As we rung in what is looking to be a year of optimism, a sense of hope sprang eternal for baseball fans. On Tuesday January 12, it was reported that commissioner Rob Manfred sent a memo to all teams to be prepared for spring training and the season to start on time. The MLB Players Union and owners are far from settling on an agreement, and the status of fans being allowed in ballparks next season still remains to be seen. However, a sense of hope is on the horizon for fans and players. Spring training could be underway as early as next month. With teams starting to spend more on free agents, the A’s have been victim to both losses, re-signings, and minor player pickups. But the team is still yet to know the fate for most of their key free agents.
News Of The Past Weeks
Dave Stewart Make $115 Million Bid For Oakland Coliseum Share
Oakland A’s pitching legend Dave Stewart has put forward a $115 million bid to redevelop the Oakland Coliseum site, even if the A’s don’t build the new stadium there. Stewart, an Oakland native, pitched eight seasons for the A’s and was an instrumental part of the 1989 World Series Championship team, winning the World Series MVP. His MVP performance in that World Series stretched beyond the field. He helped out first responders in Oakland in the days following the deadly 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake that disrupted the World Series. Since then, the Oakland native has remained active in the community. “It’s not about moving the A’s,” Stewart told Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s about creating an East Oakland that people want to be a part of, where people want to fly in from Oakland Airport.” Stewart’s bid is to buy the city of Oakland’s share of the coliseum, which could be a positive step in reaffirming that the A’s will remain in Oakland.
Stadium To Potentially Serve As Mas Vaccination Site
On Friday, January 15, according to Kron4 News, the A’s have advanced in making the Oakland Coliseum a mass Covid-19 vaccination site. Following the announcement of several sporting facilities, such as Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles and Petco Park in San Diego being used as mass vaccination sites, the team has been in talks about the stadium becoming a site. This proposal however, is yet to receive approval by Alameda County. Team president Dave Kavel commented that the facility could be vaccinating residents as soon as February and an announcement could be made as early as next week.
Holy Toledo! The King Is In The Hall Of Fame Again!
On January 11 it was announced that legendary A’s radio broadcaster Bill King had been voted into the National Sports Media Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 class. Known for his signature “holy toledo” call during thrilling moments, King was a bay area broadcasting icon for the ages. He called games for the A’s, Warriors, and Raiders. His 25 years as the A’s broadcaster is the longest in franchise history. This honor comes after King received baseball’s most prestigious honor among broadcasters in 2017, as the recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award. This award is given annually to just one baseball broadcaster.
Free Agent/Trade Moves
Returns: A’s Re-Sign Six Arbitration Eligible Players
A’s re-signed all six of their remaining arbitration eligible players for the 2021 season; starters Chirs Bassitt, Frankie Montas, and Sean Manea, reliever Lou Trivino, outfielder Mark Canha, and star third baseman Matt Chapman. Chapman’s All-Star 2019 campaign and back-to-back platinum glove performances have made him an elite player over the past three seasons. His performances have earned him a $43,500 raise in his contract for the 2021 season, bringing his contract to $6,490,000. Chapman’s season was cut short due to a right hip injury that he might need a little more then the start of the season to recover from. Bassitt also received a significant boost as he put up by far the best numbers among A’s starters last season. This potentially earned him the role as the ace of the pitching staff as he is now earning a seven digit contract. Canha also got a raise in his final year of arbitration eligibility as did Montas and Trivino in their first years of arbitration eligibility. Trivino will likely be a strong candidate for the A’s closer void with the departure of Liam Hendriks.
A’s star closer Liam Hendriks officially inked a four year $54 million deal on Friday January 15, with the Chicago White Sox. The 31-year old closer was bound to sign with another team as his value has skyrocketed after two consecutive season’s as one of baseball’s most effective relievers. With a 2021 payroll at just 64 million the A’s knew they would have to seek out other options to fill that closer void for Hendriks. It will be some of the hardest shoes to fill for the team as Hendriks put up a miniscule WHIP of 0.671 in 2020, while posting 13.1 strikeouts through nine innings in each of the past two seasons. The A’s certainly have bullpen options going down the line to replace Hendriks. But the charisma and competitiveness he brought to the team will be greatly missed for a while. “I loved the guys in that clubhouse. It’s a great group of guys,” Hendriks told MLB Network on his time with the A’s. “We all banded together throughout the pandemic and were able to pull out a good season. Unfortunately, it didn’t end the way we wanted to.”
On Tuesday January 5 the Detroit Tigers signed outfielder Robbie Grossman to a two-year $10 million contract. Grossman, whose role was mostly that of a fourth outfielder in his three seasons with the A’s, saw more of an everyday role this past season. The A’s have a plethora of outfielder depth including a young core waiting for their call-ups. Grossman should be an upgrade for a Tigers team looking to improve their offensive core. He has been a valuable asset to the A’s as a switch hitter and left fielder who covers a wide range in the outfield. The A’s next pursuit should be to find a left-handed hitting outfielder to replace him in an A’s lineup heavy with righties.
A’s acquired left handed reliever Nick Turley from the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash. Turley, pitched a major league career high 21.2 innings in 2020, striking out 20 batters while surrendering a 4.98 ERA. Turley comes to an A’s team seeking more lefty arms behind Jake Diekman who is a top candidate to take over as the team’s closer. The team is yet to re-sign last year’s promising mid-late inning lefty reliever in TJ McFarland.
Down The Farm
The A’s agreed to a $2.5 million with MLB Pipeline’s No. 13 Prospect outfielder Pedro Pineda. According to MLB.com the seventeen-year-old from the Dominican Republic is an “explosive” raw talent. This should show with his speed both on the basepaths and in the outfield. However, he’s also shown promise in other facets of the game, both as a corner outfielder with a strong arm that is looking to develop better accuracy overtime, and as a power hitter with his bat speed capabilities to various fields. Does that scouting report sound familiar? If his assets remind you of A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano, you are not alone. A’s made 11 other minor league free agent signings this month.
Other Top Prospects
In the past Green and Gold Reports I talked about a few of the teams top prospects. Here are some of the top prospects I did not dive into in previous weeks.
Robert Puason (SS) ETA: 2024
With the Arizona fall league being canceled in 2020, the 6’3, number 2 prospect on MLB’s Pipeline’s top-rated international prospect list in 2019-2020, did not get a chance to showcase speed or fielding abilities. On top of his ability to do it all in the field at the shortstop position, Puason can produce line drives from both sides of the plate and perhaps can develop power overtime. Oh and did we mention he is a plus runner? What’s not to be excited about this kid?
Luis Barrera (OF) ETA: 2021
The line drive hitting outfielder has not yet had the chance to show his potential at the major league level due to being hampered by a shoulder injury in 2019. Barrera is a plus runner with an above average arm and fielding ability. While he doesn’t hit for much power the A’s certainly can use another lefty in their lineup, particularly in the outfield now that Grossman’s gone. There is every indication that Barrera could be the one to replace Grossman.
Jeff Criswell (RHP) ETA: 2023
The A’s second round pick in the 2020 draft, Criswell was beginning a transition to starting pitcher while at the University of Michigan. While he is still working on his control he showed that he can maintain a consistent velocity at 93-96 MPH as a starter. He also has a slider and changeup to work with in his repertoire.