Oakland A’s Trade Deadline Preview

The next act in the Oakland A’s latest rebuilding project will conclude on Tuesday August 2nd at the MLB trade deadline.

The official deadline is 6pm Eastern, meaning 3pm Pacific and 11pm here in the UK. That’s when deals have to be agreed by, although – as with the football transfer deadline – late agreements can become public during the hour or so after the buzzer has sounded.

So far, the A’s only departure of note has been Christian Bethancourt, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 9th. We can expect at least one more name to be added to the list by Tuesday night. Here are the main candidates.

Frankie Montas

Contract status: Earning $5m this year, plus one further year of salary arbitration

Frankie may have been with a new team already had an ill-timed bout of shoulder soreness not put him on the sidelines just before the All-Star break. As a genuine high-quality starting pitcher, and one with another full season under contract after this one, he is a very desirable addition for a number of teams hoping to make play-off runs.

Montas has been grouped in the trade rumour mill with Cincinnati Reds pitchers Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle as the three top starting pitcher trade targets (Reds fans being in a similarly depressing situation as us in going through another rebuild).

The Seattle Mariners jumped head-first into the trade market on Friday by dealing away four prospects, including two particularly highly-valued shortstops, for Castillo. That has put Montas at the top of the available starting pitcher list, with Mahle a slightly cheaper alternative option.

The A’s don’t have to trade Frankie now. He’ll still have plenty of value left in the off-season; however history shows that teams will be prepared to pay a premium to add a player for an additional play-off push, so the only way Montas will still be in Green and Gold come Wednesday is if his shoulder starts acting up again. He isn’t scheduled to pitch again until Tuesday night and you can guarantee that the A’s will be keeping him in cotton wool between now and then.

Where might he land? Well, the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals are the two teams most heavily linked to him at the moment, whilst the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins could clearly do with rotation reinforcements, and the Rays and Blue Jays might get in the mix too.

Chad Pinder

Contract status: $2.7M this year, then a free agent this off-season

After Frankie, everyone else falls into the camp of being potentially trade-able, but only if a particularly worthwhile offer is on the table.

Chad falls into that category on the basis that he’s a free agent at the end of this season, so if the A’s can get anything for him rather than walk for free then it may make sense to do so.

Pinder’s a fan favourite for many of us, but he has a desperate .268 on-base percentage this season so there won’t be a huge demand for him. He does bring some good defensive flexibility, being able to handle a host of positions, and a bit of power, so we may find a team that sees some value in adding a utility player to their roster whilst only giving up a controllable Minor League depth piece for him.

Ramón Laureano

Contract status: Approx. $2m this year, plus two further years of salary arbitration

Ramón’s name is being mentioned because we all know the level of talent that he possesses; however, 2022 has been an awkward season for him coming off the drug suspension and he still has two years under contract after this one.

It seems more likely that he will stay with the team for now, with the hope that he will continue to rebuild his value either for the off-season market or for next season’s trade deadline.

Sean Murphy

Contract status: $725k this year, plus three further years of salary arbitration

As for Murphy, beyond the obvious point that there will always be interest in good players, I really can’t see a situation in which the A’s are likely to part with him over the next couple of days. There is no financial reason to do so given that he is on a small salary and still has three years under club control after this one.

The trade rumours are predominantly coming on the back of the form being shown in Triple-A by our top prospect Shea Langeliers, but unless we are really bowled over by a trade proposal right now I don’t think that will change our Front Office’s thinking.

Langeliers has all the tools to establish himself as our catcher for years to come and, whilst the excitement he creates make us fans eager to see him as soon as possible, the priority for the Front Office should be to do the best thing for his development.

Hitting in the Big Leagues is a completely different proposition to hitting Triple-A pitching in Vegas. Add on the demands of catching in the Majors to that workload and it could be to the detriment of Langeliers’ development, and some of our pitchers, to expect him to jump into an almost full-time role over the final two months of this season (Stephen Vogt would be a great teammate for Shea to learn from, but we have to be realistic about the workload Vogt can shoulder behind the plate).

We also have to remember the benefits a gold-glover like Murphy brings to our pitching staff and how he can help them finish off this season strongly to set them up for a step forward next year.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that the best development path for Langeliers is to get a full Spring Training under his belt, working with Murphy and the Big League pitching staff, then sharing the workload in the first half of 2023 and assessing things from there. It just depends on whether a team really pushes to add Murphy at the deadline and if the prospect package is too enticing to ignore.

Lou Trivino

Contract status: $3M this year, plus two further years of salary arbitration

Lou is the last man on my list on the basis that plenty of play-off chasing teams are looking for another bullpen arm and, given our situation, any potential offer for Trivino is worth listening to.

I have taken to referring to him as Liability Lou after some of his recent blow-ups, but in fairness he has pitched well at times this season (including his last two outings) and we’ve seen him operating as a high-leverage reliever in the past.

Teams with significantly higher payrolls than ours may see a reasonable investment (in a couple of lower-value prospects and salary) in trading for him as a 6th/7th inning guy who could have spells of being more than that over the two years remaining under contract.

Ordinarily we would sit tight and see if he can rack up some saves to then trade him in the off-season or at next year’s trade deadline at a higher prospect value; however, our penny-pinching ways mean that saving the $1M left for this year and some of the approx. $4M that a salary-arbitration bump would give him next season may well be too appealing to overlook.

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