As the days go by, it seems to feel more and more unlikely that the A’s will be able to resign Stephen Drew and he’ll move onto greener pastures and his time with the A’s will be nothing but a cameo appearance. There’s no real evidence to support this feeling, it’s simply just a gut instinct. We all know that Drew meshed well with the guys as they made their miraculous run to the AL West title, but that simply isn’t enough these days.
So while it seems like Drew is atop just about everyone’s list of desired shortstops, the A’s may very well have to look elsewhere in order to fill that void in the middle infield. The options range from very intriguing, to downright depressing, and everywhere in between. Most likely the A’s would have to explore the trade market if Drew does decide to head elsewhere, as the rest of the free agent market for players who could man the 6 position on the field is pretty thin.
The free agent class according to the tracker on MLB Trade Rumors lists 8 possible options listed under the SS position; Drew, Jason Bartlett, Alex Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki, Maicer Izturis, Alberto Gonzalez, and Brian Bixler. Ronny Cedeno and Marco Scutaro are listed as 2B primarily, but can also play SS. So there it is, all the options the A’s could pursue without having to perhaps give up one of their prized young starters. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Bartlett, both unrelated Gonzalez’s, both Izturis brothers, Kawasaki, Bixler, and Cedeno can immediately be scratched off the list as they are non-impact players and would represent a major step backward from the incumbents from 2012. That leaves two options, Stephen Drew and Marco Scutaro.
Drew as we’ve detailed is the prime target, but is far from a guarantee to come to terms with the A’s. Scutaro on the other hand is a somewhat interesting option, the A’s had tried to acquire him during the season before the Giants grabbed him from the Rockies. Of course Scutaro caught fire and helped lead the Giants to their 2nd World Series Championship in the last 3 years, and is now as revered in San Francisco as he once was in Oakland. I expect Scutaro to be rewarded by the Giants, much like Aubrey Huff was a couple years ago for his contributions, he’ll be a Giant in 2013, I’m almost certain of that. So the only true free agent option for the A’s is Drew himself.
As we look at the potential trade market, there appears to be a few more intriguing options to look at. The top target would have to be Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians. Perhaps his time in Cleveland is short with the acquisition of Mike Aviles as a stopgap until Francisco Lindor is ready for the show. Cabrera would take a fairly talented package to acquire, but he could definitely hold down the position in Oakland for years to come.
If the A’s are able to swing a mutually beneficial deal within the division, Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers could undoubtedly be had. The Rangers have one of the best prospects in the game in the person of Jurickson Profar, and he made his MLB debut last year and may very well be ready to take over the everyday duties at short. The Rangers are possibly short on pitching unless they make a few free agent moves, so the notion of adding a young controllable starter to their fold could convince them to move Andrus within the division.
There is another option that the A’s also were said to have explored acquiring during the season, Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar. Questions about his work ethic and character played a large role in the Athletics unwillingness to empty the cupboard for him during the season, and if his homophobic eye black incident is any indication, those questions are far from being resolved. I doubt he’d be coming to Oakland unless every other option has been exhausted and the team is desperate, even so I might prefer to take my chances everyday with Adam Rosales at shortstop.
If it feels like we’re rehashing the same options that came up around trade deadline time, it’s because we are. With that said, I’ll move onto Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Oakland native supposedly does not want to leave Philly, but perhaps the rejuvenation of the Athletics could help sway him. He is owed a lot of money though, so perhaps the Phillies would send a large amount of cash to the A’s to make the deal work.
Perhaps the most intriguing high risk/high reward target could be Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs. He appears to have all the talent in the world, but there seems to be some question about his attitude. That said, it would be pretty difficult for just about any player to play for the 100 loss Cubs right now. Perhaps in the manner in which the move from Miami to Los Angeles ignited the fire inside Hanley Ramirez, perhaps a move from Chicago to Oakland could do the same for Castro. He wouldn’t come cheap though, so the question would be whether or not Billy Beane would be willing to meet Theo Epstein’s asking price for his starting shortstop.
There are other possible trade candidates as well, perhaps Beane and Lew Wolff completely lose their minds and work a deal to take Jose Reyes off the Marlins’ hands. Perhaps Beane decides he’s willing to empty the entire farm system and makes an offer nobody can refuse and acquires Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies (Despite his injuries, I’d probably die from happiness if he became an Athletic). With Billy Beane, you never really know what he’ll do, so nothing is impossible.
It’s safe to say some sort of transaction will be on the horizon, there’s no telling what it will be, but the success of that transaction will play a huge role in the success of the 2013 Oakland Athletics.