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: 57-43, 3rd in the AL West
The Athletics had one of the more surprising first halves of the season. Their record would be good to lead two of the six divisions in baseball (AL Central and NL West).
Unfortunately, they reside in the AL West, where they are in third behind the juggernaut Astros (eight games) and the much improved Mariners. They are also trail the Yankees and Mariners in the wild card race (three games behind the M’s for the second wild card).
Because they are within striking distance at least for the second wild card, the Athletics have to be buyers at the deadline. This wasn’t the thinking a couple of weeks ago, as most believed they were going to be sellers.
What moves have they made so far?
Oakland officially became a buyer on Saturday by acquiring closer Jeurys Familia from the Mets for prospects William Toffey and Bobby Wahl plus international bonus pool money.
The move boosts the A’s bullpen because they now have a former All-Star teaming up with their current All-Star closer Blake Treinen (24 saves in 28 opportunities, 1.08 ERA) to give them a quality 1-2 punch in the late innings. Another big part of this deal is that they did not have to give up better prospects for the free-agent-to-be Familia, as Toffey was ranked 17th in their system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Because of this, the Athletics could still try to improve other areas of the club in the next week if they feel they have a realistic shot at the postseason.
Who (else) could they buy?
After already making a move for a reliever, the A’s reportedly have interest in Tigers right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News and Jon Morosi of MLB Network.
Though Morosi says the talks between the two teams have not started, he points out that the Athletics could go after a guy like Fiers — a starter who is cheap (only making $6 million this year and eligible for arbitration next year) and not a free agent until 2020 — because they still have the “prospect depth” to make another move. Plus, Fiers is having a pretty solid season (3.49 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 111 innings pitched across 19 starts), so he could be a nice addition to a rotation that has to try to compete against a dominating Astros staff and a Mariners staff that has a mix of veterans and young talent who have pitched well up to this point.
The Athletics could also try to make a bigger splash on the starting pitcher market such as trying to acquire Jake Odorizzi or Lance Lynn from the Twins, who are basically out of contention a year after earning the second wild card. Odorizzi is at least a controllable player, as he is under contract through next year, while Lynn is a free agent after this season.
The Athletics will find a way to add Fiers by the time the deadline expires. Fires fits the bill as to what type of player the Athletics want to have on their roster. In addition, the prospect depth is a huge plus for them to have because they will be able to help the team that Fiers is currently on since it is in the middle of a rebuild.
By making another move, it shows that Billy Beane and company are serious about making a push for the playoffs — something they haven't reached since 2014 when they lost in the wild card game to the Royals.