Oakland Athletics Need These Five Free Agents in 2016

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Aug 9, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (19) is met by third baseman Manny Machado (13) in the dugout after a solo home run in the sixth inning off of Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Cory Rasmus (not pictured) at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Athletics’ Best Option:
Chris Davis, 1B
Age: 29

Chris Davis probably blew his biggest chance at being MLB’s favorite player when he was busted for PED use at the end of the 2014 season. But Davis has done everything in his power to win Baltimore Orioles fans back this year, crushing 31 home runs and batting .253/.338/.534.

Davis had a monster 2013 season, slugging 53 homers and batting in 138 RBIs. The A’s would love that kind of power on their team, and they could certainly use an upgrade at first base, but there are some major questions. How much did PEDs affect him, if at all? Why did his numbers decline so much in 2014, when he batted just .196 on the season?

The answer to the second question is probably simple – Davis was one of the most feared power hitters in the game, and his OBP was more than 100 points higher than his average. No one wanted to pitch to Davis, but he still wanted to hit home runs. That said, the O’s might extend a qualifying offer to the soon-to-be-free-agent slugger, and would he really be worth losing a draft pick AND picking up a major contract?

There’s a much cheaper option in….

The Lite Version:
Justin Morneau, 1B
Age: 35

Justin Morneau, who hasn’t played a game for the Rockies since mid-May. This may sound crazy, but if Morneau can stay healthy, he’s got plenty of power in his bat.

In 2014, Morneau batted .319/.364/.496 in 135 games, leading the National League in batting average, with the seventh-highest OPS in the game. He has a $9 million option for next season, but with a $750,000 buyout available, it’s likely that the ailing slugger will find himself on the market for much less.

The former Twin is no longer the player he was in his 2006 MVP season, but last year proved that he’s far from finished with the sport. In addition to being arguably the best hitter in the NL, he’s consistently ranked in the top-five in fielding percentage among first baseman.

Morneau’s downside, and the only factor that will keep him affordable if he does become a free agent, is his lengthy concussion history. He’s missed most of the 2015 season due to a concussion and cervical strain that he sustained on a diving play, and because he’s had a recurring problem with long-lasting concussion symptoms, the Rockies played it safe and kept him on the disabled list in a season that didn’t mean much for them anyway.  Fear of this injury issue could lower his value, placing him squarely in the category of players the A’s typically target.

In addition to first base, the A’s could use a strong utility player:

Next: Utility Man: Howie Kendrick, or...

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