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A’s: Second base upgrades in short supply

Before Friday’s game with the Rangers, A’s manager Bob Melvin said he didn’t see Oakland in a position where it had to trade for a second baseman for the stretch run.

Having acquired starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on July 4, Melvin said, was good enough and the club could make do with at second. Eric Sogard has picked this week to up his game a little, and Alberto Callaspo is due off DL Sunday.

And that may be just as well, because the pool of available candidates seems to be evaporating. Six weeks ago, it seemed a sure bet the Rays would trade Ben Zobrist. Then Tampa went on a surge.

The Rays are still under .500, but they have put plans to put Zobrist and their prime bargaining chip, lefty starter David Price, on hold until at least Tuesday, at which point they will decided to play for now or trade for the future.

It’s similar in Cleveland, where Jason Kipnis might have been available. The Indians came into Friday at just .500, but that was good enough to be only 2½ games out in the wild card race, and those in the know tell me Kipnis isn’t being dealt.

The Phillies’ Chase Utley is, unlike the first two, available. He would come at such a price, however, that it’s impossible to see the A’s getting him. His two-year, $27 million contract runs through next year. But if he stays healthy, there are clauses in it that could add three more years and another $50 million to it.

The Diamondbacks could let the A’s pick from 30-year-old utility man Martin Prado, who has played plenty of second base, or from their regular second baseman, 32-year-old Aaron Hill. Neither is having a monster year, but either would have to be considered.

Nick Franklin is probably available to the right purchaser, but it’s hard to see his .128 average this year as an enticement to Oakland. And if he were wanted by the A’s, with the Mariners having to play the A’s another six times en route to what Seattle would like to hope is a wild card spot, why would general manager Jack Zduriencik want to do anything to make Oakland a tougher foe six more times?

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.