Tim’s Offseason Plan – Low risk signings



Let the young guys develop and hope for the best.

I think that the A’s are close, and while the rebuild hasn’t been as efficient as we would have liked, it’s worth seeing through to the end. Therefore, I avoided trading any youngsters in favor of finding out what the A’s actually have in their youth with a few band aid like acquisitions to give the team a chance to contend in 2018.

I do think the A’s will make some trades, specifically a Healy or a Nunez (or both) moving for some solid relief arms. I didn’t make those trades in this plan, cause lord knows those trades will be for guys we could never predict. Not even trying.

Also, I’m operating under the assumption the A’s don’t extend any of their young potential stars or “buy” any bad contracts. I’m intrigued by both options but won’t believe it until I see it.

Arbitration

We’ll start with the arb guys.

  • Khris Davis – $11.1 million – Tender
  • Marcus Semien – $3.2 million – Tender
  • Kendall Graveman – $2.6 million – Tender
  • Blake Treinen – $2.3 million – Tender
  • Chris Hatcher – $2.2 million – Non-tender
  • Liam Hendriks – $1.9 million – Tender
  • Josh Phegley – $1.1 million – Non-tender, presuming the A’s can find a backup backstop on the cheap
  • Jake Smolinski – $700k – Tender

Trades

Going to start with trades because my free agent signings make little sense without this context.

Trade Jed Lowrie for Brandon McCarthy (LAD) OR Joe Kelly (BOS)

The Dodgers and Red Sox both need a temporary fill in at second, and Jed Lowrie could be that guy. McCarthy is probably more readily available, so I’d lean towards that being the move, but the Dodgers do love their injured pitchers.

The A’s didn’t lose anyone to free agency this year, and I suspect they’ll try to salvage value out of anyone headed that way in 2018. Lowrie had a great bounce back 2017, and should be an attractive stopgap for any contending team in the need of a solid second baseman next year.

A hat tip to Jed Lowrie for proving me so very wrong in 2017, and being a legitimately excellent part of that rebuilding team both on and off the field.

Free Agency

Sign Zack Cozart to a three year, $40 million contract

I’m enamored with Zach Cozart. He’s been a great defender his whole career, to go along with a bat that has been steadily solid, including an All-Star like 2016.

I’m aware this is not going to actually happen. Cozart will go somewhere where there’s a more obvious need, and there’d be too much displacement for him really to make sense in Oakland. But this is me officially saying he’s the steal of the offseason, and some team is walking into a rare wonderful free agent deal.

In this make believe scenario, the A’s stick Cozart at short and shift Semien to second. That should give the A’s an excellent infield to save some runs for a pitching staff that really needs a little bit of help. Can you imagine the A’s with a top infield defense? It’s not far off, if it’s not here already.

Sign Alex Avila to a two year, $16 million contract

For a very ugly reason, it looks like the A’s need a catcher.

Alex Avila has had a fabulous under the radar career, routinely hitting at above a league average rate. He’s a solid defender too, something the A’s haven’t had in recent days and if his bat doesn’t hold up, he’d still be an asset. And I think he’ll hit, as he did last year, and as his underlying ridiculously high hard hit rate supports.

I’m not married to the idea of signing him. For the first time in just about forever, the A’s don’t project any offensive black holes. All nine spots looks like they’ll be above league average. The A’s can stomach a bad hitting catcher if he can defend, and I’d be okay with going for a glove first guy.

So Avila or someone else: just find a guy who excels at some aspect of the game behind the dish.

Sign Matt Albers to a two year, $5 million contract

Great relievers gave up like two billion dingers in the postseason, and it’s obvious that with a juiced ball, the ability to limit the longball is increasing in importance near to the level of the ability to miss bats. Albers keeps the ball in the yard.

Albers has a cult podcast following from his remarkable ability to avoid gathering a save, which I’ll admit does factor into this desire to sign him. I truly think he’ll be a steal in free agency, not a late inning sub 2.00 ERA guy like he pretended to be last year, but a fine reliever to plug in the middle of games with the occasional high leverage outing on the so very cheap.

Sign Pat Neshek to a two year $10 million contract

I don’t know if the Astros will pick up his option, but again, relievers and dingers and the A’s need bodies.

Sign Trevor Rosenthal to a two year, $12 million contract

Cozart is to position players as Rosenthal is to relievers. It’s been exactly 0 days since the A’s picked up a struggling reliever with great stuff, changed exactly nothing about him, plopped him in a new environment (it helps that Matt Chapman is around and the Coliseum is a good place to pitch but yeah) and had tremendous success. Here’s the chance to snag another closer like talent in buy-low fashion.

Throw Rosenthal out there in mid-leverage situations, let him regain some confidence and boom. You’ve got a quality reliever at a bargain rate.

Sign Tyler Chatwood to a two year, $15 million contract

Finding the next Rich Hill will be harder each offseason. Chatwood gets groundballs in spite of his home park being Coors – I’m eager to find out what he can do in a place like Oakland.

Alternative Plan: Shohei the money!

Shock the world and sign Babe Ruth incarnate.

(It’s not going to happen)

Summary

The A’s have a fair amount of cash to spend this offseason. I’d love to see them buy a bad contract in conjunction with a star, but until it happens, I’m not going to consider it a real option.

Therefore, the A’s should sign a handful of high upside guys to fill in where the A’s need bodies. Not all will work out and some will affect spending in the future but the A’s are close enough where smart risks should be taken.