Subject to any post-deadline announcements, the A’s have added four Major Leaguers to the team in Starling Marte, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison and Andrew Chafin, with Jesús Luzardo and five prospects making way.
Starling Marte is the easiest one to review as he was exactly the type of player the A’s were crying out for. He gets on base a lot, brings some speed and is a quality option across the three outfield spots. Marte showed his worth straight away in his debut for the A’s on Thursday against the Angels, performing well in the two-spot behind Canha and in front of Olson and slotting into centre in a very impressive defensive outfield with Canha and Laureano.
Yan Gomes is a major upgrade over Aramis Garcia. Not only is he a good all-round player in his own right, having Gomes around will also mean Sean Murphy isn’t being forced into an overly taxing work schedule. A Murphy and Gomes pairing is a strong pairing indeed.
As for Josh Harrison, he’s another quality veteran hitter who consistently gives you good at-bats against lefties and righties. How Bob Melvin will use him remains to be seen. The obvious choice would be to make him the primary second baseman and use Jed Lowrie at DH, although that raises the question about where Mitch Moreland fits in? He’s not an ideal bench player given that he’s limited to first base and doesn’t hit lefties; however it’s not an easy choice just to cut him completely.
Whichever way that goes, the overall depth of our group of position players has undoubtedly improved thanks to these trades.
On the pitching side, Andrew Chafin looks like being a great fit for our bullpen, both on the field and off it. He’s not a closer though and adding another quality reliever would have really helped, not least in moving the likes of Trivino and Diekman down a spot to where their talents arguably are more suited.
Adding a closer at the deadline is never easy, not least as ‘proven closers’ are never a guarantee to come through for you either. The Pirates’ Richard Rodríguez was one name mentioned and would have been a good addition to our group, yet his price was almost certainly being inflated by the fact that he’s been picking up saves as a closer on a non-contender rather than pitching the 7th or 8th inning on a better ballclub. Maybe it would have still been worth a shot, but if our Front Office didn’t like the prospect cost then I’m fine with them walking away.
Put it all together and it adds up to a very decent improvement to the strength of our roster, especially considering how little payroll space the Front Office had to work with (as per usual). Losing Jesus Luzardo was a real shame, yet that was the unavoidable cost in acquiring a player of Marte’s calibre when we needed to offer a deal to the Marlins good enough for them to give us the $4.5m to pay Marte’s salary.
Where it leads us
If you’ve been following the A’s for any length of time you’ll be aware that there is going to be a trade-off for all these trades.
Even coming into this season there was a feeling among many that this might be the last real crack at success with this group of players. Whilst we could try to patch the big holes left by Marcus Semien and Liam Hendriks this past off-season, this coming winter will be defined by:
- Mark Canha, Jed Lowrie, Mitch Moreland, Sergio Romo, Yusmeiro Petit and Mike Fiers becoming free agents , alongside the newly acquired Marte, Gomes, Harrison and Chafin (the latter has a mutual option for 2022, which looks unlikely to be activated),
- Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea having one year left under contract and coming off excellent seasons (we know how that story goes …),
- The two Matts having two years left under contract.
Bob Melvin recently had his one-year contract option taken up by the team, but all signs point to 2022 being his last with the club too, and the rumours that Billy Beane is likely to move on in the near future refuse to go away.
Add on the continued uncertainty over the new ballpark plans, and the additional uncertainty around the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and a major re-set is appearing on the horizon.
We’ve been here plenty of times before and no doubt we’ll be here plenty of times again. The lesson we should always remember is to enjoy the good times for as long as they last.
And thanks to the work done by the Front Office this past week, this should be a fun team to watch over the rest of this season.