2016-12-08T18:22:01-08:00The MLB Rule 5 Draft took place on Thursday. Here’s a quick primer on how it works. The short version: If you’ve had a prospect in the minors for several years then another team can give him a chance, but they have to keep him in the bigs all year. This is how the A’s got Mark Canha a couple years ago. The A’s did not make a pick in the 2016 edition, because they didn’t have an open space on their roster. However, they did lose one player, as the Chicago White Sox selected RHP Dylan Covey from Oakland. Let’s take a closer look at both sides of this draft. Dylan Covey Covey is a right-hander who has been a starter to this point. His fastball reached as high as 95 mph in the Arizona Fall League last month, and he has an overall five-pitch arsenal (via Kimberly Contreras, Oakland Clubhouse). If everything goes right then he profiles as an efficient pitch-to-groundball-contact innings eater. He’s gone through adversity in his career (often health-related but not arm-related), and Contreras also notes his toughness and resilience. However, what Covey is missing is a track record. He’s only thrown six games in the upper minors, all in Double-A at the beginning of 2016 before missing the rest of the year to an oblique strain. He came back for the Arizona Fall League, and despite tossing a couple high-profile gems (no-hitter, and AFL championship) his overall numbers were pedestrian (4.25 ERA, too many baserunners). And again, that was still just seven more games (including AFL postseason), so he’s now got a total of 13 appearances above High-A ball and he’ll be age 25 next season. As someone who closely follows the A’s minor leagues, you’d think I’d be bummed about losing a prospect. However, I’m not even batting an eye at this one right now — if anything, I’m relieved that they didn’t lose RHPs Tucker Healy or Sam Bragg, who are both better prospects and closer to the bigs. It’s not that Covey isn’t a worthwhile prospect, but rather a matter of practicality and timing. I simply can’t imagine a scenario in which he lasts on an MLB roster for all of 2017, especially in a homer-happy park like Guaranteed Rate Field (lol seriously that’s its name now ... the irony would be delicious if they offered dynamic ticket pricing that constantly changes and is thus rarely if ever a “guaranteed rate”). If the now-rebuilding White Sox find a way to get value out of Covey this year, or even commit to stashing him at the back of their pen just to add a fringe prospect to the system, then a tip of the cap to them. Nothing is impossible. But even then, I currently have him as the A’s No. 36 prospect on my personal list, below 16 other starters, so the damage is minimal. If you look at it in terms of depth chart rather than total prospect value, he’s probably around 18th in line to start games in Oakland this year (but really lower, because they would pick up a Surkamp or a Detwiler like last year if things actually got that far again in 2017). I think the most likely scenario is that Covey gets hammered by MLB hitting in his first trial and he’s back in Oakland’s system by June. The next-most likely is that he doesn’t even break camp with Chicago and ends up back here after spring training. None of that precludes him being better in the future! Just not yet. I was more bummed about losing the actually MLB-ready 2B/OF Colin Walsh last winter, but he didn’t even make it to the end of June with the rebuilding Brewers before being sent back. So, to be clear, I don’t think Covey is a worthless prospect. I just think that he’s so far from being MLB-ready right now that there is nearly a zero percent chance that he sticks in 2017, which means nothing will come of this. The biggest result could be that the A’s will have a bit more breathing room for the first couple months in their already-packed Double-A rotation, while Covey gets some free MLB experience from another club. Thanks, White Sox! (Note: I’m not kidding. The rotation overflow in Nashville/Midland is an actual con[...]
2016-12-08T17:45:22-08:00There are benchmarks, like the Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 draft, but no two off-seasons are exactly alike. One day you’re throwing up your Thanksgiving dinner on news that Josh Donaldson has been unexpectedly traded for two wings and a thigh, another day you’re minding your own business looking at Valentine’s Day cards for your sweetie when the A’s acquire 42 HRs without giving up a whole lot. So now it’s 2016, the Winter Meetings are ending, you’re restless, the outfield is still a mess, and you’re wondering where all this is headed. If you’re looking for an interesting, maybe even competitive, 2017 team, there are reasons to be sanguine and reasons to be concerned. The reasons to be concerned come mostly from reading between the lines — and occasionally just reading the lines — when Billy Beane, David Forst, or other front office representatives, speak. Beane recognizes that the team is not one player away from competing, Forst talks about the need for a CFer without overtly setting the bar higher than a one-year stopgap or the free agent scraps, Dave Kaval doesn’t commit to increasing payroll any time soon. It starts to sound like the front office is strongly committed to the young core coming up in 2018 and beyond, ideally aligning with the breaking ground on a new stadium, but perhaps just hoping to buy enough glue and tape to patch together a team of "some guys" in 2017. The reasons to be sanguine, though, start with the fact that little has actually happened — or perhaps more importantly, little has yet to "not happen". Gone from the free agent market are Jon Jay (mediocre), Carlos Gomez (RH and inconsistent), and Ian Desmond (way overpaid), none of whom represented anything close to the ideal acquisition for CF. Most of December, all of January and February still lie ahead. So what have the A’s done? Sure, they have signed Matt Joyce, tendered Yonder Alonso, forsaken the Rule 5 draft, but what might be most important is what they haven’t done. Some of the best deals are always the ones you don’t make. The first thing the A’s haven’t done is to meet teams halfway on Sonny Gray. Reportedly Atlanta showed some interest but the A’s did not accept what was likely a "buy low" offer. Insisting on full value for Gray, as if he were coming off of his 2015 season, and refusing to budge, is what A’s fans should want from the front office. Whether or not Gray will be traded between now and spring training is an unknown. What appears to have been established is that Oakland will keep Gray before they settle for just an ok offer. That should make A’s fans happy. The second thing the A’s haven’t done is the flip side of settling: they haven’t met Kansas City’s asking price for Jarrod Dyson. So despite the A’s confirmed interest in Dyson, it appears Oakland is committed to risk losing out on Dyson in order to avoid over-paying. So at the Winter Meetings, the A’s didn’t trade Gray for too little and they didn’t trade too much for Dyson. That’s a good week. Their report card for the off-season? Well, that has yet to be written. Still ahead are many discussions undoubtedly leading to several transactions, one of which could still involve dealing Gray or adding Dyson as the landscape changes and with it the accompanying offers. Certainly ahead is at least one move no one really saw coming (despite our collective attempt to theorize about every single man who has ever signed a professional baseball contract). I fully expect this move to be somewhere between utterly brilliant and gut-wrenchingly awful. I also expect us not all to agree on which one it is closer to being. An ‘A’ right now would look like a CFer and RFer we were excited about adding, at costs we agreed were appropriate to offer. An ‘F’ right now would look like Gray sold low and too much given up just to add Dyson for a year. The stage in the game we have reached, though, is neither scenario. We have heard only the overture, it was pleasant at times, not so much [...]
2016-12-07T20:36:08-08:00The Colorado Rockies made a big move on Wednesday, signing outfielder Ian Desmond to a five-year contract. Furthermore, Ken Rosenthal of Fox reports that they’re still in on slugger Mark Trumbo, who played most of the last two years in the corner outfield. The thing is, the Rockies already had three outfielders before the day started: Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and top prospect David Dahl, who debuted last summer. They still have Gerardo Parra, too, and now they have Desmond. As it is, someone would presumably have to play 1B. According to Rosenthal, the plan to sign Trumbo would involve trading an outfielder, with Trumbo then moving back to 1B. Hey, the A’s need an outfielder! And all these guys are lefty hitters, which they also need! Let’s speculate on whether the two teams might be able to match up. These scenarios are under the assumption that the Rockies sign Trumbo. Note that there has been absolutely no public connection between the A’s and Rockies and we’re just spitballing here. Carlos Gonzalez: In the previously linked tweet, Rosenthal mentions the 31-year-old CarGo as a trade candidate. He’s a $20 million one-year rental, and his bat isn’t what it used to be — his OPS+ over the last two years is 113, albeit with 65 total homers. He’s a corner outfielder now, but his defense there is still solid. What would you give up? Ehh. He’s still a good player, don’t get me wrong, but is he the right fit since he doesn’t help beyond 2017? I’d be into it if it was more of a rearranging of deck chairs; that is, the A’s also send some salary over. The Rockies could use a utility infielder and everyone can use an extra reliever, so start with Jed Lowrie and John Axford as the “salary balancing” portion of the deal (they’re combining for $12 million next year). I’d give up another minor piece to make it worth their while — how about a groundball pitching prospect like Paul Blackburn or Dylan Covey? I don’t know if the Rockies would do that, but I think they should consider it. It frees up a few bucks after two big signings, it fills a couple weak spots with decent veterans, and it at least picks up one prospect. Perhaps they’ll get better offers or bigger prospects, but if they don’t and they need to clear out a body then I think this is a productive way to do it. If the A’s could get it done for that package, then sure, why not? But I’m not desperate to go after this particular fish. Charlie Blackmon: We’re getting warmer. He’s got two years of team control, and he has experience in CF, though he’s below-average there. He’s coming off a better offensive season than CarGo, but it was by far a career year. Still, he has a 111 OPS+ over the last four seasons, and he does a bit of everything — contact, on-base ability, some power, and even basestealing. Rosenthal lists him as a trade candidate as well. What would you give up? I still wouldn’t go nuts for a guy I only have through 2018, but he’ll surely be more expensive than CarGo. My instinct is that Blackmon will probably require more than I think the A’s should give for a short-term player, especially one who doesn’t count CF defense among his strengths. I guess I would give roughly what I offered in my last post for Jarrod Dyson, which was a late-inning reliever (Ryan Madson) and a young pitcher I’m not attached to (Raul Alcantara). I’d even upgrade Alcantara to Jesse Hahn, though I think it would be funny to swap him out for Dillon Overton instead, just to see how many dingers we could create. You know, for science. But either way, can’t the Rockies find a better offer than that elsewhere? David Dahl: Now we’re in the land of hot takes, so get out your sunglasses! Let’s connect some dots. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! mentions that the Rockies would “like to get a front-of-rotation-type pitcher, too, thru trade.” The A’s have a front-of-rotation-type pitcher named Sonny Gray! And he’s potentially available, for the right price[...]
2016-12-07T18:30:55-08:00The rumors are flying at the MLB Winter Meetings, and the Oakland A’s finally found their way into one on Tuesday. They are “very interested” in trading for Royals CF Jarrod Dyson, and that interest has continued into Wednesday. Even if the A’s are unlikely to swing a deal before the end of these Winter Meetings, Dyson is clearly on the radar. That gives us time to consider the next obvious question: What would you give up to acquire Dyson? Let’s set the scene. The Royals are looking to trade Dyson for a few reasons: they’re unlikely to contend in 2017, they’re looking at least partially toward the future with their core approaching free agency, the current outfield market is great for sellers, and he’s a free agent after the year. They also just acquired Jorge Soler, so their outfield is getting crowded. The obvious move is for them to cash in on Dyson now before they lose him for nothing next winter, but they still retain some leverage because theoretically they could keep him and wait until July for a deadline deal (or they could trade Lorenzo Cain instead, though Dyson seems like more of a sell-high vs. a sell-low on Cain). The A’s are looking to acquire Dyson because they need defensive help in CF. It’s looking like 2017 might truly be a rebuilding year, so the timing isn’t right for a big-ticket acquisition that mortgages too much of the future in a bad market in a chase for a present-day dragon. But Oakland’s CF situation is so dire that they have to do something about it, and Dyson falls into that happy medium between making today watchable and doing so at an affordable cost. At the very least, the rookie pitchers would surely appreciate being able to allow a batted ball past the infield without suffering a panic attack. We bank a lot of our future hopes on those young hurlers, so a boost to their development would be constructive even in a losing season. As for his skill set, Dyson’s calling card is elite defense in CF. Seriously, he’s one of the best. He has top-flight speed and (unlike, say, Billy Burns) he uses it well. He’s a poor hitter, but he gets on base enough to keep his glove in the lineup — and once there, he’s also one of the best basestealers in the game, which arguably makes him an overall plus on offense. If it all goes right, he’s a 3 WAR player on the heavy side of a platoon. Contractually, he’s cheap (projected $2.5 million in arbitration), but as previously mentioned he’s a just one-year rental. So what does he cost? Time to speculate! The obvious starting point is “pitching,” but we’ll have to get more specific than that. I think AN member TrevorCap did a good job getting the ball rolling in the first comment of our last Dyson post: I think it's one of the following: 1. Pinder straight up2. Alcantara and Madson3. Logan Shore4. Daulton Jefferies Posted by TrevorCap on Dec 6, 2016 | 6:38 PM There are three concepts being touched on here. Straight-up swap for an MLB-readyish position player, but not a particularly high-ceiling one. The A’s have a couple guys who meet that description and who are potentially blocked in a crowded young infield, like Chad Pinder or Renato Nunez. (Note: I’m personally not into this idea, for reasons I’ll get into in a post later this week.) Swap for a pitching prospect, but not a top MLB-ready one like Jharel Cotton or even Daniel Mengden. Rather, an enticing low-minors arm like Shore or Jefferies. Might require a secondary prospect as sweetner? Something based around a reliever, possibly with an extra piece like one of the less-heralded MLB-ready hurlers (in this case, Raul Alcantara; another option could be Dillon Overton). Any one of these concepts seems like an accurate framework to me. Dyson is definitely valuable, and in ways the A’s specifically need, but we’re still talking about one year of a 32-year-old who’s never been a full-time player. There are limits to his trade value, even in this market. If I h[...]
Bill King is the newest Oakland Athletic to enter the Hall of Fame. Chosen as this year’s Ford C. Frick award winner, King enters The Hall for his excellence in broadcasting. Finally! Although an announcer for both the Raiders and the Warriors, today’s honor is strictly based on his 25 years of service for Major League Baseball and the Athletics.
King passed away unexpectedly in 2005 after a long career in the Bay Area, with many teams benefiting from his insightful commentating amidst broadcasting play by plays. When Bill broadcast, you could see every movement. He’d mention things that fans wouldn’t normally consider (an umpire’s glance, a manager’s deviation from a pattern, slight movements in the bullpen). Like many, I loved listening to games more than watching them on TV in part because I learned so much. And, I never left home without my radio when heading to the Coliseum. His love of the game, the Athletics and the Bay Area was palpable.
The Ford C. Frick Award is voted on annually and is named in memory of Ford Frick who was not only a broadcaster but the National League President (1934-1951) and 3rd Commissioner of Baseball from 1951-1965. To be considered, one must have served for at least 10 consecutive years as a Major League Baseball broadcaster with either a team and/or network. Bill King’s quarter of a century with the Athletics definitely meets that criteria as did 200 other potential winners. On Saturday, July 29th, the award will be bestowed on Bill King.
The Oakland A’s are “very interested” in Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post.
Oakland is looking for help in center field this winter, and Dyson is one of many trade candidates around the league. Sherman notes that the Royals are open to trading some of their veterans, and that now could be a good time to cash in on Dyson in particular due to the seller’s market on outfielders. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports also mentions that the Orioles and Rangers are interested, though, so the A’s have some competition in this discussion.
Dyson is a 32-year-old glove-first CF. His defensive metrics are elite, but the 94 OPS+ he posted last year was a career-high -- his overall marks are 85 OPS+ and 86 wRC+, in 1,539 plate appearances. At the plate he hits for a mediocre average and gets on base a bit, but doesn’t hit for any power (career: .260/.325/.353, 7 HR). Last year’s improvement came largely from an increased batting average, which in turn resulted primarily from a reduced strikeout rate.
One other dimension Dyson brings is speed. Over the last five seasons, he’s stolen 156 bases in 184 attempts — that’s 31 per year at an 84.8% success rate. Of players still on the A’s roster, the leader in steals last year was Marcus Semien with 10.
Even with Dyson’s shortcomings on offense, the overall package was worth 3.1 WAR last year (on both scales) in a part-time role. Over the last four seasons, he’s averaged around 2.5 WAR in 101 games per year. For a quick comp, he’s sort of like Craig Gentry, except that Dyson bats left-handed (so he more often has the platoon advantage).
On the downside, Dyson would be a one-year rental. He is in his final season of arbitration, projected at $2.5 million by MLB Trade Rumors. Of course, that would presumably make him less costly to acquire than some of the bigger names being bandied about, who have three or more years of team control left.
A’s beat writer Jane Lee mentioned Tuesday that, if bringing in a free agent, Oakland would be more likely to aim for a shorter deal. If the same logic holds true on the trade front, then that would mean looking for a more modest and short-term upgrade like Dyson rather than a big-name splash (like AN favorites Kevin Kiermaier or Ender Inciarte). Dyson could be the kind of player who makes 2017 more watchable, while serving as part of a veteran framework in case the prospects break out 2012-style and make a run at contention, all at a relatively reasonable price.
What kind of return package would you give up for one year of Jarrod Dyson? Susan Slusser suggests young pitching, but not at the level of Jharel Cotton or Daniel Mengden. Jane Lee suggests sending relievers. Let’s negotiate in the comments!
2016-12-06T10:45:02-08:00Groundballs galore! The player Brad Ziegler is unconventional by every account. He made his major league debut at age 28 after a circuitous route through the minor leagues in which he cracked his skull twice. He started his professional career as an over-handing starter, changing to a submarining reliever in 2007. From there, it’s been nothing but smooth sailing. Ziegler isn’t loved by advanced statistics, and that’s just fine. He’s unique in every way, succeeding in spite of a lack of velocity and strikeouts. Typically, pitchers struggle preventing runs when hitters put the ball in play; it’s hard to sustain success when luck is such a huge part of the game. Ziegler’s K/9 has never eclipsed 8, but he’s still put up an ERA sub 3.00 in six of his nine seasons. Part of that is his uncanny ability to get groundballs (a career 66.3% rate) and thereby double plays (114 in his career), and he's undisputedly been a great pitcher for nearly a decade. Ziegler is beyond the point of wondering if he’ll regress. He’s a flyball averse, soft contact machine and so long as the stuff holds up, the ERA will too. Will the stuff hold up? That’s not a given and there are bad indicators. His fastball velocity is down, though he did have two of the best years of his career with his slowest stuff. He’s entering his age 37 season and while his style is clearly less susceptible to the ails of father time, the end will come at some point. In spite of those facts, Ziegler’s results have shown no sign of showing down. Results matter, especially when you consider... The money Ziegler’s deal will be significantly lower than that of the top tier relievers. Mark Melancon got 4 years, $62 million, which will probably pale in comparison to the eventual contracts of Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Whoever Zielger lands with will get a relative steal: in spite of the fact that he’s put up similar numbers to the top notch guys for years on end, FanGraphs projects he’ll make somewhere in the range of $30 million over three seasons. Yes, those numbers evoke thoughts of Billy Butler, but they also evoke thoughts of double plays, something Zielger gets in spades. Make no mistake, $30 million is a lot of cash. Even in today’s outrageous free agent market, one in which a LOOGY who couldn’t get lefties out last year got $11 million, $30 isn't spare change. At $10 million per year, Ziegler would take up somewhere around 10% of the A’s total payroll. That’s a lot for any player, let alone a reliever. But there’s a lot of nuance in money, specifically with the A’s. For one, spending 10% on one player and being successful isn’t unheard of, nor is spending 10% on a bad player and winning the World Series. There are different financials among the teams who have done so, but it’s far from a death knell. More importantly, the A’s have to spend the money somewhere. They’ve long said that payroll doesn’t roll over from one season to the next. If the 2017 opening day payroll were to be $1, the other $79,999,999 or so wouldn't be available in 2018. It's a use it or lose it world. The merits of that are up for debate, it’s something I’ve never quite understood and I once got a B in High School econ. The merits don’t really matter though: it’s reality and it means the A’s should get spending. They're running out of places to spend those dollars, and a solid reliever might be the place to do it. Free agents are risky, and that risk is more pronounced towards the end of the contract. For a team that’s not an obvious contender, signing a reliever to a multi-year deal doesn’t make obvious sense. The bulk of his value will likely come when the A’s are non-contenders at the beginning of the deal. There is of course a contingency plan that accompanies signing a reliever in a market where pitchers are overvalued across the league. Suck in 2017?[...]
2016-12-06T05:39:21-08:00Rumor season is in full swing around MLB, especially now with the Winter Meetings underway. However, there has been little mention of the A’s in any of the rumors so far, and even the moves they did already make came with no prior warning. The only times I can recall the A’s being mentioned are the following: a brief tie to free agent outfielder Eric Thames, before he signed elsewhere; the general word that the team will listen on Sonny, Vogt, and Doolittle; and the report that the Braves inquired about Sonny but weren’t interested in the price. That’s it, other than folks speculating about what players the A’s might be after or what teams they might match up with in a trade. In the absence of actual A’s rumors, here are a few reports from around the league that might at least interest some folks on Athletics Nation. A’s didn’t ask for Swanson in Sonny discussion We already knew the Braves asked about Sonny Gray earlier in the offseason, and that it went nowhere. Atlanta has continued chasing ace starters, specifically Chris Sale and Chris Archer — whenever there’s an update on those guys, Sonny’s name comes up again, if only as part of the due diligence background info. But there hasn’t been any actual new rumor regarding Sonny. There still isn’t! But there is new info on the old rumor. Which wasn’t really a rumor in the first place, if we’re being honest, but rather a non-rumor, which isn’t nothing but is still like a lesser version of an actual rumor. It’s news that nothing is happening. Anyway, back when nothing happened, the A’s asked for some kind of return package that the Braves didn’t want to give up. We don’t know who was included in that rejected proposal, but trying to guess sure is fun! The one thing we now know is that the A’s didn’t ask for prized shortstop Dansby Swanson, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick who debuted last summer (via Joel Sherman of the NY Post). I guess that’s not really a surprise. If the A’s were to trade with the Braves, you’d imagine they’d want one of Atlanta’s young CF and/or pitching prospects. Oakland already has a solid shortstop, with several infield prospects already arriving in 2017. I wouldn’t really have expected them to base a Sonny trade around Swanson, a highly touted player who fills exactly zero of their current organizational holes (he even bats righty). But now we definitely know it didn’t happen! In semi-related news, Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors, in response to a rumor about the Rangers getting nowhere in an inquiry on Atlanta’s Gold Glove CF Ender Inciarte, said the following: “[I]t is clear Atlanta regards the defensive standout as a building block in center field.” Finally, Ken Rosenthal of Fox suggested on Sunday that the A’s might consider toning down their wheeling and dealing under their new leadership, and that “[t]rading Gray would be more of the same.” Add it all up, and the chances of Sonny going anywhere seem lower than they might have in past winters. As non-rumors go, I guess it could be worse than keeping one of our favorite players, who also might still be super awesome. The CF search Most of these rumors don’t involve the A’s. But they have to do with outfielders we’ve talked about on AN. The Nationals asked about Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays, but they “consider the asking price exorbitant.” (Bob Nightengale, USA Today) The Reds won’t part with Billy Hamilton easily, and they “expect premium offers” if they’re to listen. They don’t think he’s hit his ceiling. (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com) A’s beat writer Jane Lee muses on the possibility of the A’s and Royals connecting again, this time for an outfielder like Jarrod Dyson or Lorenzo Cain. This one isn’t an actual rumor, but rather interesting speculation from an insider. Cain is available, though. (Buster Ol[...]