With the trade deadline this week, every fan hopes for a move that will make an impact on their team. For some, it's getting that one last critical piece to put the team over the edge for a World Series. For others, it could be the start of accumulating established multiple players to improve over the coming seasons.
For the Athletics, neither of these are options. With the impending move to Las Vegas, the deadline should be particularly quiet for Oakland. Instead, they need a new strategy once this season ends. What exactly is that strategy? Just light it all up, watch it burn and, hopefully, rise from the ashes in the deserts of Nevada. No more of this trade deadline talk.
Why the A's should wait until the end of the season?
This seems like an easy question. With just 30 wins at the end of July, there is a much deeper answer. When the A's get to their new home, they will have an uphill battle and nothing can be done right now to lessen this burden.
There is no expansion draft for the Las Vegas team.
To bring the A's to Las Vegas, Nevada lawmakers noted the success of the Golden Knights (they actually beat this point to oblivion). But the differences between an NHL expansion team and the A's move could not be more apparent.
The NHL already had a presence in Las Vegas long before 2017. The city hosted a pre-season game between the Rangers and the Kings in 1991 - almost 30 years before the arrival of the Knights. The NHL held award ceremonies there, and the indoor arena was in the works since 2014. The MLB has not made this type of effort to have a presence in Las Vegas.
More importantly, the Golden Knights had the Expansion Draft and chose available players from 30 NHL teams. Many of individual players had their own following, who became fans to the team. For the A's, there is no special draft. They need to trade or buy for guys that have at least some star power. Players with their own followers that can grow a new fanbase.
Before you say this is unrealistic, the A's have a team value of $1.18 billion - obviously small in comparison to big market teams. But to put this into perspective, the Minnesota Twins total value is $1.39 billion. They found the money to pay (an aging but still popular) Carlos Correa a $200 million guaranteed contract. Are they winning a World Series soon? Probably not. But I still tune in to watch an All-Star and World Series champion play in a small market. And I have never been a Correa fan. This is precisely what the A's would need.
Low ratings in the smallest TV market.
Las Vegas holds the smallest TV market for Major League Baseball. The city ranks 40th in ratings. This is ahead of only 6 other cities, none of which have professional baseball teams. Las Vegas would also be the smallest market for a city home to 3 professional sports teams. Currently, A's players with the biggest names are not going to create a significant increase in interest once the move is made. Honestly, Tony Kemp and Seth Brown will not get the casual channel-surfer excited about their city's new team.
If the A's can't trade for players like a Correa, there is another option. They should trade their more well-known, semi-productive players, including Kemp and Jace Pederson, for young prospects and underdeveloped players to foster a new culture for the team. During the inevitable growing pains after the move (which could take years), local fans can get excited about fresh faces not associated with the current Oakland team.
This is different and the front office has to accept that.
This move will take a lot more than shaking hands with politicians and maintaining the depressing status quo. The front office needs to realize what makes them different from any other team that has come to Las Vegas in the last 5 years.