Well, here we are in mid July and your Oakland A’s have clawed and scratched their way back into playoff contention. As we wait to see how they handle perhaps their greatest challenge of the season, a six game home stand against the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees. General manager Billy Beane and his brass are busy at work at the executive offices in Oakland, evaluating what if any needs this team has, and which players on the trade market can be obtainable without mortgaging the future of his young team. As the longest tenured GM in the American League, Beane may be the first to tell you that the trades you don’t make may be as important as the trades you do. Let’s look at some rumored deals during his career that never came to fruition.
March 2000: Jim Edmonds to the A’s for Jesus Colome and Ron Mahay
Three seasons prior, Jim Edmonds nearly came to Oakland as the centerpiece of a blockbuster Mark McGwire deal between the A’s and Angels. As the A’s tried to accommodate McGwire by returning him to his Southern California roots, the additional players involved in the deal and the remaining salary left on McGwire’s contract could not be agreed upon by the two teams. As a result Big Mac soon found himself headed to St. Louis for the immortal T.J. Mathews, Blake Stein, and Eric Ludwick. As McGwire would go on to make history, Edmonds would continue to establish himself as a solid player in Anaheim and the A’s would revisit a deal in the spring of 2000. With Beane dangling a top pitching prospect in the flame thrower Colome as well as the lefty Mahay, who had opened some eyes with a strong September the year prior. The A’s thought they had enough to deal for the previously injured Edmonds, who had struggled to a .250/.339/.426 split in just 55 games played in 1999. Whether it was concerns over his surgically repaired shoulder, or a hesitance by the two teams to deal within the division. Edmonds, would never suit up in Oakland and would go on to join McGwire in St. Louis where he would be an integral member of the Cardinals over the next eight seasons.
December 2001: Gary Sheffield, Luke Prokopec, and Mike Trombley to the A’s for Billy Koch and Jermaine Dye
When Gary Sheffield wasn’t allegedly pumping himself full of steroids, inciting bench clearing brawls, fighting with police, and generally being a disturbing human being. He could be found terrorizing pitchers in both leagues for the better part of his outstanding career. With his lighting quick wrists, and explosive power, Sheffield was already a six-time All-Star when Billy Beane began contemplating ways to acquire him during the winter of 2001. As anyone who watched Moneyball can tell you, this was the winter where the A’s sought a way to reinvent their offense upon the departures of Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon. But before they would become creative, they thought big and inquired about the disgruntled Dodgers star and set forth the parameters of a deal. The proposed deal would involve the A’s trading recently acquired closer Billy Koch and the man who propelled them to the playoffs in 2001 after being acquired at the trading deadline, Jermaine Dye. In addition to Sheffield, the Dodgers agreed to package aging late inning reliever, Mike Trombley and highly regarded pitching prospect, Luke Prokopec. With Sheffield demanding a raise, one can conjecture that with the exchange of Dye and Koch, Beane was trying to clear some payroll to acquire the slugging outfielder. Sadly, a deal could not be completed and Sheffield would stay in the National League being shipped to Atlanta in a deal involving Brian Jordan. With a hole in left field, the A’s would bring David Justice into the fold and the 2002 season would be one to remember. This was the case of a potential blockbuster becoming a bust.