Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics face an extremely difficult decision this offseason: rebuild or try for one last run at the postseason?
The A’s have a chance to make the playoffs next year, though it will be difficult to overtake both the Los Angeles Angels of Not Los Angeles and the Texas Rangers. However, if things go right, the A’s could nab the second Wild Card spot. Again.
However, in a small market with a penny-pinching owner, Beane has been quick to start the rebuild process when it doesn’t look like the A’s can sustain success for 2-3 more years, or win the World Series now. For example, after the A’s made it to the ALCS in 2006 and probably could have competed for a playoff spot in 2007, Beane began to dismantle the team.
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So, will Billy go for it all (again) in 2015 or start the rebuild now? The answer lies with Jeff Samardzija.
Samardzija’s acquisition decimated the Athletics’ already weak farm system, as Oakland lost its two best prospects in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney. The Shark has one year remaining on his contract and will be in line for a big payday, something the A’s almost assuredly will not give him. Following Beane’s precedent, Shark would be the first to be traded if Beane decides to rebuild.
Samardzija would bring back a nice return. The A’s wouldn’t get anything remotely close to Russell and McKinney, but it would be a good first step toward building for sustained success in the future.
Price was a name linked to the A’s in rumors at that time, but it appears Beane didn’t go after him because the remainder of his contract (1 year, $20MM) would both decrease his trade value and make it more difficult to move him. If Billy targeted Samardzija specifically because he would be easier to trade and bring a bigger return, doesn’t it seem all the more likely the the Shark will indeed be moved?
The A’s could always decide to go for it now and, if they struggled through the first half of the season, they could trade Samardzija in July. However, that would significantly decrease his trade value. Beane knows that, obviously, as he originally intended to move Yoenis Cespedes (also a FA after 2015) this winter rather than mid-season to maximize his trade value.
I for one think Samardzija will be traded. Or maybe I’m just preparing myself for that in case it does happen, so when it does it won’t hurt so bad. Regardless, wherever he is I hope he gets a chance to pitch in the postseason. Especially if it’s for the A’s.
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