The Oakland Athletics may have finished the 2010 campaign with an 81-81 record, but the team is definitely getting better with each passing day. The A’s recently won the bidding rights to Japanese pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma, a move that has many people thinking what GM Billy Beane has planned for this winter. Iwakuma, 29, is a solid right-handed pitcher, and if signed, brings a lot to an A’s rotation that led the American League in ERA this year.
Aside from the Iwakuma bidding, the A’s appear to be a very aggressive team, and seem like they’re serious about contending next year. While nothing has really happened yet, I would not be shocked if the A’s surprised a few people out there this winter.
The A’s have depth in pitching, and that could very well be their biggest strength heading into this winter. While most teams are searching and scrambling for starting pitching at around this time of the year, the A’s sit in a position where pitching is the least of their problems. The A’s, however, are in dire need of some offense.
While the team could test the free agent market for some much needed offense, the A’s could probably fare a lot better by acquiring an impact hitter through trading. And after reading this, I started thinking…
One team that could be a likely trade partner is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers ranked 8th in the NL in ERA (4.01), and while that’s not terrible, the team could definitely benefit from acquiring solid pitching after finishing fourth in the NL West at 80-82.
In a perfect world, the A’s would simply send a package deal (of young arms) in exchange for, let’s say, OF Matt Kemp. Now, Kemp is a big part of the Dodgers team, but I think Oakland (if they wanted to) could pull him away from Los Angeles.
At 26, Kemp could make perfect sense in a swap between the A’s-Dodgers. The A’s would send pitching, and the Dodgers would send an impact hitter to an A’s offense that hit just 109 home runs (28th in baseball). The A’s need offense, and acquiring an impact player like Kemp via trade makes sense.
This season, Kemp saw hit average dip a bit from his ’09 season, but still had a pretty solid season for L.A. In 162 games, Kemp hit .242/.310/.450 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs. His career .285/.336/.472 is reason enough to believe that Kemp will probably rebound next year. Kemp’s 19 stolen bases were down from his ’09 total of 34, but he still remains a threat on the bases as well. Either way, Kemp would really make a huge difference in the A’s lineup if he were to play for the green-and-gold.
This type of deal would really send shock waves throughout baseball, and would be a clear indication that the A’s are serious about contending next year. If the A’s are going to compete next year, Billy Beane and Co., are going to need to continue being aggressive this winter.
Kemp is just one hitter the A’s should go after this winter. If I were the A’s, I’d go after a guy like Kemp via trade, and then pick up a player via free agency. Adding two established hitters this winter should be the A’s number one priority this winter.
*To illustrate where Kemp would fit in with Oakland, I compared his 2010 numbers to Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis, and Coco Crisp (3 of the A’s OFs in ’10).