation for fixing talented arms, and would make a good fit for the 27 year-old. In exchange, they would send two interesting low-minors prospects to Oakland. Kevin Kramer is a 23 year-old second baseman that hit well in High-A in 2016. The left-handed hitter doesn’t have much power, but makes good contact and could profile as a solid utility player. Hinsz is a projectable 20 year-old with a low-nineties fastball and the potential to throw harder, He would be a project, but could develop into a mid-rotation arm if everything breaks right.

What to expect this week:

Jose Bautista’s contract should be finalized soon, as well as Wil Myers’ extension. The A’s could also make both of their free agent signings official, including the corresponding roster moves. Free agents such as Jason Hammel and Mike Napoli could also find a home.

That’s all for this week. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!