Oakland A's Holiday Shopping List

July 17, 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America - 17 July 2010: Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman.

Is Lance Berkman on the A's radar? (Photo Courtesy of yardbarker.com)

It’s holiday season! The Oakland A’s, who finished behind the Texas Rangers in the American League West with an 81-81 record, should be relatively busy this holiday season as they try to upgrade their offense.

This season, the A’s ranked 23rd in runs (663), 17th in average (.256), 16th in OBP (.324), 26th in SLG (.378), and 21st in OPS (.702). The team hit 109 home runs (28th), and had just one player with more than 15 home runs. 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff had 16 for the year. The A’s offensively, did not pack much of a punch.

It goes without saying then, that the A’s have a lot of shopping to do this winter. Now, the A’s could address their offensive woes through trade as well, but remember they’ve got a little money to spend this winter. It would be a shame to let money go to waste.

The A’s made headlines when they won the negotiating rights to Japanese pitcher, Hisashi Iwakuma for a hefty price of about $18-19 million. Pitching should be a strength for the A’s next season, but adding a pitcher like Iwakuma could really solidify an already solid starting rotation.

Unfortunately, however, the A’s and Iwakuma are currently at odds with each other. The A’s reportedly offered Iwakuma a deal worth about $15 million over four years, but Iwakuma’s agent is (reportedly) pushing for a Barry Zito-type deal, but without all those years attached to it. Zito signed with the Giants for a $126 million contract over seven years.

So for now, it seems unlikely that the A’s will be able to land Iwakuma. If so, the A’s would get their $18-19 posting fee returned, and they could use the money to address their offensive situation.

The A’s have had a relatively busy offseason thus far, but guys like OF David DeJesus and 3B Edwin Encarnacion hardly seem like impact additions that can take the team to next level. An ‘A’ for effort, Billy Beane, but there’s still much more to do.

The A’s need power. That’s obvious. How they’ll obtain it, however, is less obvious. The A’s are not on most free agents’ preferred destinations list, so it makes it a little difficult to sway a player to come to Oakland, and the almost ghostly Coliseum.

The A’s have reportedly made an attempt to try and sign free agent 3B Adrian Beltre, who was on the A’s radar last offseason. The offer of $64 million over five years have been neither confirmed nor denied. If it is true, Beltre’s agent, Scott Boras, will probably not accept it. According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Boras claims that he’s never had this much interest in a player (talking about Beltre).

Aside from Belte, here are a few other players who could help the A’s out next season, if they should find their way to Oakland (not in any particular order): 

  • Adam Dunn, 31: Dunn, who hit .260/.356/.536 with 38 home runs and 103 RBIs this season with the Nationals is likely to be on a lot of teams’ radar this offseason, but he would do wonders for the A’s as a primary DH. According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Dunn is “ready to be a DH.” The A’s are in dire need of a productive DH, as the team went through Eric Chavez, Jake Fox and Jack Cust this year. Cust could be finished with Oakland, as his power numbers dipped this year. And without power, Cust has really nothing else to offer. Dunn would fit in well with the A’s. Will he land in Oakland? Probably not, but he’s worth a shot.
  • Lance Berkman, 34:  Berkman, who turns 35 next year in February, hit .248/.368/.413 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs. His numbers may have taken yet another dip this year, but Berkman could fit in well as a DH for Oakland. Berkman has expressed some interest in joining Oakland, but has also noted that he’s not ready to be a DH. If the A’s were to acquire Berkman, he would be the team’s primary DH, as Daric Barton has solidified himself as the team’s starting first-baseman. Could he land in Oakland? There’s a possibility.
  • Brandon McCarthy, 27: I know it’s been noted above that the A’s really don’t need much help with their pitching, but if they do end up falling short of signing Iwakuma, McCarthy could be an option. According to MLBTradeRumors.com, the A’s might be a likely candidate to sign McCarthy. But like I said, the A’s have plenty of pitching, and if they do fall short of Iwakuma, the team could easily hand over the fifth spot to a guy like Josh Outman.
  • Jayson Werth, 31: This might be a little bit of a stretch, but Werth would give the A’s some much need power, and could play RF for Oakland. Werth hit .296/.388/.532 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs, and if you compare his numbers to any member of Oakland’s OF this year, you’ll clearly see that Werth would do wonders for Oakland’s offense. Not one, yes you read right, not one member of the A’s OF hit at least 10 home runs this year. That to me, is a bit embarrassing. The only one who comes close to 10 is Coco Crisp, who had 8 on the year.  Werth would be an immediate upgrade, but the A’s do have a bit of a crunch with their outfield situation. Plus, highly-regarded youngster Chris Carter needs a place to play too. So count this one as unlikely.
  • Carl Crawford, 29: Perhaps the most sought after free agent this winter is Crawford, who at 29 years of age, is a multi-talented OF. Crawford has it all: speed, power, and everything else you’d want in your superstar player. This year, Crawford managed to swipe 47 bases, and hit .307/.356/.495 with 19 home runs and 90 RBIs with Tampa Bay. Obviously he’s going to be out of the A’s price range, but boy wouldn’t it be something if all the planets aligned and we see this guy in green-and-gold come April?
  • Matt Kemp, 26: Kemp loves it in L.A., but could the A’s make a serious offer to the Dodgers for Kemp? The A’s have plenty of pitching, and could use it to put together some sort of package deal in exchange for Kemp. Kemp had a down year this season, but at 26 years of age, he should bounce back just fine in 2011. Kemp hit .249/.310/.450 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs, and would be an instant upgrade in Oakland’s crowded outfield crop. I wonder if Billy Beane is still kicking himself for dealing OF Andre Either to the Dodgers in exchange for Milton Bradley…
  • Anyone with offense: The A’s need power. It’s that simple. Whether they address that through free agency or trade, the team will not go anywhere next year without an upgraded offense. Pitching will only carry them so far. It’s true that pitching wins championships, but you have to have some kind of offensive production. The A’s have a talented young rotation that includes Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez, but they need an offense that can take some of the pressure off the rotation. The A’s have young prospects like Michael Taylor, Adrian Cardenas, Jemile Weeks among others, but until they arrive, the team needs to do something now about their offensive situation.

If you could sign one player for the A’s, who would it be? Sound off below in the comments section!

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