A's to go shopping for a shortstop at Meetings
Club lacking everyday starter, has valuable trade options
OAKLAND -- The A's enjoyed great success last season, much to the surprise of many, but dropping Game 5 of the American League Division Series to the Tigers left them yearning for more.
Luckily, most of the core pieces that led them there are set to return, but Oakland is still looking to reel in upgrades this winter in an effort to enjoy continued progress.
That process will be under the spotlight of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., next week, where A's general manager Billy Beane will converge with other club executives and agents.
Though the A's have shown a propensity to keep mostly quiet during this annual event, they've also tended to make a move or two quickly after its conclusion. Should that trend continue, such a move would likely involve a shortstop, which stands as the club's most pressing need.
Beyond that, the A's will likely continue adding depth at all positions to guard against injuries, which served them well this year.
Here is a quick glance at Oakland's situation heading into the Winter Meetings, which begin Monday:
Shortstop: Finding a trade partner to help fill this empty roster spot could very well be at the top of Beane's agenda. After declining Stephen Drew's $10 million mutual option, the A's are left with a trio of backup types in Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and the recently acquired Andy Parrino, with no one in the system to assume the everyday role and a slim free-agent market to pick from.
Who they can or need to trade
RHP A.J. Griffin: Griffin, unlike fellow youngster Dan Straily, is more likely to be considered trade bait, should the A's get desperate for a shortstop, and could be just the ticket to land one in Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera. The Indians are in need of rotation help, and Griffin -- rather than one of Oakland's top pitching prospects -- assures them of an arm with big league experience.
OF Coco Crisp: Should the A's be unwilling to part with any of their pitchers, as has been suggested by Beane, he could choose to dangle Crisp -- set to make $7 million in 2013. Though such a scenario is made possible by the abundance of outfield talent on their roster, it doesn't figure to be a popular one in Oakland's front office, which expects Crisp to continue playing a key role for the A's at the top of their lineup next year.
Outfielder Michael Choice, infielders Addison Russell, Grant Green, Miles Head and Daniel Robertson and right-handers A.J. Cole and Sonny Gray
Though plenty of these names, particularly those with a pitching arm, likely come up in discussions regarding potential deals, the A's feel no need to part with any of their top prospects, especially after the lengths they went to in an effort to stockpile them.
Rule 5 Draft
The A's 40-man roster is at capacity, so the team would need to clear room if it wanted to select a player in next Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Things could change, but right now it seems unlikely Oakland would add someone in the Major League portion of the Draft. As things stand, the A's have more than 40 players in their system that are eligible for Rule 5 selection. Some notable players within that group include right-hander James Simmons and Bruce Billings and infielder/outfielder Conner Crumbliss.
Arbitration-eligible: 1B Daric Barton ($1.1 million in 2011), LHP Jerry Blevins ($490,000), C George Kottaras ($700,000), 1B Brandon Moss ($480,000), INF Adam Rosales ($600,000), OF Seth Smith ($2.415 million)
Non-tender candidates: Barton, Rosales
The A's payroll will surely increase from the $55 million they carried in 2012, as $34 million in payroll is already tied up for just five players: Brett Anderson, Chris Young, Yoenis Cespedes, Crisp and Grant Balfour. Add in the raises to be awarded to the club's arbitration-eligible players and the salaries of the rest of the roster, and it's feasible that the A's could be looking at a payroll of $60-65 million.