The Oakland A’s have already made two big trades, and we all know there are more coming. Chris Bassitt is off to the Mets, and Matt Olson will spend the next eight years with the Braves, and now our attention turns to which of Oakland’s remaining stars will follow them out and where they’ll end up.
Here are the latest rumors on the other three A’s stars whose names have been tossed around all offseason, plus one who hasn’t until now.
The third baseman has plenty of suitors, and one of them is the Phillies, reported Alex Coffey of the Philadelphia Inquirer last weekend. However, so far they’ve balked at Oakland’s high demands, with Coffey adding that they’ve been “reluctant to deal” top prospects like RHP Mick Abel, SS Bryson Scott, or RHP Andrew Painter. That said, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors notes that Phillies President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowski has a reputation for trading top prospects for MLB stars, leaving room for continued speculation.
Meanwhile, the Rays “are shopping among some top-shelf options” for a right-handed hitter, “with interest” in Chapman among others, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays have one of the best farm systems in the sport, including five Top 100 prospects per MLB Pipeline, so it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a trade match.
The Phillies and Rays are only the latest teams connected to Chappy. The Yankees can be crossed off the list now that they’ve gotten Josh Donaldson, but perhaps the Mariners are still out there. Seattle showed interest back in November, and then this week they acquired Eugenio Suarez from the Reds, but for what it’s worth Suarez was a salary dump coming off a negative-WAR season — is that their plan for the hot corner in a win-now campaign? They’ve got the prospects if they want to spend them.
UPDATE: Eight minutes after this article was published, MLB insider Jon Morosi reported that the Blue Jays are finalizing a trade for Chapman, first reported by former player Carlos Baerga. Still awaiting further details.
Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas
Any number of teams could be interested in either or both of these starting pitchers, but a couple in particular popped up in actual rumors this week.
The Twins and A’s “have discussed trade proposals in recent days that would include a starting pitcher going to Minnesota,” reported Morosi on Monday, specifying Manaea and Montas as top candidates. While the report only mentions a pitcher, it’s worth noting that the Twins just traded away their third baseman (Donaldson) and are still interested in a significant infield upgrade. Their farm is middle of the pack, but they have a few Top 100 prospects.
The White Sox are also “among many teams talking to the A’s about Manaea and/or Montas,” reports insider Jon Heyman. However, they have the worst farm system in the sport according to multiple mainstream lists, which could present an obstacle to a trade match.
Montas has also drawn interest from the Rays, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. If anybody has the prospects to afford a combo of him and Chapman, it would be Tampa Bay.
Or the Mariners. Once again Seattle was mentioned back in November, though since then they signed reigning Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to lead their rotation. But they could afford whatever they want from Oakland’s shop, with several Top 100 prospects including two in the Top Ten range.
Most of the chatter this winter has revolved around the two Matts and the three pitchers. Their salaries are getting high and they’re the closest to free agency, making them the obvious trade candidates, and indeed two of the five are already gone.
But a rebuild is about more than just cutting payroll, it’s about restocking as much talent as possible for the next core. Expanding beyond that headline group, perhaps to some slightly younger stars who still have lower salaries and more years of team control remaining, would make the overall haul even bigger.
One of those other names is Laureano, and indeed he “is drawing perhaps the most attention ... among the other available A’s,” reported Rosenthal on Sunday. No suitors are specified, but it’s notable that Laureano is referred to as available, in case there was any question about how fully the roster is open for business.
There’s a valid argument that dealing him now would be selling low. He’s got the stink of his ongoing PED suspension, and his explosive ability makes it easy to envision that a breakout season could still be on the way — especially since he’s only entering age 27. But nevertheless he’s got a ton of trade value, maybe as much as Montas and Chapman combined due his lower service time and salary.
The most interesting part of the rumor mill might be the name that isn’t in it. Oakland acquired a new young catcher this week in the Olson trade, one who might debut in the majors as soon as this summer, but there haven’t been any new reports about incumbent Gold Glove backstop Sean Murphy.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t available, as it sounds like everybody is. But when the A’s picked up Shea Langeliers this week, we didn’t immediately start hearing about a bunch of talks involving Murphy. Maybe it’s coming soon! But nothing yet.
It would make complete sense to keep Murphy since he’s still a long-term piece, and complete sense to trade him since he’s now their single most valuable remaining chip. So flip a coin to make your guess about his future, but maybe use a penny rather than a quarter — we’re trying to save money here, after all.