August 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics managerBob Melvin
(6) signals for a pitching change against the New York Mets during the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Athletics defeated the Mets 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The last year or so has been a busy one for Billy Beane and company. Beane has acquired a lot of new talent, most notably Luke Gregerson, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester and Adam Dunn. To bring each of these players to the Athletics, Beane gave up quality players or prospects. Aside from Samardzija most of these players will likely be elsewhere next season, whether via free agency or on their couch enjoying retirement in Dunn’s case.
With the farm system unlikely to produce major-league-ready talent in for the next couple of seasons, 2014 may be the Athletics last chance to win a World Series title for some time.
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Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin will be returning from Tommy-John surgery in 2015, and will likely join Samardzija, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir in the Athletics rotation at some point next season. That’s the good news. The big question mark will be how well they perform upon their returns. In 2013, Parker held an ERA of 3.97 while Griffin held a slightly better 3.83.
There will be depth options at starting pitcher in Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez, and minus Gregerson, the bullpen will be largely the same. Jed Lowrie is also a free agent at the end of the year, and he will be a tough call to make. His defense is lacking, and his offensive output isn’t making up for it this season. Yet, when healthy he can be an integral part of the A’s offense.
So what do the Athletics do?
There is a chance that Beane will try and sign some big-time free agents, but the more likely scenario is that he will trade away some talent and replenish the farm system for the future.
If this is the case, Samardzija will likely be the first on the trading block. He has the most value of any of the pieces that Beane would be willing to move. He could even be paired with Josh Reddick whom I believe also has some trade value in that right arm for a bigger return.
The question I pose to you is this: what should the Athletics do? Do they re-tool and come back stronger in the future on the backs of their farm system, or do they make more trades, leaving them next to nothing in the minors and go for broke in 2015?