Happy Tuesday, everyone!
The Winter Meetings are up and going and nothing major has happened yet. The slow beginning to the off-season continues as no major names have signed and no major trades have been made. Hopefully these meetings at least lay the groundwork for more action later in the off-season. It’s been boring so far but it’ll pick up sooner than later, and things might start happening in quick succession after the first domino falls.
But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any news to come out of the meetings already, and there are a couple tidbits about the Athletics that got reported yesterday evening.
First, we got a smidgen of news from an old friend in Susan Slusser, who now writes for our rival across the Bay. Even though she’s on the other side we here at AN still love her:
I was in the David Forst media scrum today and he says the team isn’t moving Blackburn or Brown.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 4, 2023
That is a particularly interesting little morsel of news right there. Paul Blackburn was an All-Star just one year ago and had an interesting season in 2023. An injury interrupted his ramp up into the season but he still posted roughly league-average numbers over 20 starts (103 2⁄3 innings). The club evidently likes what it sees in Pauly B and wants to see what he can do with a full, healthy offseason.
Brownie, meanwhile, is coming off a much tougher season that saw him take a step back at the plate. He hit fewer home runs, saw his slash line decline across the board, and was almost completely inept against left-handed pitchers. There was even speculation that Brown could be either non-tendered or traded, because there are a lot of younger, higher-upside players that need playing time in 2024. The club is sticking with Brown for the time being, hoping that he may bounce back in some form in the first half. At that point, with the club where it is, he’d be a trade candidate anyways. Brownie’s days with the A’s are numbered.
In another piece of news regarding the makeup of next year’s team, we learned straight from the horse’s mouth that the club is temporarily scuttling Mason Miller as a starting pitcher:
From session with A's GM David Forst at Winter Meetings: A's are looking at a bullpen role for top pitching prospect Mason Miller in 2024, possibly in a closer role. Move back to starting not ruled out, but club would like to see him get through a full season healthy first.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) December 5, 2023
While they claim that the door to returning to a starting job isn’t off the table in the future, it’s uncommon for a pitcher to be moved to the bullpen but then returning to a starting role. It happens, but with Miller it feels like the club may be anticipating this being a long-term thing.
Miller was mentioned as a potential closer, a role that he no doubt would thrive in. Spring Training would be useful in helping him get used to the role as a bullpen arm, something he hasn’t really done in his professional career yet. Still, getting Miller through a full season healthy would be a tremendous boost for an Athletics club desperate for better pitching. Let’s hope this move to the bullpen helps keep him healthy and prepares him for a possible rotation job in 2025. Seems so far away, doesn’t it?
And to wrap it all up, we got the MLB Draft Lottery coming up tonight. As the worst team in the league, the A’s have a great chance at the first overall pick. Then again, they had a great chance last year and got a tough draw at #6. Hopefully things go a little better this year. They’ll have a 18.3% chance at the first pick, same as the Royals and Rockies. Fingers crossed!
MLB News & Interest:
- Brewers resign Wade Miley
- Uncertainty of A’s home a factor in free agent talks
- Tyler O’Neil likely odd-man out in St. Louis outfield, could be traded
- Dave Roberts: Betts likely “everyday” second baseman
- Phillies extend manager Rob Thomson
- Braves likely to trade Marco Gonzales
- Today in Baseball History
Best of X:
Protégé speaks on his mentor:
Mark Kotsay reacts to Bob Melvin becoming the Giants' manager and discusses how he has continued to be a "mentor" for him pic.twitter.com/uzs96iQD2w— NBC Sports Bay Area & CA (@NBCSAuthentic) December 5, 2023
He’ll do great wherever he decides to plant roots down:
Mark Kotsay calls his interview process with the Mets a good learning experience but affirms he’s an “Oakland Athletic through-and-through” pic.twitter.com/wMYDSAy0g8— A's on NBCS (@NBCSAthletics) December 5, 2023
A hope for the #1 pick?
A's will have legend Dave Stewart representing them in tomorrow's MLB Draft lottery. Looking for better luck than last year's, when they ended up with the No. 6 pick.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) December 5, 2023
The Ballers will be opening their season in Montana on May 21. Their home opener will be June 4 against a yet-to-be-announced Northern California expansion team.— Jason Burke (@ByJasonB) December 4, 2023