Recently I wrote that the Oakland A’s were fairly set for next season, that they wouldn’t have much room left on the roster to go after more than one, perhaps two, free agents.
Yet they do have a piece or two missing and it couldn’t hurt to bring in another veteran to support two-time all-star catcher Stephen Vogt in teaching the new young A’s team how to navigate playing everyday in the major leagues.
The A’s could use another power bat. Even with rookies ready to help out in the outfield, designated hitter position and at first base, the A’s might prefer to a have more proven veteran that is able to handle each of those positions.
It’s highly likely that the Athletics will re-sign their only free agent, relief pitcher John Axford, however if they do not, will most likely choose to look inside the organization to replace him.
We’ve see the power that Khris Davis has been able to bring this season, hitting more than 40 home runs. We’ve also seen the potential power of rookie Ryon Healy who has hit 13 home runs since being called up in July, one of which was one of the longest hit of the 2016 season at 480 feet.
Still, the sample size on Healy is small and it would be helpful to have another power threat in the lineup to protect Davis. The A’s can likely find this individual through free agency.
With money coming off their books since the departure of outfielder Coco Crisp to Cleveland, the A’s may be able to afford to spend enough to get, not a top name free agent like Edwin Encarnacion, but certainly one with experience and power who can play the needed positions.
I mentioned names like the Cardinals’ Brandon Moss, the Mariners’ Adam Lind and the Rays’ Logan Morrison as potential candidates. However after more extensive research on Moss, Lind, Morrison and more of the free agents on the market who seemed to fit the bill, it quickly became obvious that there was one player who stood out as a great candidate for the A’s and it’s not someone anyone, at least on the west coast, would really even think of.
Almost every other candidate had their drawbacks such as being a lefty hitter or not having ever played in the outfield and almost all of them struggled when it came to on-base percentage, something that the A’s ranked 28th out of the 30 MLB clubs in during the 2016 season.
This somewhat surprising but great match for the club could have even more skills that could really help the Athletics in 2017.
The player is Sean Rodriguez of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Most of you are probably thinking, “Who? And where and what position does he play?” Which are fair questions, even for the most knowledgeable of baseball fans.
A long-time member of the Tampa Bay Rays, Rodriguez, 31, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the 2014 season. He put up a very disappointing campaign in 2015, hitting .246/.281/.362 with just four home runs and 17 RBI in 139 games.
Still, the Pirates signed the “super-utility man” to a one-year, $2.5 million deal for the 2016 season. Rodriguez played so well that the Pirates would now like to re-sign such a versatile player, but are likely now priced-out considering the numbers put up by Rodriguez this season.
A right-handed batter, the 31-year-old Rodriguez came back in 2016 with a vengeance. He played every single position this year except for pitcher and catcher, while spending the most time at first base, centerfield and right field, which as noted are the three main places the A’s could use help.
He doesn’t bring quite the pop as some of the other free agent candidates that the A’s will no-doubt take a look at. Yet, Rodriguez hit 18 homers and drove in 56 runs in 2016, while batting .270 with an above average 3.48 on-base percentage. His righty bat would also platoon nicely with Yonder Alonso’s lefty-bat at first base.
MLB Trade Rumors projects Rodriguez to be worthy of a multi-year deal worth at around $5 million a year. That may be a bit expensive for Oakland’s taste, however they were prepared to offer Josh Reddick $10 million a year for three years so you never really know what the team might end up doing.
It would at least be a very good idea for the team to at least take a long look at Sean Rodriguez because if he performs in 2017 the way he did in 2016, he could help Oakland in so many ways.