Day 3: A recap
DALLAS — At this time last year, A’s assistant general manager David Forst was fairly new to the concept of Twitter — or, rather, “The Tweeter,” as he called it at the time.
Forst has since become a fervent user of the online social networking service, not to relay his own thoughts and comments but to see those made by others, notably of the local and national media type covering the A’s.
So when Forst, who is representing the A’s through the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday following general manager Billy Beane’s Tuesday night departure, greeted just a small handful of reporters in his suite on Wednesday, he broke into a smile.
“The difference between me and Billy is that you know I have read every single thing all of you have written in the last 24 hours,” he said.
Plenty was written, particularly about All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who has been linked to the Blue Jays, D-backs, Phillies, Tigers, Reds, Marlins and, most recently, the Nationals. It’s likely more are in on the coveted southpaw, who is just 26 and under club control for four more years.
But the A’s are using the 2007 Dan Haren haul — Oakland landed Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Dana Eveland and Greg Smith from the D-backs for Haren and Connor Robertson — as parameters for a potential deal involving Gonzalez, and Forst noted Wednesday that “if something were what we were looking for, we could have done it by now.”
Still, Forst assured the club has “a lot of options” when asked if he’s been pleased with the offers that have been put forward for Oakland’s top players. But he didn’t expect a deal to be completed Wednesday night.
“I can confirm significant interest,” he said. “I’m not going to go through team by team. I’ve read all the names that have been thrown out there, all the scenarios. I wish I could respond to each rumor one by one, but 95 percent of that stuff is absolutely not true, when you’re talking about specific players. There’s a reason we try to keep that between us and the other team.
“Despite the fact Billy isn’t here, we’ve talked maybe a dozen times today. Separately, he and I have spoken to a handful of clubs. There’s no shortage of work being done, despite the fact he’s not physically here.”
Not surprisingly, there have been teams showing interest in more than one of Oakland’s players. The A’s are listening on all of them, excluding Jemile Weeks, and it’s safe thinking they’ve not only garnered interest in Gonzalez and fellow All-Star closer Andrew Bailey — linked already with the Red Sox, Rangers, Reds and Angels — but also righty Trevor Cahill and possibly a few of the club’s relievers.
When seeking return goods, Forst reiterated the fact that the team is looking to reel in “young guys who are controllable.” That includes players at all positions, at all levels — whether they’re just getting their feet wet at Class-A or knocking on the door to The Show. Simply put, think best prospects available.
But in the midst of the dozen rumors surrounding the A’s, there’s perhaps been a misunderstanding about their desire to move guys like Gonzalez and Bailey. In reality, there’s no need or want to. They’d gladly keep both around but, at the same time, recognize their situation — the green light on a new stadium could come through as soon as January, and a bunch of top-notch prospects could be ready when that stadium is ready, if built — allows them to keep their options open.
“There’s no mandate to trade guys,” Forst said. “We happen to have guys who are valuable, who have the potential to bring back players. But if you don’t trade them now, and you sit here 12 months from now, they’re still under control.”
The A’s, then, could very well find themselves with Gonzalez and/or Bailey still in tow come April, and they could explore dealing again around the Trade Deadline or at season’s end. But the possibility of any one of their players moving shortly after the Winter Meetings is still very real.
“It’s hard to say whether all of this leads to a completion of a deal,” Forst said of their five-day stay in Dallas. “But we certainly have a better view of the landscape than we did on Sunday. Billy always talks about how being here sort of generates conversation. Some of that is rumor, and some of that is actual work. The nice thing about being here — Billy complains a lot about the environment — is when opportunities or options come in, our entire staff is here and we have the proximity to have that conversation.”
But the A’s mindset about it all has remained unchanged. They’re staying course with the patient route.
“There’s no reason to jump in and do something,” Forst said.
Not until they’re overwhelmed with an offer.