It wouldn’t be a trade deadline without some irresponsible and utterly inaccurate speculation. But first I just want to say, in the face of a disappointing finish to the 4-game series at Minnesota, how proud I am of my A’s for the way they battled, scratched, clawed, and nearly pulled off back to back miracles.
Sunday’s game had all the makings of a lopsided yawner, but relentless web gems from Matt Olson and Marcus Semien, terrific at bats getting Michael Pineda out of the game and then wearing down the relievers, and 4 runs manufactured absent the long ball, and somehow the A’s were in position to win. What a series and what a rematch it would be in October.
As for the trading deadline, now just 9 days away, let’s take a look at some of the names in the mix, with my assessment of what it would take and how likely it is that such a deal could occur.
Madison Bumgarner: Very Unlikely
Bumgarner is arguably the best SP on the market but I don’t think he will wind up in the green and gold, partly because the Giants’ recent surge, a baffling 15-3 in their last 18 games, has pushed them all the way to .500 and only 2.5 back of the second wild card.
Though Farhan Zaidi insists he is neither a clear buyer, seller, or stander pat, you have to think the “Bochy factor” — that the venerable manager is in his last season — will ultimately sway the front office to hang onto Bumgarner and pursue a wild card berth. And you can’t exactly blame a team once it is within 2.5 games with 62 to play.
However, the Giants could have a terrible week and if the price is right Zaidi could be compelled to move his finest trade chip. If I’m the Giants and the A’s come calling, I’m not interested in acquiring a handful of decent prospects (e.g., Dustin Fowler, Sheldon Neuse) for Bumgarner. I want one really good prospect, and with Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, and Sean Murphy off the table that match is probably Franklin Barreto.
Barreto is a fascinating case with his 5-tool skills and repeated small sample failures making him a polarizing prospect. In all probability Zaidi’s familiarity with Barreto means he either believes in him as a budding star who will make that final leap to put it all together, or he is in the camp opining that Barreto is a bust in star’s clothing and wants no part of him.
If Zaidi is a Barreto-believer (would he produce a manifesto on his behalf?), a straight up Bumgarner-Barreto swap has the makings of a fair deal for both sides. But such a move would require the Giants to decide to move Bumgarner, the Giants to believe in Barreto, and the A’s not to. Seems like a deal that will never be made, even if it’s the deal that would be made if a deal were made.
Tanner Roark: Perfectly Possible
If the A’s do wind up dipping into the market for a starting pitcher, it will probably be less of an ace and more of an under-the-radar-steal type, something they hope they have unearthed with Homer Bailey.
Roark has always struck me as a typical A’s find, a guy who was practically invisible in Washington behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez, but who quietly has been excellent for years.
Start with the fact that the durable Roark is on pace to pass 30 starts and 180 IP for the fourth straight season, then continue with his being consistently competitive (career 3.63 ERA, 2.57 BB/9 IP). He’s a Fiers type mid-rotation pitcher with a better track record than Fiers had when the A’s acquired him.
Best of all, the asking price for Roark is nothing like it would be for Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman. And with the Reds stumbling badly out of the All-Star break, now 9 games under .500, they are sellers at the deadline if they’re smart.
A rental, to procure Roark the A’s would probably only have to part with a single decent prospect from the list of “good but expendable” chips Oakland has to offer. According to BTV, any of Fowler, Neuse, or Jorge Mateo would be an overpay, but SPs tend to get overpaid for in late July, so let’s assume it would require one of those guys to add Roark to the A’s 2019 rotation.
Seems like a good move for Cincinnati and a smart use of one of those trade chips for the A’s. Note that I am a Roark fan and would not be opposed to the A’s talking about an extension, as they did with Fiers, knowing that regardless of how stacked the 2020 rotation looks right now it probably won’t look that way then.
Relievers: Shane Greene, Ken Giles?
If there is one thing I am confident in predicting, it’s that the A’s will add a reliever by month’s end. Shane Greene seems like a natural fit, being affordably attainable, having a great year, and playing for a Tigers team in need of a wide variety of prospects. Greene also comes with the advantage of being controllable beyond 2019.
Perhaps a deal centered around Mateo or Fowler (each with comparable value according to BTV), or even a high upside lower level prospect (might the A’s dangle Lazarito, with Austin Beck on a similar trajectory and RH OFers in Piscotty, Laureano, Canha, and Pinder all under contract for years?), comes together.
Second Base? Anyone?
The A’s have some quantity at 2B, with Barreto and Profar each vying for the same playing time and neither getting in regularly, but as time passes one gets the strong sense that the sheen on both is ever fading.
It’s as if the A’s keep playing one of them and then after watching them play, they decide that as important as these games are they need to play the other one — only after watching the other one, they decide that as important as these games are they need to play...
This wouldn’t be the first time Oakland acquired a new middle infielder late in the game, as they rolled to the post-season with Stephen Drew in 2012 shifting Cliff Pennington over to 2B. It is also vintage A’s to zag, and with all the attention on SP and RP perhaps they find the shrewdest upgrade to be a “none of the above” 2Bman.
Eric Sogard has been the subject of trade talks of late and checks a lot of boxes: he bats LH, plays excellent defense, and has contact skills that would be complementary to the A’s mashing lineup. His team is also 6-0 this year in games involving the A’s, so apparently he’s good luck in a twisted kind of way.
Perhaps the Blue Jays, looking to spruce up their pitching depth, take a look at Parker Dunshee or Brian Howard, then opt for the upside of Grant Holmes in drawing their line in the sand.
In sum, how would you feel if in the coming week the A’s went a little crazy a few times and it went like this:
Roark to the A’s for one of Fowler, Neuse, or Mateo
Greene to the A’s for Lazarito
Sogard to the A’s for Holmes
All overpays according to BTV, but you tend to overpay when you’re buying in July and I’m not sure any of those deals is a bad one for the A’s in their current situation — and in aggregate the team enters August considerably improved for 2019, as well as with an improved bullpen for 2020.
Worry not, none of this will happen as the moment I put a trade idea in writing it is destined not to happen. Watch not one of these players be included in any deal involving the A’s. But it’s still fun to think about and talk about while we wait to see what actually happens. Your thoughts?
Which trade would you most like to see?
This poll is closed
Bumgarner for Barreto, make it happen!
Roark for one of Fowler, Neuse, Mateo, worth it!
Greene for Lazarito, do it!
Sogard for Holmes, yes!
All of them!
None of them!