Congrats on making in through the long season, everyone! Gascans, terrible defense, Zach Neals, Michael Bradys, and Josh Smiths, but at least the final bit of the season provided some glimmer of hope. With these offseason plan, the focus will be on enhancing and supplementing that talent, not completely overhauling the team. Here it goes:
Khris Davis - $11.1 million - tender
Marcus Semien - $3.2 million - tender
Kendall Graveman - $2.6 million - tender
Blake Treinen - $2.3 million - tender
Chris Hatcher - $2.2 million - tender
Liam Hendriks - $1.9 million - tender
Josh Phegley - $1.1 million - tender
Jake Smolinski - $700k - non-tender
Davis, Semien, Graveman, and Treinen are no-brainers. If the team wants to compete in 2018, they will be big parts of the core. Hatcher will be tendered, even though he does not make my final bullpen. Hatcher is no Wade Davis, but $2.2 million also isn’t $60 million. In case of injury or any improvements, it’s hard not to keep a 95 mph heater with prior success. Hendriks hasn’t been dominant, but he’s cheap, throws hard, and has good peripherals. I can envision him as a fireman. Phegley I don’t have on my final roster either, but he’s a good defender who hits hard flyballs. Should at least keep around to compete for a spot. Smolinski is a personal favorite of mine, but platoon outfielders, unlike good catchers, are a dime a dozen. Bringing him back on a minor league deal would be nice, but not necessary.
1- Sign CC Sabathia for 2 years, $28 million
As much as new CC differs from CC of old, he’s still a solid mid-rotation arm with playoff experience and leadership skills. Being a Vallejo native, it’s hard to see Oakland not being a fit for him personally. He provides a veteran presence for Manaea, Graveman, and all the other up-and-coming arms, and will eat innings as well.
Other fits for this role: Jason Vargas, Hisashi Iwakuma.
2- Sign Brandon Morrow for 3 years, $26 million
Morrow fits the Madson mold, a right-handed reliever coming off a bounceback year from injuries. Morrow allowed no home runs in 2017, along with elite strikeout and walk rates. He’d be a great fit setting up Treinen and creating a lockdown bullpen.
Other fits for this role: Anthony Swarzak, Bryan Shaw, Steve Cishek, and my personal favorite, Chris Martin. Martin is like Miles Mikolas, but the reliever version. Strong track record in AAA, good peripherals despite bad performance in MLB, and then absolute dominance in Japan. He’ll be cheaper than Morrow, but riskier.
3- Sign Austin Jackson for 2 years, $14 million
Jackson would be much better on a one year deal, but given his success this season, it’s hard not seeing him go for security. As several commenters pointed out, he was a former 5 WAR threat, but now a strong platoon piece. He’ll get a Joyce-type contract, and is a great complement to our young lefty outfielders.
Other fits for this role: Cameron Maybin, Carlos Gomez, Jayson Werth, Jose Bautista.
4- Sign Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal with incentives running up to $6 million
Essentially, capture a former #2 pitcher and try to catch lightning in a bottle. Low risk, high reward. Fastball velocity was down in 2017, but he’s been an enigma for years, who knows when he might bounce back.
Other fits for this role: Drew Hutchinson, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Chatwood
5- Sign Kevin Siegrist to a minor league deal.
Siegrist, a former top reliever in a vaunted Cardinals pen, fell off a cliff this season. He was waived by the Cardinals, claimed by the Phillies, then outrighted off the roster when none of the other 29 teams claimed him. This says something about his current state, but he’s only a year removed from being a shutdown bullpen arm. There’s no harm giving him a shot to bounce back.
Other fits for this role: Robbie Ross, Ian Krol
6- Inquire on Po-Jung Wang
Here’s where I make things interesting. I fully expect Oakland to, along with the other 29 teams, make an effort at Shohei Otani this offseason. He’s young, cheap, and the most interesting man in baseball. We’d all be ecstatic if Oakland could land him, but O.co Rickey Henderson Field is not exactly the hotspot destination for free agents. So here’s what I propose: ask the Lamigo Monkeys of the CPBL about the Taiwanese Bryce Harper, 24-year-old Po-Jung Wang.
Wang won the Quadruple Crown, leading the league in hits on top of average, homers, and RBIs. He slashed .414/.476/.689 with 29 homers in 2016, and then .407/.491/.700 with 31 homers in 2017 in back-to-back MVP campaigns. Yes, the CPBL equivalent is something like the Cal League, both with the awful pitchers and humid environment (league avg: .288/.357/.442), but anyone with Wang’s slash line deserves a look, period. He’s the best player in the league, by far, his 191 wRC+ 43 points higher than anyone else. On top of that, he’s the second-best defensive outfielder in the league, behind former Red Sox farmhand/defensive wizard Che-Hsuan Lin, and can swipe a couple bags as well. He reportedly has offers to play in the NPB and turned down MLB offers as an amateur, so he definitely has pedigree. The CPBL has only imported one player in league history, lefty reliever Fu-Te Ni. A possible Wang deal will likely not surpass what Jung-Ho Kang got coming out of Korea. Maybe he will sign, maybe he won’t. But it doesn’t hurt to at least ask.
In case you aren’t convinced, here are all 178 of his hits this season, with home run distances included. You’ll notice some 400+ ft bombs to opposite field, and a swing that’s quite Griffey-esque if you look past the set-up. Oh, and did I mention he just turned 24?
7- Matt Joyce to Cardinals for Andrew Knizner and Oscar Mercado
Joyce becomes redundant when Fowler comes up, and his value can’t be higher, with a cheap contract and quality production. While the Cardinals have an outfielder surplus, they are all right-handed, and they should be looking for a lefty bat. With Molina and Carson Kelly ahead of him, Knizner is an extra asset. He’s hit well in the minors and has a strong arm, although his receiving needs polish as a recent convert from third base. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen says Knizner is not far behind Kelly in his eyes, so he’d be a solid target. Mercado is a young outfielder blocked by their logjam. He’s toolsy and has 70-grade speed, so he’d be an interesting get.
Other fits for Joyce: Orioles, Blue Jays
8- Ryon Healy to Yankees for Jonathan Holder
Healy, unlike Joyce, probably does not have tremendous value. He’ll probably land a decent, controllable reliever with upside, and with the Yankees surplus, Jonathan Holder is a solid option. He’s a strikeout artist with a live fastball and hard slider, with the ability to go multiple innings if needed. The Yankees could use Healy to platoon with Greg Bird. Other Yankee arms to look at include Giovanny Gallegos or Ben Heller, but Holder is my man.
Other fits for Healy: Royals, Giants
9- Brett Graves to Brewers for Andrew Susac
Susac is a right-handed hitting catcher to platoon with Maxwell, and compete with Phegley and/or Garneau for a spot. Formerly a highly touted catching prospect, Susac has never had the opportunity to play full-time and perform. He is blocked by three other catchers in Milwaukee, and Graves should intrigue them given his tick in K-rate this past season.
Other cheap righty catcher options: Kevin Plawecki, Rene Rivera, Geovany Soto
10- Jesse Hahn to Marlins for Derek Dietrich
Given that the Marlins are selling, they might be willing to move Dietrich, a bat-first utility infielder. While the Marlins aren’t compelled to move him given his cheap contract, they have no real use for him and could utilize Hahn as a change-of-scenery candidate. Dietrich is a league-average hitter and not a great defender, but he’ll give the A’s a flexible player who can play both the grass and the dirt, sort of like a lefty-hitting Chad Pinder.
Other utility options: Cory Spangenberg
11- Santiago Casilla to Phillies for Jacob Waguespack
I have no idea whether or not Waguespack is any good. His name is on RosterResource for the Phillies and that is all I care about. Bye-bye Casilla, thank you very much. Also his name is Jacob Waguespack.
Given these moves, the lineup could look something like this:
RF Fowler (hopefully Wang)
Bench: Susac, Pinder, Nunez, Jackson
Bench: Maxwell, Dietrich, Powell, Fowler
Depth: Mengden, Cotton, Blackburn, Gossett, Kaprielian, Puk, Holmes, Fillmyer
Treinen (R- CL)
Holder (R- High Leverage)
Hendriks (R- Fireman)
In case of injury: Hatcher, Castro, Montas, Wahl, Moll, Bassitt