The A’s on Wednesday strengthened their catching staff by acquiring backstop John Jaso from the Mariners in a three-team deal that resulted in them also returning pitching prospect A.J. Cole to the Nationals.
The A’s added in Minor League right-hander Blake Treinen and a player to be named later in the package to Washington, who gave up outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse to Seattle.
To clear room on the 40-man roster for Jaso, the A’s chose to designate George Kottaras for assignment just one day after agreeing to terms with him on a one-year deal worth $1 million to avoid arbitration.
Jaso, who carries with him a productive left-handed bat, is a prime platoon candidate next to new teammate Derek Norris, given his eye-opening splits. He posted a .927 OPS against right-handers last year, compared to .393 vs. lefties.
Overall, the 29-year-old Jaso brings with him a likable offensive profile, having hit .276 with a .394 on-base percentage to go along with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs in 108 games for the Mariners last year.
Cole, just 21, was highly regarded by the A’s, who landed the righty from the Nationals in the Gio Gonzalez deal last winter. But he struggled greatly at Class-A Stockton in 2012, going 0-7 with a 7.82 ERA, before being demoted to Burlington, where he was 6-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 19 starts.
A’s players Seth Smith, Jerry Blevins and Brandon Moss were among 133 Major Leaguers who officially filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday.
Each player will exchange figures with the A’s on Friday, and arbitration hearings are scheduled from Feb. 4-20, if necessary. Teams and players can negotiate on a contract all the way up to their hearing date, however, and most often a court session is avoided.
Smith will take home the largest paycheck of the trio, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting his 2013 salary to fall around the $3.3 million mark, after he earned $2,415,000 last year.
This marks the second year in which Smith is arbitration-eligible. Embarking on his fifth full season in the Majors, Smith hit .240 with 14 home runs and 52 RBIs in 125 games — mainly split between left field and designated hitter — last year for the A’s, who plan to use him mostly at the latter position this season.
Blevins, embarking on his first arbitration experience, made $490,000 in 2012 while enjoying a standout season, going 5-1 with a career-best 2.48 ERA and a .201 opponents’ batting average in 63 relief appearances. These numbers suggest the lefty, entering his seventh season with the A’s, will likely make at least $1 million in 2013.
Moss, meanwhile, is projected to earn around $1.4 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The left-handed hitter spent parts of five seasons in the Majors with three different teams before enjoying a breakthrough season in 2012 with Oakland, for whom he hit .291 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs in just 84 games.
Remember when A’s FanFest took a three-year haitus? That wasn’t too long ago, but surely times have changed with Tuesday’s news that the A’s have already sold out all 10,000 tickets they put on sale for the Jan. 27 event just last Friday. Pretty impressive.
For fans attending, here’s a complete list of those expected to be on hand:
Manager Bob Melvin and his coaching staff, Yoenis Céspedes, Ryan Cook, Coco Crisp, Sean Doolittle, Josh Donaldson, Grant Green, A.J. Griffin, George Kottaras, Tommy Milone, Hiroyuki Nakajima, Pat Neshek, Derek Norris, Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick, Adam Rosales, Evan Scribner, Scott Sizemore, Seth Smith, Eric Sogard, Dan Straily, Chris Young
Furthermore, with 2013 representing the 40-year anniversary of the 1973 World Series championship, the A’s have announced an in-season celebration of this historic accomplishment April 27 vs. Baltimore, when 10,000 fans will receive a Reggie Jackson bobblehead. FanFest will initiate those festivities by featuring some of the icons from 1973, including appearances by 1973 team members Sal Bando, Bill North and Ray Fosse.
Embarking on his 16th season in his current role as A’s general manager, Billy Beane has tackled countless decisions in his time at the helm, some more difficult than others. This one was a no-brainer.
Beane showcased a hefty nod of support in his manager on Monday, awarding Bob Melvin a two-year contract extension through the 2016 season — even though Melvin was already locked up through 2014.
“This was probably the simplest negotiation I’ve ever had in my career here,” Beane said. “This is something I initiated. I approached Bob with it, and Bob was interested. It really is a reflection on our commitment to Bob and Bob’s commitment to us as much as anything. If you know you have the right guy, there’s no sense in waiting until he has one year left.”
The 51-year-old Melvin, regarded with much respect from his players, led them to a 94-68 showing — marking a 20-game improvement from 2011 — and AL West title, claimed on the final day of the season against the Rangers to erase a deficit of five games with nine to play. The playoff berth was the A’s first since 2006, despite expectations of a 100-loss season going into the year.
Melvin’s role in a stunning season that featured 14 walk-off victories, which ultimately concluded with a Game 5 loss to the Tigers in the AL Division Series, did not go unnoticed, as he was named AL Manager of the Year, just five years after taking home the award in the National League.
It was Melvin’s first full year at the helm in Oakland, as he was named interim manager following the dismissal of Bob Geren on June 9, 2011 — a label he shed when he signed a three-year contract on Sept. 21 of that year.
“We knew we had the right guy from the get-go,” Beane said. “I think the continuity is important, and just as important is it’s what was deserved.”
It’s no coincidence, then, that Melvin’s new contract aligns with Beane’s. The A’s general manager is signed through 2015, with options that could extend his services to 2019. His assistant general manager, David Forst, is under contract through 2016.
“We all see ourselves in sync together,” Beane said, “and it seemed fitting that we should parallel the same tracks we have.”
Melvin, a Bay Area native who’s compiled a career 634-628 managerial record, couldn’t be more appreciative of the gesture.
“From the minute that I got here, I’ve not only felt welcomed by Billy and the front office staff but by the players and the clubhouse personnel and the training staff and the fans,” Melvin said. “Everything has been so fluid here. You get an extension from the people that you respect and admire and show so much support in you, it really makes you feel good and better about doing your job.”
Melvin’s wasn’t an easy one last year, not after an offseason that led to the trades of three All-Star pitchers and brought about an influx of young players and castoffs. Yet he managed them all with ease, seemingly pulling all the right triggers in a roller coaster of a season that included a nine-game losing streak and subsequent 72-38 record after June 1, tops in the Majors.
All the while, Melvin supported an all-rookie starting rotation at points — rookies started 101 games — and crafted more than 130 different lineups that featured as many as five platoons at a time, with several players playing out of their usual position to accommodate the team’s needs. By season’s end, a catcher (Josh Donaldson) was playing third base, an outfielder (Brandon Moss) was manning first and a shortstop (Cliff Pennington) had taken over second-base duties.
“Bob’s an outstanding leader,” Beane said. “He has the unique ability to be both a great leader and someone who’s well likes, which is a fine line that guys in his position have to walk. I really think Bob is a great representation of a modern-day manager.
“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions in that chair and people aren’t always going to like them. But, at the end of the day, when they walk out of your office and still respect you and like you, that says a lot.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It would seem that two meetings in as many days between A’s general manager Billy Beane and super agent Scott Boras in the confines of the Winter Meetings would be significant.
Maybe so, if they hadn’t occurred at the gym.
Boras, who represents free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, was simply “dodging medicine balls” in his run-ins with Beane, who assured that the pair would engage in a formal meeting by the time he leaves Nashville on Thursday morning.
That means Drew is still on Oakland’s radar. Yet several other clubs can say the same about the infielder, who is primed for a generous deal, much thanks to the slim shortstop market that houses him.
Boras deemed the market for Drew “ever-growing” and said, “I think he’s looked at as the shortstop in this market, so there are a number of clubs that have looked at him both for their current needs and for teams that may be making trades as well.”
The A’s are expected to depart the Winter Meetings without a peep, transferring their work back to Oakland having not made a deal. However, free-agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is believed to still be in the mix, as are other options.
“We’ve explored some trade possibilities and opted not to pursue some of those, and there are still some available to us,” Beane said. “We’re still dealing with several different options and, to be honest, with no sense of urgency.”
Such remarks allude to Yunel Escobar, who was taken off the board Tuesday, seemingly even before he was traded to the Rays.
A handful of Minor League signings by the A’s have mostly gone unnoticed this winter. Here’s a list of them:
RHPs Mike Ekstrom, Kyler Newby; LHPs Justin Thomas, Garrett Olson; C Luke Montz; INFs Scott Moore, Darwin Perez
There will likely be plenty more additions before the start of camp, and it’s worth keeping an eye on each of them. After all, it was only last winter the A’s signed Brandon Moss to a Minor League deal.
NASHVILLE, TENN. — According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, A’s officials are slated to meet with the agent for free-agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima in Nashville today. It’s an intriguing option for the A’s, who are among several teams scouring a shallow shortstop market — most of which boast bigger payrolls than Oakland, ones that could help land Stephen Drew. The A’s are not out on Drew, but let’s take a look at the lesser known Nakajima:
The 30-year-old shortstop was in negotiations with the Yankees last winter, after New York won posting rights to him. But the Yankees failed to sign Nakajima, who wasn’t so much interested in salary figures as he was playing time, which wasn’t offered to him on an everyday basis — factors that figure to be in play this time around, too. The A’s are likely willing to promise him just that, with utility infielders Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino their only other in-house options at this point.
Nakajima enjoyed a successful 2012 campaign with the Seibu Lions in Japan, where he finished with a line of.311/.382/.451, to go along with 13 home runs. Since 2007, the infielder has averaged 20.5 homers per 162 games, along with a .310 average and .381 on-base percentage. Furthermore, he boasts above-average defensive skills.
Nakajima, who represented Japan at the 2008 Olympics and in the ’09 World Baseball Classic, already met with D-backs officials — also shopping for infield help on the left side — in Arizona in November, though a deal was reportedly never on the table. The D-backs, however, are believed to still be interested in him.
The A’s, meanwhile, figure to be keeping all of their options open, particularly since they’re in no hurry to make a move, and that includes both the free-agent and trade markets.
NASHVILLE — Oakland’s shopping list was of no mystery heading into the Winter Meetings, yet how the club may go about obtaining its contents was.
A’s general manager Billy Beane, speaking from his suite at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Resort on Day 1 of the four-day event, shed some light on the matter Monday, making it clear his top options at shortstop, which remains the team’s most dire and only true need. Their current in-house options are Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino, and Beane has no intentions of adding prospects Grant Green or Addison Russell to that mix.
Stephen Drew, with whom the A’s familiarized themselves well down the stretch, and Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima are the two free agent shortstops the team is considering at the moment. On the trade front, rumblings of the Marlins nearing a deal involving shortstop Yunel Escobar emerged, and the A’s could very well be in the mix.
MLB.com learned Beane met with Marlins officials on Monday, though it’s unclear whether he did so to discuss Escobar, who is only owed $5 million in 2013. The 30-year-old is equipped with plenty defensive talent and has a likeable .353 career on-base percentage, factors that make him an attractive option despite his checkered past, which includes an incident involving a homophobic slur written on his eye black.
But should the Marlins turn to a trade partner not named the A’s when dealing Escobar, believed to be on his way out of Florida by week’s end, Oakland will feel no added urgency to move on other options.
“I think we’re in a pretty good place to sit back and wait,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I know we’re really not market makers, at least in the free agent market, that we’ll sit back and see where the market’s going and then kind of pick and choose. There are some places we’re looking to upgrade, but we’re not in a rush to make a deal we’re not ready to make.”
Drew, whose $10 million mutual option was declined by the A’s, will surely garner significant interest from multiple clubs, given the weak shortstop crowd filling an uninspiring free agent market. That may leave him out of the A’s price range, but that doesn’t mean Oakland won’t try for him, and Beane was set to meet with his agent, Scott Boras, “sooner than later” this week.
As for the 30-year-old Nakajima, who was posted last year but ultimately didn’t sign with the Yankees, Melvin acknowledged that the club knows “quite a bit about him” and have engaged in talks about the free agent, whom he said “looks like a hitter.”
The free-agent route may very well be the way to go for the A’s, who are not willing to part with any of their starting pitchers — a declaration that could rule out a trade with the Indians that would send shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to Oakland.
The pitching-heavy A’s appear to be more than set with arms, despite the club’s desire to bring back right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who is expected to garner more money elsewhere.
“There’s been contact,” Beane said. “There’s still a lot of the winter left, but I wouldn’t say something’s imminent. I would speculate, given his talents and the lack of starting pitching out there, that he’s going to be attractive to quite a few teams.”
“I think that door is always open until it’s closed,” Melvin added. “We’ll probably sit back and see what kind of offers he gets and whether or not we’re able to afford him, what the guaranteed money is, what the incentives are in his deal, which I’m sure will be somewhat incentive-laden. But that door is not closed.”
Beane has often left the Winter Meetings having not pulled the trigger on a single move, instead laying the foundation for deals in the weeks ahead. That could very well be the case this year, too, with an additional two months still to be had in the offseason.
“I don’t think these meetings create any sense of urgency from our standpoint, because we still think there are quite a few potential options out there, whether it be trade or free agent or in-house,” he said. “[Shortstop] is a critical position, and for us we have a chance to significantly improve your club if you get the right guy. We had a few guys in and out of the position last year, so if you get the right guy, it’s an area you can make a big jump on your club.”
A’s players, who together form one of baseball’s lowest payrolls, have voted to donate one playoff share — a total of $34,325.16 – to various charities. The donation will be split between the MLB Players Trust, UMPS CARE, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, Oakland A’s Community Fund, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area, United Way of the Bay Area, Donnie Moore Ministries and Craig Breslow’s Strike 3 Foundation.
In a release, A’s player rep Jerry Blevins said, “During the playoff share meetings, we decided as a team that we wanted to give back to the community by donating one full share to various charities that are near and dear to our hearts.”
On the final day for clubs to set their 40-man roster, the A’s on Tuesday added four players and subtracted three in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft.
By selecting infielder Grant Green, outfielder Shane Peterson and right-hander Arnold Leon from Triple-A Sacramento and right-hander Michael Ynoa from Class-A Vermont, the A’s have protected them from the Rule 5 Draft, to be held Dec. 6 at the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
To make room on the roster for these four prospects, Oakland elected to outright righty reliever Andrew Carignan to Sacramento and designate right-hander Jim Miller and infielder Brandon Hicks for assignment.
Those who signed after age 18 and have been in the Minors for four years, or those who signed at 18 or younger and have been in the Minors for five years, are eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 Draft. Among notable players in the A’s organization left unprotected are third baseman Stephen Parker and right-hander James Simmons.
The 25-year-old Green, the A’s top Draft pick in 2009, could finally be in position to grab hold of an Opening Day roster spot, either as a shortstop — his natural position — or as a utility player, given his versatility in the infield and outfield.
Green hit .296 with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs at Triple-A this year and followed up that performance with a .273 average in 17 games for Phoenix in the Arizona Fall League, collecting two homers, 11 RBIs and 10 walks along the way. In three Minor League seasons, Green has compiled a career .302 average.
Ynoa, though only at the Class-A level, is one of the highest regarded prospects in the A’s organization, having signed with them out of the Dominican Republic in 2008 via a then-record $4.25 million bonus at age 16 — an investment the A’s likely couldn’t afford to lose, despite his slow progression.
Since signing, the 6-foot-7 Ynoa, now 21, has missed significant time because of elbow injuries, which led to Tommy John surgery. He missed all of 2011 but rebounded in 2012 to tally 30 2/3 innings, posting a 6.46 ERA.
Leon, meanwhile, combined for a 4-1 record and 2.70 ERA in 44 relief appearances with Class-A Stockton, Double-A Midland and Sacramento, fanning 74 in 66 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old righty, who has also undergone Tommy John surgery, is currently pitching for his hometown Culiacan in the Mexican Winter League and is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in 12 relief appearances.
Peterson was limited to 86 games this year because of an early-season ankle injury, but he managed to bat .326 with a .480 on-base percentage and .510 slugging mark when healthy. Originally a second-round pick of the Cardinals in 2008, the 24-year-old Peterson was traded to the A’s with Clayton Mortensen and Brett Wallace for Matt Holliday in July 2009.
Their roster at 39 at day’s start, the A’s had a difficult decision to make in designating Miller, who enjoyed four impressive stints with Oakland in 2012, gathering a 2.59 ERA and .217 opponents’ average in 33 appearances.
Then there’s Hicks, who was clutch in a handful of key moments for the A’s but struggled to produce consistently. Overall, he hit .172 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 22 games spanning two stints with the A’s, after being claimed off waivers by the Braves in March.