The Oakland A’s have a couple of player options to deal with this winter, but more importantly, they have the opportunity to address their anemic offense this winter. The A’s are expected to have over $20 million to spend this winter after they dump Ben Sheets‘ $10 million contract and decline Eric Chavez’s $12 million option for 2011. While A’s owner Lew Wolff has said in the past that he does not expect the team to make any surprising moves this winter, it’s difficult to imagine a completely quiet winter this year for Oakland.
This has to be one of Billy Beane’s most crucial winters in his tenure with the A’s. Think about it. The A’s laid out the foundation for a new version of the “Big Three” with Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez. The original “Big Three” in Oakland consisted of pitchers Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. While the original may bring back memories of Oakland’s winning history in the early 2000’s, the new trio is poised to make some noise next year.
Beane’s job is to address the offense, not pitching. The A’s are in great shape in the pitching department, which is something very few teams can say heading into the offseason. The A’s offense, however, is cause for concern. The A’s do have a couple prospect that are on the rise (Chris Carter, Michael Taylor, etc.), but the A’s are going to need more than a couple of ‘prospects’ if they want to win the west next season.
While the $20-plus million figure the A’s have to spend this winter might not be able to land a guy like Carl Crawford, but the A’s have got to do something with that money. Wolff insists that beyond next year, the A’s will not have much financial flexibility, which is a reason why he thinks there will be very limited action this year in the free agent market.
Another source for obtaining offense would be through trade. The A’s have plenty of trade bait, most notably in Vin Mazzaro. The A’s have four set players for next year’s rotation (Braden, Anderson, Cahill, Gonzalez), but the fifth spot remains up in the air. The A’s could very well include Mazzaro in a package deal while trying to land a big bat for the offense.
The A’s have money this winter, and have some players to include in some trades, but it’s up to Beane and Co. to pull the trigger on these things. The A’s have to improve their offense this winter. Doing nothing is NOT an option.
The A’s are expected, or at least according to ESPN.com, to pick up the options for OF Coco Crisp, and 2B Mark Ellis. Crisp was injured for a majority of the season, while Ellis has had his share of injuries throughout his career. However, as ESPN notes, just because the A’s pick up the options for both players, that does not necessarily mean the team plans on keeping them around for 2011. Either player could be offered in a potential trade this winter. This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
The A’s long-time pitching coach, Curt Young declined to return next season with Oakland. The A’s offered him a raise and a one-year deal, but he decided to look for other opportunities within the league. According to ESPN.com, the Boston Red Sox are in talks with Young.