The A’s are in the midst of what baseball experts term “the window”. “The window” can be defined in simple terms as a team that has a playoff caliber roster for a few seasons. GM Billy Beane and owner Lew Wolff have both mentioned to various media outlets that they believe the A’s are playoff-caliber for at least another two to three seasons. This last season saw a few minor roster changes that led to more success than in 2012. Next season however, will see some changes in the roster that have the potential to turn into impact components of the A’s rosters (at least impact to the A’s).
The list of potential departures for the A’s is longer than usual. Grant Balfour is a free agent, Bartolo Colon is a free agent, Chris Young has an option that will not be picked up thus making him a free agent, Kurt Suzuki has an option that will not be picked up, Seth Smith may be non-tendered thus making him a free agent, Daric Barton may be non-tendered thus making him a free agent, the same goes with Pat Neshek, and there is still no official word the A’s will exercise Brett Anderson’s option.
Broken down more simply; both parts of the designated hitter platoon, a back up catcher, a back up first baseman, two relievers including the closer, and two starting pitchers including the de facto Ace of the staff. In total that is eight players out of the 25-man roster or 32%. That is a lot of roster potentially moving on for a team that has made the playoffs two years in a row and is looking to make it a third next season.
What does this all mean for the A’s? With the core of the team still in tact this gives A’s GM Billy Beane flexibility. These are the types of situations where Beane shows off his creativity and genius. Even if the A’s retain Anderson and resign Colon that still leaves six other roster spots to fill in either in house, via trade, or via free agency. The free agent market always seems limited to most experts, but the A’s rarely miss on the under the radar signings.
With the CBA’s different rules around spending, revenue, trades, etc. teams are beginning to lock up their younger players earlier on in their contracts (i.e. pre arbitration years). This has led to a renaissance of sorts in the trade world. Beane is a master at making trades at the right time, and this offseason is no doubt a time for Beane to shine.
With the roster of this year’s team losing a big chunk the offseason will be very interesting to follow. There are pieces missing at nearly every spot on the field and that could lead to some big time changes. The offseason is usually time for fans to lick their wounds and get excited for next season. This offseason however will have a major affect on how the A’s will look in 2014. Follow closely or you’ll miss it.