Day one of Major League Baseball’s 113th annual winter meetings went to the Chicago White Sox. They were the big winners coming up with a big trade with the Oakland A’s for right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija as well as signing another right hander, David Robertson, to the largest contract ever given to a relief pitcher.
It appears as though general manager Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics could be seen as the losers of day one and maybe they were. They traded a legitimate 30-plus home run, left handed, power hitter in Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians straight up for a minor leaguer.
They then traded one of the league’s premier right-handers Jeff Samardzija, as well as pitcher Michael Ynoa to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Chris Bassitt, infielder Marcus Semien, catcher Josh Phegley and first baseman Rangel Ravelo according to MLB. com and Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle.
A third player also likely to be in that deal for Samardzija, source tells the Chronicle. So Bassitt, Semien, third player to #Athletics.
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 9, 2014
The A’s say they aren’t having a fire sale and they are not rebuilding but they have to say that don’t they? Their few tenured players don’t want to hear that.
More than a few teams are going “all-in” to win. They’re all acquiring high-priced talent. From the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in the A.L. East, to the White Sox in the A.L. Central and the A.L. West is just unbelievably competitive.
Even if the A’s had left their 2014 team completely in place, even with Jon Lester, there is a good chance they could miss the playoffs. The A’s only made the playoffs by a single game. Besides the American League teams already mentioned, the Seattle Mariners have improved with the growth of Kyle Seager & addition of Nelson Cruz to their lineup.
The Los Angeles Angels, who led the A’s in the A.L. West by 11 games at the end of the season, are staying put. The Rangers whose season last year had to be an anomaly, simply because no team gets that many injuries in a year, will likely be coming back strong in 2015.
There are five playoff spots per league so when you add in the Red Sox, White Sox, Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals and even the Detroit Tigers or the Tampa Bay Rays into the mix with the A.L. West, it makes for a lot of teams who have a legitimate chance to take the two Wild Card spots.
If Beane had left the team intact, would they have a chance to compete for the Wild Card? Absolutely. However, looking at the A’s playoff record in the past 15 seasons, having gone to the postseason eight times and only gotten past the first round once, you have to at least ask the question, “is it really worth keeping everyone now while all these other teams are so competitive?”
All that money would be spent (and we know the A’s owners aren’t going to give them more, they may have billions but they don’t care about the A’s), just for the possibility of maybe being the Wild Card?
Might it not be better to acquire younger players now, accumulate and develop talent and be ready to compete seriously in a couple years? When the rest of the A.L. West is starting to age and slow down a bit?
It makes a lot of sense to me. With so much parity in the league there are so many teams who feel like they can contend right now, it’s a buyers market out there.
When the league zigs, Billy Beane zags (as one of the analysts put it on MLB Network). So in a market of buyers the A’s have become the only real sellers. Let it be. The trend will reverse at some point and that is when the A’s can strike.
They almost have over the past two or three seasons. It just wasn’t exactly in the cards. Who saw them losing the Wild Card to the Royals with a 7-3 lead and Jon Lester still on the mound mid-game?
On MLB Network, Slusser says that Beane says he is being “proactive” and that could very well be true. It just might work. She likened it to,everyone’s favorite person to hate, partial A’s owner Lew Wolff’s analogy about owning a hotel, that you want to fix the carpet before anyone notices because once someone notices it’s too late.
My comparison to that might be to look at the Philadelphia Phillies and their problem of having too many aging players at once. Yes, they were able to win a World Series in 2008 but they also have more money to work with than Oakland does.
They signed a lot of stars then to long term deals, like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, guys whose careers are reaching the beginning of the end. Now they’re stuck in the cellar and probably will be for the foreseeable future.
They waited until it was a little bit too late to start revamping their squad and now their only real viable trade chip is left-handed starter Cole Hamels who will no doubt bring in a great return but not a return large enough to fill an entire team.
This is mostly speculation on my part, of course. Beane could be acquiring a bunch of pieces to make a big trade with. It’s a possibility but in my opinion not a probable one.
The A’s and their fans may have to suffer through a couple losing seasons but history tells us that Beane will soon put together a team worthy of the postseason and hopefully the World Series.