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An SB Nation blog for Oakland Athletics fans

Updated: 2017-12-13T12:30:02-08:00


Stephen Piscotty: The Risk The A’s Should Take


I agree with Tim Eckert-Fong on nearly everything Oakland A’s-related. However, he recently posited that the A’s should seek a new outfielder elsewhere than St. Louis’ Stephen Piscotty. I don’t love Piscotty as a trade target, but I believe he makes much sense for the Oakland A’s both now and in the future. One thought of Tim’s with which I disagree is the idea that, despite his team-friendly contract, acquiring Piscotty isn’t a risk worth taking: “At six years, $33.5 million, Piscotty’s contract is relatively cheap in the world of baseball. Even the A’s can handle that limited dollar amount, particularly with their currently low payroll. It’s not a backbreaker even if he’s bad and if he bounces back? You’ve got an asset for an extended period of time. It means more risk though, even if only slightly and for a reasonable amount of time. It’s a notch, again only slightly, against Piscotty. The notches add up, and Piscotty isn’t the risk worth taking.” First, Piscotty’s contract really is team friendly. In 2018 he’ll make just $1.3 million and won’t exceed $8 million in 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2022 before hitting a $15 million team option with a $1 million buyout in 2023. The contract covers Piscotty through his age-31 season. Those annual salary figures are the amounts that decent relief pitchers earn in today’s market. Piscotty would fit into Oakland’s lineup as a regular position player. Piscotty has already outearned his entire contract in roughly two season’s worth of PAs. Which brings me to my point. How well would Piscotty have to perform to be worth his contract over the next 5 seasons? It appears as though he’d need to be worth a little more than 1 fWAR each season or total about 4 fWAR over the course of his contract. What does that type of production look like? Let’s say Piscotty doubles that level of production and performs as a league-average player and tallies about 2 fWAR each of the next 5 seasons? There is a lot of surplus value to be gained from acquiring a player like Piscotty who has the tools to string together multiple seasons of at least league average production. He produced 4 fWAR in less than 900 PAs from 2015 to 2016, good for 41st among MLB outfielders. Can Piscotty return to his 2015-2016 production level? The answer to that question provides the greatest evidence either for or against Piscotty, but it is also the hardest to predict. My answer, though, is yes. You can see in the chart above that through 2016 Piscotty’s actual production nearly matched his expected outcome. In 2017 his production fell short of the expected outcome. Piscotty’s 2017 xwOBA of .337, had that been his actual number, would net a wRC+ of right around 108, which is where Mookie Betts (wOBA: .339, wRC+: 108) and Brett Gardner (wOBA: .336, wRC+: 108) were in 2017. Those aren’t record breaking numbers, but when paired with quality defense, can total 3-4 fWAR. Earlier in the offseason I piggybacked on Eno Sarris’ idea that the A’s should be looking specifically for risk because that is where teams will find the most reward. My focus then was on free agents, but a Piscotty trade embodies that sentiment just as well. [...]

Elephant Rumblings: Winter Meeting Deals Continue; When Will A’s Get Involved?



Pineda and Smyly are both now off the board.

A’s Coverage:

MLB News:

Baseball Interest Stories:

Today in Baseball History:

  • 1956 - The Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to the cross-town rivals, the Giants, for pitcher Dick Littlefield and $35,000. Jackie, according to some accounts had already decided privately to leave the game to work for Chock Full of Nuts, publicly retires from baseball rather than accept the trade.
  • 2010 - The A's sign oft-injured starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a one-year contract.

Why the Oakland A’s shouldn’t trade for Clint Frazier


The 23 year-old Yankees outfielder seems to make a lot of sense to fill the A’s outfield hole. I’m here to tell you he doesn’t. The New York Yankees’ recent acquisition of slugger Giancarlo Stanton has led many to believe that young outfielder Clint Frazier could be a trade chip to help bolster the club elsewhere. The Oakland A’s have been in the hunt for a right-handed hitter, and according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, could have interest in the 23 year-old Frazier. However, there are many reasons to believe that Frazier would not be a great fit for Oakland. High acquisition cost Frazier won’t come cheap. Formerly a consensus top 50 prospect, his 39 MLB games of slightly below average production isn’t going to lower his value much. The Yankees even refused to include him in last summer’s Sonny Gray trade. A single year of Jed Lowrie for all six years of control for Frazier simply isn’t going to happen. Another popular idea - taking Jacoby Ellsbury’s three year, $68 million contract as a salary dump to lower Frazier’s price tag - simply isn’t going to happen either. Sure, the A’s have the budget room, but such a move would be unprecedented for them. I can’t remember the team ever taking on even a $10 million contract to buy a prospect, let alone almost $70 million. Plus, Ellsbury has a no-trade clause and is “unlikely” to waive it, per Mark Feinsand of Maybe the A’s could offer to let Ellsbury play full time, but playing an old, left-handed hitting outfielder every day defeats the purpose of adding a young right-handed hitter. In addition, Shohei Ohtani just reminded us that Oakland still is not a desirable destination, regardless of what promises can be made. Ellsbury would not be headed to Oakland in a Clint Frazier deal. The Yankees are targeting young pitching, and the A’s have plenty of that - just none of it is proven at all. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea would certainly interest New York, but trading either player leaves the rotation in ruin. The A’s front office has little interest in the free agent starters available to them, meaning a trade of Graveman or Manaea would likely leave either Andrew Triggs or Daniel Mengden as the team’s number two starter. Dealing a young arm for Frazier would just be robbing Peter to pay Paul. A prospect-for-prospect deal is also enticing, as after trading Starlin Castro to Miami, the Yankees have a hole at second base that Franklin Barreto could fill. However, such deals are extremely rare, and the A’s have not shown any indication that they are willing to trade Barreto this winter. How good is Frazier, anyway? At such a high acquisition cost, Clint Frazier has to be good. And by all accounts, he is - he universally ranked highly on all top prospect lists prior to his graduation to MLB. But is this warranted? Frazier’s calling card is his incredible bat speed which is, admittedly, very impressive. His next best tool, by most accounts, is his raw power. However, he has yet to show an ability to consistently tap into this power in games. His season high for home runs in the minors is only 16, and in his debut last season, he posted a .216 ISO, only 94th best in MLB (minimum 140 PA). Yes, an incredibly small sample, and a .216 ISO is still above average, but in today’s game of the juiced ball, it is not too impressive. If Frazier is going to strike out 30% of the time like he did in his small MLB sample, he needs to hit for more power. Frazier is no longer a center fielder, and the defensive metrics did not like his work in the corners last season. While scouting reports give him above average speed and fielding with a plus arm, he is likely nothing more than a right fielder long term. This is fine, and the A’s definitely need corner help, but they can no longer value him as a guy capable of playing center. Of course, Frazier is very young, has prospect pedigree, and could certainly grow into a fantastic player. But he isn’t a surefire t[...]

The case against the A’s acquiring Stephen Piscotty


Why the A’s should look elsewhere for their outfield needs. The winter meetings are upon us and the offseason is finally ready to get exciting for the have-nots. Down in Orlando, the A’s brass is assuredly logged into Athletics Nation, perusing trade ideas left and right. The front office is targeting pitchers and outfielders, looking for low priced upgrades to put the team over the hump in 2018 and beyond. The name currently being floated as an outfield option is that of Bay Area native Stephen Piscotty. In his short big league career, Piscotty has shown the ability to play a strong defensive right field while crushing left handed pitching with an impressive ability to up his game. He’s coming off a down year but is clearly a talented player with the ability to excel at the big league level as an everyday outfielder. Here’s the case against acquiring Stephen Pisoctty. Piscotty’s bad 2017 isn’t a guaranteed fluke Having a bad year doesn’t preclude being an Oakland A. The A’s love buy low projects and Piscotty certainly fits that mold. It’s not hard to see the intrigue. Piscotty’s got the draft pedigree, he’s shown promise in the bigs including a full above average season, and his tools are still there. If you want to point to a reason why his 2017 was so underwhelming, you might not be wrong to point to luck. His BABIP dipped in spite of his plate discipline improving and it’s not hard to imagine that coming back up. It might not be a fluke. His exit velocity dropped a substantial amount in 2017, meaning a bounce back isn’t guaranteed. Even if that exit velocity does come back up his ceiling looks like a slightly above average player. Something the A’s need, yes, but ultimately a low reward. It all depends on the risk. What is that risk? That part isn’t immediately clear. Rumors floated on the interwebs have made Piscotty seem downright attainable. Jesse Hahn, yes that Jesse Hahn has been floated as a potential piece in a Piscotty deal. If it’s Hahn, well yes. That’d be sweet. It’s unlikely to just be Hahn though, and realistic scenarios for a Piscotty trade involve a future piece like a Munoz or a Montas or heaven forbid a Schrock. The A’s have dreams of a 2018 run, but their gameplan should still be to stockpile for the future. Yes, Piscotty is under contract for five more seasons and is a potential long term asset, but if he requires a piece that fits into the realistic window of 2019 or so on, it’s a move the A’s shouldn’t make. At six years, $33.5 million, Piscotty’s contract is relatively cheap in the world of baseball. Even the A’s can handle that limited dollar amount, particularly with their currently low payroll. It’s not a backbreaker even if he’s bad and if he bounces back? You’ve got an asset for an extended period of time. It means more risk though, even if only slightly and for a reasonable amount of time. It’s a notch, again only slightly, against Piscotty. The notches add up, and Piscotty isn’t the risk worth taking. The cheaper options The risk for Piscotty is in part his acquisition cost. Rumors now pit the return as being weak, but my spidey senses tell me he’ll go for more than current rumors predict — just last summer St. Louis wanted him to be one of two pieces in a Sonny Gray trade. Even if the return is relatively small, it’s still a return on top of the financial obligation. What if the A’s could find a league average outfielder on the free agent marketplace? Just a year ago, the A’s signed Matt Joyce to a small two year deal, for which he rewarded them with a Piscotty like season. To be clear, Joyce and Piscotty are very different players but Piscotty’s 2018 will likely look a lot like Joyce’s 2017. Solid, something we could definitely use, but ultimately something for which the A’s shouldn’t get into bidding war. On the free agent marketplace this offseason are two longtime AN talking points. Carlos Gomez and Austin Jackso[...]

Elephant Rumblings: Khris Davis Is Not Going Anywhere; Jed Lowrie Might Be


A’s Coverage: Why the A’s pledge to keep building around young players – even as stadium hits snag... A’s might move Jed Lowrie this winter after picking up infielder’s option... Gauging Lowrie’s market around the league... Could Clint Frazier now be an A’s target in wake of Stanton deal? 4 realistic outfield options, including Stephen Souza and Adam Duvall... Joey Wendle traded to Rays for PTBNL Oakland Athletics 2018 top-50 prospects: Skylar Szynski, RHP... Stadium talk: Peralta board of trustees meeting is tonight in Oakland Details about the Laney site, and why the board should reopen talks MLB News: Yankees unload Chase Headley, who is owed $13M in 2018... Scott Boras' pitch for Jake Arrieta going straight to MLB owners... MLB umpire Dale Scott retires rather than risk more concussions... Baseball Interest Stories: New Yankee Stanton sympathizes with Marlins' fans rooting for 'unprofessional circus'... Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches in the World Series... New poll affirms Americans don't want steroid users in Hall of Fame... Jacoby Ellsbury and the NBA-Style Trade... Bisbee: Baseball still has no idea how to use relievers in playoffs... Who killed the DH? Today in Baseball History: 2013 - In the annual Rule V Draft, the Rangers make the biggest splash by selecting Russell Wilson from the Rockies in the minor league phase. Not that he is likely to help on the diamond, as he is currently busy playing quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League and last played minor league baseball in 2011. Best of Twitter: Khrush seems set to stay in Oakland... Highly unlikely #Athletics will move Khris Davis. Opened up DH spot for him by trading Healy. Team’s payroll low enough to carry Davis’ $10M-$11M arb number, and return for DH type would be limited.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2017 [...]