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Elephant Rumblings: Who is the A’s most untouchable player in trades this winter?

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Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Good morning afternoon, Athletics Nation!

Major League Baseball’s offseason is underway, and we’ve already seen the first few small moves of the winter. At some point, though, serious stuff will start happening, whether it be blockbuster trades or just mega-contracts for the biggest free agents.

There’s no telling what the Oakland A’s might do, partly because we still don’t know what their budget might look like in 2021. It could be a cheap, quiet winter, or there could be exciting moves to bolster a contending roster, or there could be painful cost-cutting trades to push back the competitive window. Almost anything could realistically happen.

With that in mind, is anyone in the A’s organization a guaranteed lock to be here next season? And if so, who? Over at MLB’s site, Will Leitch identified one player on each team that is “absolutely untouchable” and definitely won’t get traded away. For the A’s, he named pitching prospect A.J. Puk.

Respectfully, I’ll disagree with that choice. Perhaps you could make a case that Puk’s value is too low due to injury and so this would be an unwise time to sell on him, but that’s not the rationale given for the pick: “He should be recovered from shoulder surgery by the start of next season, and whether he’s in the bullpen or in the rotation, he’ll be at the center of everything the A’s are doing.”

The latter part of that sentence would seem to more accurately describe Jesús Luzardo, who is already healthy and already put himself at the center of what the A’s were doing by the end of this past season — after all, he started their first playoff game. If the untouchable player is a pitching prospect, then it’s certainly him, because he’s their best realistic chance at having an ace next year. His potential is as sky-high as any young arm in the league, and the only way I could imagine trading Luzardo is in a deal that somehow nets you two Luzardos.

As for Puk, while Athletics Nation loves him, we did toss around his name in a lot of trade rumors in August and will surely do so again this winter. He could be a huge part of the A’s future, but his risk factor has skyrocketed and it’s easy to imagine a way where he benefits the team most in a trade for a win-now star (if such a swap is even still available after Puk’s latest surgery and another lost season).

If the untouchable player is a more established star, then the obvious answers would be Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Sure, either could be part of a shocking Donaldson-esque retool trade (zero days) to push the timeline back now that the new stadium has likely been delayed. However, like with Puk, this would be a terrible time to trade either.

Chapman just had surgery, which cut short an injury-hampered off-year. Olson just batted .195 in a silly small-sample season, and had his rightful Gold Glove robbed by a ridiculous system that went purely on tiny-sample advanced metrics. Their value hasn’t been lower in years, and selling low on them now would be the height of foolishness.

And what about catcher Sean Murphy? He’s more on the Luzardo side, coming off an encouraging rookie season and with a chance to be something special. On top of that, while there are other promising catchers in the organization, any of them would surely be huge downgrades in 2021. It’s extremely difficult to envision a scenario where trading Murphy now helps the team right now, unless you’re getting literally Mike Trout in exchange.

What do you think, Athletics Nation? Gotta pay the poll toll before you get to today’s links!


Who is the A’s most untouchable player this winter?

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  • 36%
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