And so it begins …
We all knew the lock-out was merely postponing the inevitable trading away of some of our best players. The fact that we’ve been through this countless times makes it easier to cope with, but no less frustrating.
Overnight, Chris Bassitt joined the long line of A’s players moved on over the years in the hope that the next wave will finally break the cycle and actually be a team that can stick together for a while. The promise of a new ballpark at Howard Terminal gives us slightly more confidence this time, but not by much. Under current ownership, we’ll only believe it when we see it.
Let’s leave the wider context to another time and consider the deal on its own.
Bassitt has one year left remaining under contract and the return is very typical to what the A’s Front Office tends to look for in this situation.
J.T. Ginn is the higher risk/higher reward element. His talent made him a first round selection in the 2018 draft, but he decided not to accept the deal on offer from the L.A. Dodgers and instead headed to Mississippi State University. Sadly for Ginn, like so many other talented pitching prospects his progress was hit by Tommy John elbow surgery, but his potential was still enough for the Mets to make him a second round draft pick in 2020 and sign him to an over-slot $2.9m bonus.
Ginn showed lots of positives in 2021, logging 92 innings across Low-A and High-A whilst not suffering from the lack of command that pitchers often do in their first stage of Tommy John surgery recovery. The slight knock on his prospect status comes from the fact that he didn’t show quite the blazing fastball that made him a stand-out draft pick; however it is far from uncommon for it to take a couple of seasons after elbow surgery for the velocity to come back.
If it doesn’t, Ginn could still develop into a very decent starting pitcher for the A’s. If it does, he could be an impact starter. Either way, he looks to be a strong addition to our farm system. Indeed, MLB.com has immediately ranked him as our fourth best prospect. He’ll start the Minor League season in either Single-A Lansing or Double-A Midland and, injuries dependent, could make the Majors as soon as late 2023.
Adam Oller is the ‘plug-and-play’ part of the deal, a lower-ceiling prospect but one who has a chance to contribute in the Majors straight away.
Whilst he’s a different type of pitcher to Cole Irvin, he has a similar underdog status that us A’s fans always gravitate towards. He pitched in the Australian Baseball League in 2020 with the hope of trying to get his Minor League career back on track and he impressed enough for the Mets to give him an opportunity. Oller grabbed it with both hands and pitched effectively across 23 starts in Double-A and Triple-A last season.
He’s 27 years old so this seems like a perfect move for him at this stage in his career. Oller would have been firmly on the outside looking in with the Mets, yet he is likely to get a decent look in the Majors this season with the A’s, able to take a few lumps along the way as he develops his craft. It may not pan out for him, but he’s precisely the sort of player that it’s worth the A’s taking a chance with.
Here’s a good profile of Oller’s comeback story:
As for the departing C-Bass, I’m sure every A’s fan has nothing but good thoughts towards him. He really had to fight for a Major League career as a starting pitcher and it is always wonderful to see a player like that have their hard work pay off.
He’ll be part of a genuine World Series contender with the Mets this year, able to pick the brains of two of the best starting pitchers of this generation in Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, and has a couple of friends along for the ride in Mark Canha and Starling Marte.
A strong year in a big-media market will set him up to earn a multi-year free agent contract that will set his family up for life. I know it’s stating the obvious, but joining the Mets is a fantastic move for him and I hope he absolutely aces it with them.
Matt Olson is the obvious choice to be the next player heading to a new team, with Freddie Freeman’s future rumoured to be resolved in short order. The only delay may come in finalising trade terms given that the A’s will rightly be demanding a very strong prospect return.
Sean Manaea may therefore be the next beloved A’s departure to mourn, fetching a similar two-for-one package to that just received for Bassitt.