By Joe Stiglich
Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 3:45 pm in 2011 regular season.
The rumor mill is cranking up regarding the Texas Rangers’ interest in A’s closer Andrew Bailey. Brady Tinker of the Dallas-based DFW Sports Beat mentions Bailey specifically as someone the Rangers are pursuing, while Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that Texas is engaged in talks with the A’s about relievers, without mentioning a specific name.
I have heard nothing to suggest a Bailey-to-Texas deal is in the works, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the A’s would trade him. There’s two ways to look at this decision. On one hand, Bailey is a two-time All-Star who is still affordable and under team control through 2014 (he is arbitration-eligible after this season, but won’t reach free agency until after the ’14 season). The A’s have incentive to hold on to this guy and feel secure about the ninth inning for the next three seasons. But I’d also argue that Bailey’s presence is not going to make or break the A’s chances to be a contender in 2012. This team will need offensive upgrades (let’s assume Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui and other veterans won’t be back) to be ready to challenge for the division title. Acquiring (or grooming) capable closers has been an easier task for the A’s than landing impact hitters . A young, affordable and proven closer such as Bailey is attractive to Texas for obvious reasons, and Bailey could fetch a lot in a deal. Or at least the A’s should demand a lot and see if the Rangers bite.
What would the A’s want in return? This is purely speculation, but I could see them targeting shortstop Jurickson Profar. He’s just 18, playing for low Single-A Hickory (N.C.), so he’s not close to big league-ready. But the A’s need a long-term answer at shortstop (that’s evident by the Grant Green-in-center field experiment), and Profar is ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers’ No. 2 prospect. I’m told Texas isn’t eager to part with him, but that’s the caliber of player the A’s should want as the centerpiece of such a package.
A’s general manager Billy Beane says he doesn’t feel the need to make any trades by Sunday’s deadline. That may be true, but it doesn’t mean he won’t pull the trigger if he gets the right offer. Again, all speculation on my part, but interesting to ponder …