As I’m sure everyone still plugged into the A’s has heard by now, CF Chris Young formerly of the Arizona Diamondbacks is the newest member of the Oakland Athletics, all this happening before this year’s World Series even gets under way. Needless to say this was quite a shocking turn of events, as I can’t remember a deal of this significance going down before the true offseason begins. In acquiring Young, the A’s sent SS/2B Cliff Pennington and minor league infielder Yordy Cabrera to the desert (Cabrera was immediately spun to Miami for Heath Bell). The ramifications of this deal may ultimately be felt throughout the entire A’s roster.
Billy Beane held a conference call this afternoon to address the deal and a few other things as well. Initially he noted that there were no plans to move any of the incumbent A’s outfielders to clear playing time for Young. The thought would’ve been that Coco Crisp’s days in Oakland might be over as he and Young share the same position. But Billy made sure to mention Crisp’s importance to the team.
So where does Chris Young fit in then?
It looks as if he might find himself in a very similar role to what Seth Smith did in 2012, serving as a fill in outfielder and finding time at the DH spot as well. This of course assumes Billy Beane sticks to his statement that he will not be moving any of the current OF crop. Anyone who’s followed this team over the years should know to always expect the unexpected from Billy Beane, and this very deal is indicative of that fact.
For me personally the toughest aspect of this deal is the fact that Jonny Gomes’ return to Oakland now looks rather unlikely. If Young platoons with Smith as the 4th OF/DH for the A’s, there really won’t be a spot for Gomes in the lineup. Not only did Gomes put up solid numbers in his limited role with the A’s, he served as a great veteran presence with the team. It has appeared that Beane and Bob Melvin were aware of that and sought to bring Gomes back because of that, but now that is very much in doubt. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m a fellow native Petaluman and I would really hate to see Jonny go elsewhere. But if he does, I know he’ll contribute like he did with the A’s.
Beane also mentioned the impact on the infield situation for the A’s, he said that Scott Sizemore will shift back to second base in 2013 from the third base position he occupied in 2011 for the A’s. At this point, barring the acquisition of another second baseman I would expect Sizemore and Jemile Weeks to be the frontrunners for the starting job. It also seems to open the door a little wider for the return of Stephen Drew to the A’s next year and perhaps beyond. The $10 Million mutual option looms large, and it seems unlikely that the A’s would pick that option up considering their frugal ways. The possibility of working out a more long term deal remains, and the departure of Pennington creates a wide open spot for Drew to settle in to. If Drew does indeed depart, expect another trade of some sort to acquire a more controllable shortstop.
It does seem that Lew Wolff and co. are more willing to open up the checkbook to continue this team’s success, which is quite a refreshing bit of news. Chris Young will make $8 Million in 2013, which is about $7 Million more than Jonny Gomes made in 2012, whom Young will essentially replace. Either way it’s good to see that the Athletics front office is not content to just sit back on their accomplishments and hope to ride them for another year.
Chris Young is a dynamic player, he has good power, speed, solid defense and a pretty good arm as well. If he’s an expensive 4th OF then he’ll at least be as good as you can find. If he’s more than that he’ll hopefully enable the A’s to address one of their other needs during the offseason.
Quite the exciting start to the offseason for the A’s, and it really hasn’t even begun yet.