As we approach July 31, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Oakland Athletics: 36-48, 5th in the AL West
The Athletics are already out of contention in the AL West, as they are 21 games back of the Astros for first place. They are only 7.5 games behind in the wild-card standings, but the odds of them snagging one of those two spots are slim.
So, the A’s already have their eyes on rebuilding the franchise with an influx of young talent, even though they have some quality veterans in ace Sonny Gray and first baseman Yonder Alonso. They have some young players in place with Ryon Healy and Matt Chapman (injured), but they also have a few top prospects waiting in the wings to come up to the big leagues.
All of this adds up to a July filled with intrigue for the A’s because they could set themselves up for success in the future since Gray is one of the biggest names rumored to be available and Alonso may draw interest as well.
What moves have they made so far?
Oakland made some signings in the winter, inking veterans Santiago Casilla, Matt Joyce, Trevor Plouffe and Rajai Davis to deals. However, they didn’t exactly help the A’s that much this year, as Plouffe was traded to the Rays after 58 games, and Joyce and Davis have combined to hit .223 with 12 homers and 43 RBI. As for Casilla, he has a 4.13 ERA despite making 14 saves.
They also designated former All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment on June 22 after he hit .217/.287/.357 with four homers over 174 plate appearances. Vogt was claimed by the Brewers three days later.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Sell! Sell! Sell!
For the third straight season, the Athletics are going to be big sellers. They have a few high-demand pieces who could bring them back a good number of prospects, particularly starting pitchers and outfielders, that can help revive the franchise.
Oakland dealt Rich Hill and Josh Roddick to the Dodgers at the deadline last year. The year before, the A’s traded Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clipart before the deadline, and are poised for a similar fire sale.
Who could they trade?
The A’s are probably going to be involved in a blockbuster trade, especially given the amount of interest in Gray and Alonso.
The 27-year-old Gray has drawn interest from the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Astros, with the Red Sox being the latest to join the pursuit of the righty. In addition, there is a mysterious National League team that is possibly looking to convert him to a closer.
Gray is one of the top arms available due to his past performance. He has posted a 3.52 ERA and 10.2-WAR in five major-league seasons. In addition, the former All-Star has a team-friendly contract, as he under control through 2019, giving contenders a pitcher who can not only help them win now but also help them keep vying for the postseason for possibly two more seasons.
Though no team has publicly inquired about him, Alonso has been among the key veterans from the A’s that scouts from the Red Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Braves, Blue Jays and Astros have recently looked at as a possible addition to their teams, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Alonso is enjoying a career offensive year in his final season before he's eligible for free agency, slashing .283/.377/.570 with 17 homers and 38 RBI. He also has a friendly contract, as he is only making $4 million this year, which makes him easy for the A’s to move even though he doesn’t want to leave.
In addition, Jed Lowrie, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson have also been linked to trade talks. Oakland will try to move Lowrie in order to allow Franklin Barretto to take over second base full time. Doolittle has drawn interest because he has been an All-Star and a quality closer when healthy. He was sidelined with a left shoulder strain this year and has been plagued by injuries since 2015. Madson is also a quality reliever who has postseason experience.
The Athletics will make a few big moves before July 31 passes.
Gray and Alonso will definitely be moved out of Oakland. Just like Jose Quintana of the White Sox, where Gray will go is tough to say because of all the different contenders interested in him and what they bring to the table. Alonso will in all likely be dealt just because he would be a nice, cheap rental for this season before he goes to free agency.
Lowrie appears to be on his way out because he has a modest contract ($6.5 million this season plus $6 million club option for 2018). Plus, the Athletics want to get their young talented infielders on the same field as soon as possible.
As far as Doolittle and Madson, one of them will be traded. Ideally, they would probably like to move Doolittle since he is under team control through possibly 2020 and he is only 30 years old compared to Madson, who is 36.