Beane: “We’re in great shape”
OAKLAND — Jonny Gomes was in no rush to leave the Coliseum on Friday morning, and it seems the A’s are in no rush to make him.
Less than 24 hours after the team’s season-ending loss to the Tigers in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, Gomes was one of only a handful of players back in the A’s clubhouse, the scene of this club’s ringleader playing out to the background of team officials stating their desire for his return.
The veteran Gomes provided the surprising AL West champion A’s more than a $1 million impact right-handed bat, and it’s the addition of his unmatched leadership and clubhouse presence that could easily tempt them to resign him.
“I think it’s probably a work in progress right now to do that,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Billy [Beane] understands that as well as anybody. Nothing’s for sure, but my guess is there are probably some talks going on either now or very quickly.”
Beane made it no secret on Friday that he likes his team and would enjoy seeing much of it back next year, noting that, “by and large, if any moves are made, it would be additions” this winter. Keeping the 31-year-old Gomes falls within those plans.
“He would be part of that macro statement, I think under that umbrella of the idea to have this team back,” Beane said. “As it relates to each individual, we’ll discuss it, but we’d like to see these guys back.”
Said Gomes: “I was grateful to play for Tampa, the Reds, Washington. I don’t go into the offseason looking to sign with a contender, because I don’t buy into that. Whatever clubhouse I’m in is a contender. At the end of the day, of the offseason, all I really want is to be wanted, and hopefully it all works out right here.”
Along with Gomes, right-handed starter Brandon McCarthy, also eligible for free agency, is a strong possibility to return. Then there’s Stephen Drew, who holds a steep $10 million mutual option. Drew has voiced that the decision to turn to free agency or remain with Oakland would involve several discussions with his family, and should he choose to seek other options, the A’s could move Cliff Pennington back to shortstop and allow Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore to battle for the second-base job.
“We loved having Stephen here when he was here,” Beane said. “Given that he was a little bit behind the curve given he was coming back from that injury in Arizona, I think it would be intriguing to see what he could do when he comes in fully healthy.”
Outside of McCarthy, a youthful and talented pitching staff figures to remain intact. Moreover, don’t expect to see the drug-suspended Bartolo Colon rejoin the A’s. Beane said he has not been in contact with Colon’s camp and deemed his availability for the postseason, had Oakland advanced to the next round, “unrealistic.”
Elsewhere, the A’s have a 2013 club option to pick up on closer Grant Balfour, and doing so expects to be one of the team’s easier decisions of the offseason.
“He was a critical factor in us winning the division,” Beane said. “I’m not going to officially say anything, but there are some things that are common sense.”
Free agent-to-be Brandon Inge has likely seen his final days in Oakland, despite the leadership he provided with Gomes. There simply won’t be room for the popular veteran, considering the A’s have plenty options at third base in Sizemore and Josh Donaldson.
Everyone else is under club control for 2013, leading Beane to believe “we’re in great shape.”
“The satisfying thing about the crowd’s response to this team last night was that they’re going to get to see this team, by and large, next year,” he said. “I’ve had situations where we’ve had great seasons and I knew the team wouldn’t be back, because of things like guys hitting free agency, but we’d like to try to continue this momentum we have in the winter, and we should be able to build on this next year.”