A $40 million dollar payroll, eh? Challenge accepted. Even before reading that report, the writing was on the wall for at least a major teardown of this current core. But once I heard 40, I figured we may as well go all the way.
The trades are the main aspect of this plan, where I’ll spend the majority of the time and writing. The Free Agency aspect will be more general thoughts than a strict plan of action.
As far as Rule V protection, the only obvious candidate is Nick Allen, but I’m also going to protect Cody Thomas and Jordan Diaz as intriguing prospects coming off of solid years.
I also opted to non-tender Chad Pinder and Adam Kolarek. I like Pinder’s versatility (and I still have a gut feeling that he would thrive with regular at-bats), but I will need the projected $3M arbitration salary in order to stay within the $40M budget. Kolarek is older and did not perform well either in Oakland or the Las Vegas Bandbox…I mean, Ballpark.
I tried to target a mix of players in terms of ETA, upside, and position, all in hopes that it will create a consistent churn of prospects similar to the Rays model. I also strove to bring these as close to balance as possible in BTV, while *hopefully* making sense for both sides.
C Sean Murphy (65.2) to the Miami Marlins for IF Kahlil Watson (25.0), RHP Max Meyer (22.2), RHP Edward Cabrera (14.3), and LHP Dax Fulton (3.3) - While it may be wholly unnecessary to move Murphy at this moment, the incredibly thin free agent market and limited obvious trade candidates make Murphy an elite trade candidate for many teams in need of catching upside. Miami’s ready to make moves and are razor-thin at catcher, and they have the pitching capital to do it. It’ll also come at the cost of 1st round pick Kahlil Watson, who has All-star potential. Cabrera immediately slots in the A’s rotation, with Meyer not far behind, both with mid-rotation or higher upside. Fulton is a 2nd round pick whose 2021 was a mixed bag, but still has plenty of time to right the ship.
1B Matt Olson (45.3) and OF Seth Brown (3.3) to the Cleveland Guardians for IF Tyler Freeman (24.8), IF Gabriel Arias (20.6), and LHP Logan Allen (5.3) - Cleveland has the desire to compete, void at first, prospect depth, and the 40-man crunch for this deal to make some sense. Freeman has a balanced bat and a low strike out rate, and he becomes our 2nd baseman as soon as the end of '22. Arias has the highest upside in his bat while also having a cannon and string defense. He and Nick Allen can fight for SS, but I anticipate Arias moving to 3rd so long as Allen's bat is at least playable. Logan Allen had a breakout year and should slot into the rotation as soon as September.
RHP Frankie Montas (39.6) to the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Josh Lowe (25.1), IF Xavier Edwards (11.9), LHP Brendan McKay (1.8), LHP Josh Lopez (0.7) - while he’d be appealing to practically any contending team, Montas' salary and control seems a perfect fit for Tampa. Lowe is their top OF prospect and slides immediately into the Oakland outfield. He has a bat you can dream on and hopefully he can stick in center. Edwards becomes our super-sub of the future or a fallback in CF if Lowe can’t stay there defensively, with his speed and contact abilities keeping him in the lineup consistently. The pitchers are lottery tickets, but they always seem to be winners in Tampa, so I’m willing to roll the dice. Lopez’ wipeout slider (and the strikeouts it induces) makes it seem that he’s at worst a multi-inning relief option, and he can be there sooner than later. McKay is recovering from injury, but if he comes back close to his normal self, it’s the perfect buy-low pickup.
IF Matt Chapman (24.5) to the Los Angeles Dodgers for IF Miguel Vargas (20.2), RHP Landon Knack (2.6), LHP Robinson Ortiz (1.2), and RHP Gavin Stone (1.1)- this deal lives and dies with the Universal DH coming to the NL, which I feel is a sure thing. Chapman and his elite glove allows Justin Turner to be a full-time DH in the last year of his deal. Meanwhile, the A’s get Vargas as a middle-of-the-order bat without middle-of-the-order strikeout numbers. He becomes the 1B of the future, as soon as 2022. Knack and his excellent walk rate becomes an MLB-ready high-floor rotation option. Ortiz and Stone are upper-level lottery tickets coming off of good years. Both could be starters, but may be better suited as relievers if their stuff plays up in shorter stints.
LHP Sean Manaea (18.5) to the New York Mets for RHP Matt Allan (12.8), OF Khalil Lee (4.5), and RHP Jose Butto (1.1) - the Mets are in desperate need of starting pitching if they hope to contend (with all the strange Mets chatter being that they will). This move may be the most risky, as much of it hinges on Allan’s recovery from Tommy John surgery. If he recovers and rebounds to his previous abilities, then he becomes a top-of-the-rotation arm. Khalil Lee slots in immediately into the Oakland outfield, and he’ll have plenty of opportunities for his Three-True-Outcomes to work or not. Butto needs a 3rd pitch to remain a starter, but his fastball-changeup combo could make for an interesting relief option (think Devin Williams-lite).
RHPs Chris Bassitt (17.0) and Lou Trivino (1.1) to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Emerson Hancock (16.7) and OF Gabriel Gonzalez (2.4) - a major league team needing to trade legitimate talent and a GM who loves to make moves in win-now mode? Something with Seattle makes a lot of sense. Emerson Hancock has at least mid-rotation upside, and should be a fixture in the A’s rotation by 2023. Gonzalez is a young outfield prospect who’s a long ways off, but whose tools and athleticism give him a bright future.
The payroll after these trades is now at roughly $35 million, leaving $5M to reach the targeted payroll of $40M.
These names are based on the Free Agent List on MLBTR and the Non-Tender candidates on BTV. There’s obvious needs at SP, RP, C, 1B, 3B, and maybe corner OF. However, there’s not much payroll space to do this. If any of these potential-upside players can be had on minor-league deals (with legitimate paths to major league playing time) or a low-salary major-league deal, I think they’d be worth a shot.
SP - Sean Newcomb, Caleb Smith, Reynaldo Lopez, Trevor Williams, Brett Anderson, Chris Archer, Jake Woodford, Ross Stripling
RP – Mike Foltynewicz, Jesse Hahn, Sean Doolittle, Keone Kela, Daniel Bard, Trevor Rosenthal, Alex Colome, Nick Wittgren, Brad Wieck, Wandy Peralta,
C – Willians Astudillo, Zack Collins, Stephen Vogt, Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco
1B – Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw
3B – Colin Moran, Sheldon Neuse, Jake Lamb, Jonathan Villar
OF – Alex Dickerson, Corey Dickerson, Kole Calhoun, Gregory Polanco
Beyond any particular names, I think the A’s should be creative. Offer lots of minor league deals because playing time should be plentiful in 2022. Take a chance on a Rule V player, maybe even two. There’s nothing to lose on moves like these this year.
2022 Opening Day Roster
SP – Kaprielian, Irvin, Cabrera, Jefferies, Anderson (FA)
RP – Puk, Guerra, Acevedo, Blackburn, Romero, Doolittle, Rosenthal, Kela
C – Astudillo, Allen
IF – Kemp, Machin, Andrus, Aguilar, Shaw, Rule V signing
OF – Laureano (post-suspension), Lowe, Piscotty, Lee, Barrera
Key Promotions in 2022
Tyler Freeman, Gabriel Arias, Brendan McKay, Jacob Lopez, Nick Allen, Emerson Hancock, Xavier Edwards, Logan Allen, Max Meyer, Miguel Vargas
I’m very interested to know what you think of this plan, so please comment below. Thanks for your time!