Think back to the winter meetings, when there wasn’t a trickle of concrete news to report from the A’s camp. I kept getting the same questions from writers and scouts: “What’s going on with the A’s? Are they doing anything?” The meetings finished a little more than two weeks ago, and obviously, that was the calm before the storm. The A’s have been swift to act since then – trading third baseman Brett Wallace for outfielder Michael Taylor, signing outfielder Coco Crisp and bringing back free agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer. Now, speculation is heating up that Oakland is perhaps the front-runner to sign free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, according to ESPN. Here’s a few thoughts on that situation. Feel free to chime in with your own:
—Beltre is a logical fit for the A’s considering their need at third base (you’ve got to operate as if Eric Chavez won’t be available until he proves he can stay in the lineup). I can tell you Beltre has been in the A’s thoughts since the offseason began, but I don’t see them shelling out $10 million per season for him. The above ESPN piece lists the A’s as his only serious suitor right now, but it mentions a good point: If Beltre drops his asking price, other teams are sure to join the pursuit (including the Giants). I expect the A’s and other teams to play the waiting game with Beltre. That paid off for teams last winter, when the price tag dropped on free agents as the season drew closer.
–The A’s obviously aren’t viewing Jake Fox – acquired from the Cubs shortly before the winter meetings – as a full-time third baseman. If they were, Beltre wouldn’t even be a consideration. The A’s like Fox for his hitting ability – they’ll find a spot that suits him in the field. If Beltre is signed, I see Fox possibly playing a lot of first base (though the A’s already have depth there) or logging lots of at-bats at DH.
–What happens if Beltre becomes an Athletic, and – work with me on this one – Chavez puts together a healthy season? Surely the A’s would want to squeeze all they can out of Chavez, who makes $12 million in the final year of a six-year contract. It would make sense for Beltre (a Gold Glover like Chavy) to play third and Chavez to DH simply to ease the burden on Chavez’s back. But then where does Fox fit in? The options would be first base or the outfield, and the A’s are fairly crowded at both spots. GM Billy Beane likes to point out that having too many healthy players hasn’t been a problem for the A’s recently, so maybe injuries will sort out who plays where.
Would you like to see Beltre signed? How would you handle the playing rotation?