Some have joked that with all of the trades Billy Beane has made this offseason, that the players will need to wear name tags to FanFest. In all seriousness, I hope they do just that. There is a bevy of new talent in Oakland that has many fans excited for the start of spring training, but just who are these guys? Here is a quick rundown of all of the fresh faces (so far, because, you know, Billy Beane…) and how they fit in with the Oakland Athletics moving forward.
First the easy ones. The A’s signed (1) Billy Butler to a three year deal via free agency, and acquired (2) Ike Davis for a little international cash. I’m assuming Euros because of the exchange rate. The A’s also acquired (3) Eury De La Rosa from Arizona for cash considerations.
All this talk of money, let’s make it rain! Beane did just that by trading Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for four prospects. In return the A’s received third baseman (4) Brett Lawrie, lefty (5) Sean Nolin, righty (6) Kendall Graveman, and 18-year old minor league shortstop (7) Franklin Barreto.
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Due to his hatred for All-Stars, Beane then traded Brandon Moss for (8) Joe Wendle, a minor league second baseman. Wendle may develop nicely in the coming year and could present the Oakland Athletics with another option at second base, but he could also take some time, due to a hamate fracture last season that saw him on the DL for 53 days.
The next to go was Jeff Samardzija, who’s return filled the void at shortstop with (9) Marcus Semien. The A’s also acquired catcher (10) Josh Phegley and pitcher (11) Chris Bassitt (who we had on a podcast). All three of these players will likely be in Oakland on opening day, barring injury. The A’s also received (12) Rangel Ravelo, who has played first and third, and has been as high as Double-A, batting a cumulative .301 in five minor league seasons. Not a bad collection of talent for one year of Samardzija.
A minor move came on the final day of the winter meetings, with the A’s acquiring Mark Canha (13) in the Rule 5 Draft. He was traded to Oakland from Colorado, but only after Colorado drafted him from Miami. The only reason that’s important to know is if Canha doesn’t stick in Oakland all season. If that’s the case, he will be offered back to Miami, not Colorado.
Just when we all thought it was safe to look at Twitter again, Derek Norris was on the move to San Diego in return for starter (14) Jesse Hahn (who has a sick curveball) and reliever (15) R.J. Alvarez.
Phew! If you could name all of those players from memory, I’m impressed. For the rest of us, flash cards can be purchased at many fine office supply retailers.
Quickly, here is how every player fits in for Oakland in 2015: Lawrie will be the starting third baseman, no doubt. Butler and Davis will be sharing DH/first base duties, with John Jaso potentially in that mix as well. Nolin, Graveman, Bassitt, Hahn, Alvarez and De La Rosa will all be competing for spots on the pitching staff. Alvarez and De La Rosa are relievers, but only one will likely make the team out of spring training, due to the Oakland Athletics’ depth in the ‘pen.
Nolin, Hahn, Graveman and Bassitt will likely be up for spots in the rotation, with Hahn likely atop the list entering camp due to his experience in the Padres’ rotation. Bassitt has said that he would like to be in the ‘pen too, but there may not be room–yet. Graveman is the player I’m most excited about, and I’m speculating that he may fit better in the bullpen, even though he was a starter in the minors. He added a cut fastball while in the minors last season, and rocketed past every level of the Jays’ system to reach the majors by season’s end. His ERA over all levels last season was 1.83. He also walked only 31 in 167 1/3 innings, which is three less runs than he allowed.
Wendle and Ravello have an outside chance at reaching the majors in 2015, with Wendle holding the edge there with there being less depth at second. If he can get hot, and Eric Sogard struggles, Oakland may give him a shot to see what he can do. Barreto is still a couple of years away, at least.
Finally, as we’ve said many times, Mark Canha will get every chance to be the starting left fielder for the Oakland Athletics.