A’s Farm System: Positional Needs at the Trade Deadline

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OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 01: Assistant general manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics speaks during a press conference before the game against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum on August 1, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 01: Assistant general manager David Forst of the Oakland Athletics speaks during a press conference before the game against the Kansas City Royals at O.co Coliseum on August 1, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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Out of contention, the Oakland Athletics find themselves looking to restock the farm at the trade deadline.

Billy Beane‘s statements during Sunday’s press conference may be the best news for A’s fans in years. After sweeping the Indians, the Vice President of Baseball Operations confirmed a rebuild and talk of a new stadium as “not lip service.”

A's new reliever Blake Treinen
DENVER, CO – APRIL 26: Blake Treinen /

His comments reassured fans of a plan being in place for the future. Though ownership has not yet decided on a location, Beane is intent on having a good product on the field when the ballpark opens. Such is his reasoning for the DoolittleMadson trade.

Reported Sunday afternoon, the A’s have sent the pair of relievers to Washington in exchange for bullpen arm Blake Treinen as well as Minor Leaguers Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo. Both are promising players, ranking 11th and 15th respectively in the A’s farm system.

With neither player likely to be Major League-ready anytime soon, the exchange was strictly about the future. The club was able to add some depth in the Minors at third base and pitcher. That being said, the A’s still could fill a few holes in the farm.

Needs:

With Matt Chapman, Jaycob Brugman, Chad Pinder, Bruce Maxwell, Daniel Gossett, Paul Blackburn, Matt Olson, and Bobby Wahl all graduating to the Bigs, the A’s have plenty of space in the Minors. The real question at the deadline is what they will look for on the market.

After examining their depth at both the Major and Minor League levels, a few positions stand out:

Outfield

Center fielder Jaycob Brugman
Rajai Davis will be gone after this season. A terrible defender, Khris Davis should become the A’s primary DH. Besides Matt Joyce in right, the outfield is largely uncertain for next season. /

Of the two vacant outfield positions, left field should be the easier to fill. Infielders Chad Pinder and Matt Olson have each logged reps there this season. Though neither are likely to take the job outright, they could make a semi-productive platoon.

While Jaycob Brugman is defensively capable of manning center, I’m not sure he’s the long-term answer for the A’s. His modest gradings project him as more of a bench guy than an everyday player.

It would be smart for the A’s to find their center fielder of the future at the deadline. With Sonny Gray’s stock skyrocketing, they should have their pick at some quality young outfielders.

Pitcher

At first glance, it looks like the A’s have plenty of depth at pitcher. Sean Manaea, Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Paul Blackburn, Daniel Gossett, Bobby Wahl, and Ryan Dull are just a few of the club’s young arms.

With A.J. Puk and Grant Holmes projected to come up next season, why should the A’s go after another pitcher?

The simple answer is injuries. Of those mentioned above, Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Bobby Wahl, and Ryan Dull are all currently on the DL. With the rotation in shambles, the A’s recently called up 36-year-old Chris Smith to make his first two starts in the Bigs.

The A’s are in a position to not only contend, but contend soon. Adding more young arms will only speed up the process and limit the damage of an injury.

Catcher

With Bruce Maxwell being the A’s primary backstop of the future, catcher is not a void the organization must fill immediately.

A LHB, Maxwell is capable of producing both at the plate and behind the plate. His wWRC+ of 118 and positive defensive WAR this season make him one of the league’s few two-way catchers.

A's catcher Bruce Maxwell
OAKLAND, CA – MAY 07: Bruce Maxwell /

As good as Maxwell has been, Josh Phegley is the only other backstop on the 40-man roster. While he’s been good defensively with the A’s, his slash line of .236/.287/.403. hasn’t been encouraging.

Ryan Lavarnway is a suitable catcher to come up in the case of an injury. Posting a slash line of .262/.348/.374 in Triple-A, he’s an equitable third string.

Despite having depth at the position, the A’s currently have no catchers in their top 30 prospects. That’s right, zero. With the trade deadline looming, it’d be smart to grab one for the farm system.

Bottom Line:

With Jed Lowrie, Yonder Alonso, and Sonny Gray all on the market, the ball’s in the A’s court. The club should land at least one top prospect with each of the names listed above.

As Franklin Barreto, Matt Chapman, Daniel Gossett, Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman, Paul Blackburn, and Bobby Wahl all come off the prospect board, it’s important for the front office to restock their farm system. As a small-budget club, Oakland can’t afford to lack talent in the Minors.

If Beane and Co. play their cards right, the A’s should rank among the game’s top five farm systems after the deadline.

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