This is part two in a series examining the top trade candidates for Oakland. Last week we looked at Matt Olson, and this week it’s Sean Manaea’s turn.
Ever since coming over from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Ben Zobrist, Sean Manaea has had high expectations foisted upon him by the fanbase as it hoped he would be one of the next leaders of a future playoff team’s pitching staff. Fast forward six years later and the fanbase is getting itself ready to say goodbye to the rare pitcher that actually spends more than half a decade in the Green & Gold. With only one final, expensive season of arbitration left under team control, Sean Manaea might be the most likely starting pitcher to be dealt by the A’s this offseason. If that happens, it will cap what many A’s fans can call an overall successful tenure by the Baby Giraffe in Oakland, from growing before our eyes to the no-hitter in 2018 to helping the A’s reach the postseason three times in a three year stretch.
With Manaea only under team control for one more season at roughly $10MM, he might have more interest from some teams than Montas or Bassitt, who would command much larger packages based on their better performances and extra season under contract. Here are the top teams that are most likely to make a play for the Throwin’ Samoan:
Angels: With the Angels reportedly aiming for the top of the market in free agency, their interest in Sean Manaea might come down to how well they did in luring one of the big arms to Los Angeles. Should they bring in Scherzer, Ray, or Stroman, the Angels might turn their attention towards other roster needs after they’ve quietly built up a decent crop of back-end rotation arms. If Los Angeles fails yet again to bring in a top free agent starting pitcher, it’s practically assured they’d turn to the trade market immediately, likely calling the A’s about all their starting pitchers, including Manaea.
Blue Jays: This Toronto team has enough offense to withstand a possible departure of former Oakland A great Marcus Semien, with reports indicating they are more likely to try to retain stud lefty Robbie Ray than Semien. Should the Blue Jays miss out on bringing Ray back for what’s expected to be an exorbitant amount of cash, Manaea would be a nice, cheaper consolation prize that could slide in right behind Ryu and Berrios in a rotation that lacks experience after the top two.
Red Sox: With the departure of Eduardo Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers, Boston’s rotation is looking thin at the moment behind Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi. Not only would Sean Manaea help stabilize the middle of the Boston rotation, he’d be an improvement over Rodriguez, who had an inconsistent 2021 at best. While Boston still has left-handed ace Chris Sale atop their rotation, they stand to lose two other left-handed starters in Rodriguez and Perez, neither of whom were great in 2021 but offered a decent left-handed starting option. With the other starting options currently on the roster right-handed, adding a lefty like Manaea would improve their rotation, maintain the balance last year’s rotation had, all while keeping a little wiggle room to add another free agent or two. The one wart that might keep Boston from seriously considering a run is Manaea's awful track record in Beantown: a 15.70 ERA in just 14 1/3 innings.
Dodgers: Between the Trevor Bauer situation, Trevor May’s recovery from Tommy John, David Price’s undetermined role, and Scherzer and Kershaw’s foray into free agency, Los Angeles is reportedly on the lookout for more starting pitching. The Dodgers are unique in that they’re already right up against the luxury-tax threshold, yet history shows that they’re one of the few teams that doesn’t mind going over it multiple years in a row. Should the Dodgers let Scherzer and Kershaw walk, don’t be surprised if Los Angeles comes calling about Manaea to be their #4 starter.
Yankees: With the rotation looking shaky at best after Cole and Montgomery, New York will likely be looking for more affordable starting pitching options than the likes of Scherzer or Ray and instead allocate resources throughout the mid-to-backend of the rotation. That might make someone like Manaea, who is projected to make roughly $10MM, a more affordable option for a team reportedly preparing to add an expensive shortstop and press close to the luxury tax. Interestingly, Manaea also has a small-sample history of success in the Bronx, having pitched to a 1.04 ERA in 17 1/3 innings.
Darkhorse- Giants: This might be the biggest long-shot because of the sparse trade history between these two franchises, but with the Giants needing to fill 80% of their rotation heading into the winter and San Francisco President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi’s connections to Oakland leadership, it’s not entirely impossible to imagine the teams at least engaging. With lots of payroll commitments coming off the books for the Giants recently, there’s actual money to spend on the other side of the Bay Area, and they might use their financial resources to bring on Manaea to help fill out their rotation and prepare to defend their division crown from the still-dangerous Dodgers.
Next up: Matt Chapman