In trading Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija this off-season, the A’s have made it very clear that they are going younger in 2015. And, as a byproduct, they are seeing their payroll obligations much reduced.
But they A’s were willing to chase at least one expensive free agent, Padres’ third baseman Chase Headley, this time around. I wrote about the possibility when the Donaldson trade went down. And when the third baseman signed a four-year $52-million deal Monday with the Yankees, Ken Rosenthal of Fox confirmed via Twitter that Oakland had indeed made a competitive offer for Headley early on.
While no one now will get from the A’s as much as they were willing to offer Headley, the A’s still have money to spend in free agency.
But despite the rumors that persist on the internet, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang will not be one on the Oakland shopping list. Kang was posted Monday, but at the winter meetings, A’s general manager Billy Beane made it clear the A’s were not interested.
Oakland’s post-season moves have left them with between $15-17 million to spend on free agents after the moves they’ve made – and they were apparently willing to spend most of that to have Headley solidify the infield.
The A’s spent about $83 million in salaries last year and have the ability to spend about that much again, although the roster as currently set up will probably only cost something in the area of $60-65 million once their salary arbitration cases are behind them.
True, Headley and Brett Lawrie, acquired from Toronto in the Donaldson deal on Nov. 28, play the same position, third base. But Lawrie spent about one-third of his games at second base with the Blue Jays last year and Oakland was comfortable that he could play there full time if Headley had come their way to play third base.
Three-quarters of the A’s infield from 2014 is gone with third baseman Donaldson and first baseman Moss being joined Monday by shortstop Jed Lowrie, who signed a three-year, $23 million deal with an option with Houston, the team that sent Lowrie to Oakland two winters ago in the Chris Carter trade.
It was no real surprise that Lowrie wound up with Houston, which is throwing around some money in an attempt to be competitive once again in the American League West. He and his family liked the Houston area, and they’d just bought a house there when the deal sending him to the A’s came down in February of 2013.
They’ve continue to own the home and now they’ll get to live in it full-time.
So the A’s new infield includes just one holdover (for the moment) in second baseman Eric Sogard. Ike Davis, who came from the Pirates, and Lawrie play the corners and Marcus Semien, who came from the White Sox in the Samardzija deal, gets the chance to prove he’s ready to be a big league shortstop.
And while Headley is off the market, the A’s still have that $15-17 million available to pursue help in free agency between now and spring training. Just not Kang.