The Oakland Athletics have been unusually quiet this season as the trade deadline approaches. However, it is expected that the A’s will make some sort of deal before July 31. There have been numerous rumors as to who Oakland is likely to trade away, but there has not been much gossip about who they might acquire. Susan Slusser from the San Francisco Chronicle did note that GM Billy Beane is looking for Triple-A players, which makes many believe that Beane wants prospects who are close to being called up to the majors or who can contribute right away.
So, perhaps it is not out of the question that Beane wants his team to still be in postseason contention for 2015. But, it is more likely that he is looking forward to the 2016 season. If Beane wants to improve his team and acquire players who can contribute now and next season, he should strike a deal with the Philadelphia Phillies in order to snag Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon.
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These two players are obviously not top Triple-A prospects, but they would be able to contribute immediately. First off, if Scott Kazmir is traded, the A’s do not have that many starter options to fill his spot in the rotation. Out of the 40-man roster, Jesse Hahn, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, and Sean Nolin are all on the disabled list. The only starters left are Drew Pomeranz, who should stay in the bullpen, Barry Zito, who has had an ok season in Triple-A, and recent acquisition Cody Martin, who has not shined in the minors.
Thus, Hamels could immediately contribute and fill a much needed hole in the rotation if Kazmir is gone by the trade deadline. Despite his losing record this season, Hamels has been a consistent starter for the Phillies for 10 seasons now and he is still under club control until 2019. His contract may be a little pricy for the penny pinching A’s, but they would have him on the roster for three more season. Additionally, it would be nice to have a veteran pitching presence among all the young starters in the A’s rotation if Kazmir does not return to Oakland next season.
Then there is Papelbon. The Phillies are very motivated to move this closer however his annual salary is deterring most teams. He is currently being paid $13M a year through 2015 with a vesting option for 2016. Thus, the Athletics would also need to make sure that they could sign Papelbon through 2016 in order to get the most value out of this trade. Papelbon would help immensely this season since the likelihood of closer Sean Doolittle returning by September is low. Additionally, if Doolittle’s injuries continue to persist through next year, Papelbon would definitely come in handy if they were able to sign him through next season.
Even though it has not been rumored that the Athletics are in the race for either Hamels or Papelbon, it would be ideal for either of these players to come to Oakland. Either acquisition would make the Oakland Athletics a contender in 2016. Because of the high price tag of each player, it would be more likely that the A’s would only go after one of these pitchers. Oakland just needs to figure out what they can offer the Phillies in order to get this deal done.