With three quality trade chips, the Oakland Athletics look to collect a swath of young talent at the deadline.
As confirmed by Executive VP of Baseball Ops. Billy Beane, the rebuild is upon us. Over the next week, we should see the process in full swing as the A’s continue to ship out veterans. With so many prospects graduating to the Bigs this season, the club should hoard Minor League talent.
In Washington’s trade for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, the A’s netted bullpen arm Blake Treinen along with prospects Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo. Now that the relievers are gone, let’s focus on some of the other trade chips:
Simply put, the second baseman is enjoying a career year. Holding down a .272 average with 40 XBH, Lowrie has hit for both power and average. He’s also one of the few A’s to own a positive value in defensive WAR.
With a team option of only $6 million in 2018, Lowrie should be valued on the market as more than just a rental. Combined with his ability to also play short and third, he’s worth at least one top prospect.
With Todd Frazier heading to the Yankees, the Red Sox find themselves in a unique situation.
At first glance, the storied franchise looks like a perfect candidate to land Lowrie. Third base has been a disaster for them this season. Sandoval‘s been DFA‘d, Marrero‘s hitting .214, and Rutledge is hitting just 10 points higher with no pop.
Here’s the kicker: the club has gone the entire 2017 season without their everyday third baseman Brock Holt. Now healthy, the former All-Star has made his return to the field. So will Boston continue to pursue a third baseman before the deadline?
From a statistical standpoint, they should.
Even when healthy, Holt has failed to hit for a wRC+ of 100 (that of an average batter) in any of his six Major League seasons.
Not to mention, he’s hit .220 in Triple-A and .189 in the Majors this year.
A switch-hitter, Lowrie could finally stop the blood-shed at third base. His offensive numbers this season are significantly better than any in-house option for the Sox.
Should Boston come calling, the A’s will look to collect Bobby Dalbec or Roniel Raudes in return. Dalbec (3B) and Raudes (RHP) both rank among their top five prospects. However, neither are projected to be Major League ready until 2019, making them easier for the Sox to part with.
As the seventh overall pick of the 2008 MLB draft, Alonso is finally living up to the hype. In 83 games this season, the veteran first baseman has posted an impressive .272/.374/.554 slash line. He’s hit 15 2Bs and 21 HRs in the midst of his first All-Star campaign.
Despite his being open to a long-term deal, the A’s first baseman should be thrown on the market as a trade chip.
On the final year of his contract and having a career year, Alonso is an ideal piece to cash in on. As nice as it would be to see the Miami-product in green and gold, it’s not the right time for the A’s to sign a big-money extension.
Beane and Co. are committed to a complete rebuild and an influx of prospects would greatly help them in doing so. That said, where will Alonso land?
The Yankees are a solid match. After Greg Bird‘s injury, the Bronx Bombers have had a hard time filling his shoes. First, they tried slugger Chris Carter, who managed an OPS of just .653 before being DFA‘d earlier this month. He’s currently being replaced by rookie Garrett Cooper.
With Greg Bird not having a timeline for return, Alonso would be a great addition for the young club at first base. He’d provide a nice left-handed bat to their lineup and a veteran voice to their clubhouse. The Yanks also have the pieces to acquire him.
However, it will be interesting to see who the front office will give up. The Yankees, despite having a good year, are still in the midst of their own youth movement. They weren’t expected to be ready to compete this season.
With a core of young talent knocking on the door, they’re probably not willing to mortgage their future. New York still has seven guys in their farm who rank among the league’s top 100 prospects. All of them grade out as 55 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Outfield prospect Blake Rutherford looked like an ideal target for the A’s. But with his being moved in the Todd Frazier trade, they’ll have to look elsewhere on the farm.
Estimated to arrive sometime in 2019, James Kaprielian seems to be the top prospect the Yanks would be most willing to part with. Still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in April, the A’s could get him for a fraction of his value.
Outfielder Dustin Fowler is another option. Upon colliding with a wall in his Major League debut, Fowler ruptured a patellar tendon in his knee, prematurely ending his season. The A’s could get the young outfielder for cheap should New York continue to express interest in Alonso.
Let the bidding war, begin!!!
As the best starting pitcher on the market, Sonny Gray has attracted lots of attention from multiple clubs. While his 3.66 ERA doesn’t indicate dominance, he’s finally put arm issues behind him. In his last five starts, Gray’s posted a better combined figure of 1.62.
Gray also comes at a bargain with two arbitration-eligible seasons left on his contract.
So who will land him?
Any kind of prediction wouldn’t do the Oakland front office justice. With so many teams linked to Gray, this trade is truly a case of who offers the A’s the most for his services.
That said, a few teams stand out:
The Yankees are in need of both a starting pitcher and a first baseman, two positions the A’s are selling.
A deal involving both Alonso and Gray should send three top prospects (and others) to Oakland. The A’s could receive both James Kaprielian and Dustin Fowler. Other possibilities are Justus Scheffield (LHP), Miguel Andujar (3B), and Albert Abreu (RHP).
In spite of a lot of talk, the Astros would have to offer the A’s a king’s ransom to get Gray.
As division rivals, the A’s play six series against Houston this season. It’s hard enough to go up against Keuchel and McCullers. Could you imagine a three-game series in which A’s hitters would have to face Keuchel, McCullers, and Gray!? Forget about it.
In order for Beane and Forst to send their ace to Houston, their AL West foes would have to send their entire farm system to Oakland. That’s not an exaggeration.
The Brewers may be the best option here. They have three outfielders among their top six prospects. Of those Corey Ray should be the easiest for the A’s to swipe. Still in High-A, the 22-year-old isn’t expected to get the call anytime this season.
The Brewers also have a fair amount of young pitchers. The A’s could tag more than two of them in a deadline deal.
The part in question is whether or not the Brewers plan on making an all-out push this season. At 52-47, they’re only a game ahead of the Cubs.
With a deadly rotation and powerful lineup, Chicago is still the best team in the NL Central.
With three really good guys to deal, the A’s should be able to restock their farm system in a big way. Assuming Beane can work his magic once more, the Athletics should have one of the top five Minor League systems in baseball after the deadline.