Oakland Athletics: Identifying The Core Players
By Joey Lopez
With plans for a new ballpark finally taking shape, the A’s will need to identify players who will still be around in five to six years.
The Oakland Athletics have remained loyal to their “Rooted In Oakland” campaign and have announced plans for a new ballpark near Laney College. The A’s will spend the next year or so trying to negotiate a land deal with the Peralta Community College District.
While the announcement was uplifting and energized, Dave Kaval and the A’s have plenty of challenges ahead of them. The A’s have acknowledged that the entire process of opening a new ballpark will likely take five to six years.
Fans should expect a new stadium by the year 2023.
In the meantime, the A’s should remain focused on their current rebuild project and identify the players they want to build around for the next six years.
Rooted In Oakland?
The A’s have assembled a nice young core of talent with the help of Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Franklin Barreto and Ryon Healy. In addition, the A’s also feature the likes of Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder as potential candidates for a future role with the club.
But in six years time, will a player like Semien still be wearing green and gold? That is the type of question that Billy Beane will need to answer as we head into 2018.
Oakland is in the midst of a massive rebuild, but Beane has done well over the last few seasons acquiring young talent. The A’s parted ways with Sonny Gray and received a trio of young prospects, including Dustin Fowler and Jorge Mateo.
Identifying the players they want to keep, though, will be Beane’s biggest challenge aside from remaining disciplined throughout the rebuild.
IDENTIFYING THE “CORE FOUR”
- Matt Chapman: The A’s have found a young, talented defender in Matt Chapman. Chapman’s defense has proven to be a tremendous asset for Oakland and his offense is starting to take shape. Chapman is 24 years old and would be 30 when the A’s introduce and open a new ballpark.
- Matt Olson: Olson has taken off since rejoining the A’s after Yonder Alonso‘s exit in August. Olson, like Chapman, offers the A’s stability at one of their corner infield spots. Defensively, Olson is solid and more than capable of manning the position by himself. Offensively, though, Olson has thrived. In 51 games this year, Olson has 19 HR and 38 RBI while slashing .267/.359/.634. The A’s know Olson is not going to be a .300 hitter, but they do know he possesses tremendous power and an ability to get on base. Olson is only 23 years old, but he is already making an impact on the big league level.
- Franklin Barreto: The A’s are banking on the success of Barreto, but have not yet handed him the keys to an everyday role with the club. Semien and Jed Lowrie are currently blocking Barreto from assuming an everyday role. Lowrie will likely be around next year, but Barreto should be considered a large part of Oakland’s long-term plans. Barreto remains the last significant piece of the Josh Donaldson deal that Beane made in 2014.
- Ryon Healy: At 25, Healy is older than Chapman, Olson and Barreto, but possesses great talent worth keeping. Healy has played various positions for the A’s this year, but has been primarily used as the team’s designated hitter. He is slashing .271/.302/.461 with 25 HR and 75 RBI this year. Will he be around for the A’s new ballpark? Who knows? It is certainly possible.
The A’s also have an incredibly talented farm-system that has been improving over the years. The A’s will likely debut A.J. Puk sometime next year and will have Dustin Fowler around in center field to start the season.
There is also Austin Beck, who would be around 24 when the ballpark eventually opens. The A’s have young talent both on the major league level and in their minor league system. Choosing who will stay and who will go, though, will be challenging for Beane.
Opening a new ballpark does not necessarily guarantee that the A’s will become big spenders. The success of the ballpark will depend on the product the A’s put out on the field. Hopefully, the A’s will have a few familiar faces in 2023.