The trade deadline has passed, and if you spent the first half of your day glued to the MLB Network (or your laptop) hoping to see the A’s swing a big trade, you ended up disappointed. The A’s stood pat as the 1 p.m. deadline passed, meaning their only acquisition during the peak of trade season was part-time catcher George Kottaras (this is assuming there’s no post-deadline announcement of a deal). Are you surprised? Did you expect this? We know the A’s were trying to acquire left side-of-the-infield help, and GM Billy Beane was outspoken in saying he wanted to improve the team offensively. Surely, he and his staff took into account this prolonged hot streak the team is riding, and weighed whether it was worth messing with a good thing. But I’ve got to think the bigger road block to a deal was the A’s unwillingness to part with the top-tier prospects that other teams would have wanted (think Triple-A pitcher Dan Straily, a player the A’s did not want to move). They spent an entire offseason making trades to upgrade their depleted farm system and build toward the future. They weren’t going to be quick to make a trade that significantly hindered that process.
But there’s lots of room for argument here, and if Oakland falters down the stretch, people can justifiably point to the A’s not making an agressive move in July to improve the club. They have quite the reservoir of young pitching depth to deal from, and teams were after that pitching. They could have pulled the trigger on a deal, looking to strike more magic during this most unlikely of seasons. You also can’t ignore the improvements that A.L. West rivals Texas and Los Angeles made. The Angels added Zack Greinke to their rotation while the Rangers swung a last-minute deal to grab starter Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs. Both are signifcant upgrades for the two teams the A’s are battling for the division championship, and perhaps that should have spurred the A’s to add somebody … anybody.
Here’s what we saw today in the A.L. West. … The Rangers have gone to the World Series two straight years and lost. Nothing short of a Series championship will be considered a success this season. The Angels spent a boatload of money in the offseason to land Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. They too are under intense pressure to win this season, and standing pat simply was not an option. I think Beane and Co. believe they’re playing with house money this season. If the current team continues this amazing roll, fantastic. If it falters, it’s been a pretty great ride just to get to this point, and the plan to build for the future remains intact with a young core of stud pitchers and a hitter to build around in Yoenis Cespedes. Will this leave many fans ticked for not making a trade? You bet. I’m not justifying today’s non-action, I’m just stating the rationale that I think was employed (no one from the team has spoken publicly yet).
A couple things to keep in mind: The A’s can still swing a trade throughout August, though it’s more complicated because players must clear waivers first before they can be dealt. Secondly, although most of the focus was on the A’s adding a hitter, I think it’s just as possible the A’s will look to add veteran pitching reinforcements, whether it’s the rotation or the bullpen. And that will especially be true if the trio of Brett Anderson/Dallas Braden/Brandon McCarthy hit road blocks in their comebacks.
All just food for thought …