As the August 31st waiver deadline approaches, the probability that the A’s will look to add a player continues to grow. Locked into a neck-and-neck battle with the Texas Rangers for first place in the AL West, and clinging to the second wild-card slot along with the Tampa Bay Rays, the feeling is that the A’s are lacking that one piece that will put them over the top.
Do they need a pitcher to spell Bartolo Colon and keep the recently inconsistent rotation arms fresh? Is it a bullpen arm to further strengthen the current late game attack of Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour? Or is it a bat that they need to add to that consistent offensive thump the A’s have lacked this season? The simple answer — yes, to all of the above.
The reality though, the A’s are likely going to be settling for an answer to one of the above needs and making due with what they have as well as some minor league reinforcements when the calendar turns to September.
Oakland could look to Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn, that would add some power to the offense. They could look to bringing in an outfielder to replace Josh Reddick in right field, though as proven by his five-homer outburst in Toronto, he is capable of turning things around at any given point.
Frustrating as the offense can be at times, it is dominant at others, and the old adage is that pitching (and defense) win championships.
It’s time for another trade with the Washington Nationals…
It’s time for former Oakland ace Dan Haren to come back to the A’s and help them win another division title, make a run at the AL Pennant, and hopefully win the final game of the season, as anyone who watched the Moneyball movie knows is something Billy Beane has yet to accomplish under his watch as Oakland’s GM.
The Washington Nationals, despite being in second place in the NL East, are a below .500 team sitting 14.5 games behind the division leading Atlanta Braves and 9.5 games behind the Wild Card leading Reds and Cardinals. They are out of it. Whether they are ready to admit that or not, odds are they will be willing to sell the remaining month of Haren’s contract before September rather than make him a qualifying offer during the offseason.
Haren, for his part, has not had a very good season, which should actually be a benefit to the A’s in trying to acquire him. A willingness to absorb all of his remaining salary, roughly $3.5 million for the rest of the year, should drop the price in terms of prospects headed to the Nationals in return.
The flip side of the argument, Haren has been much better since the second half of the season rolled around. He has a 3-1 record, 2.53 ERA and 28 strikeouts to just six walks over his last five starts (32 innings). His strikeout-per-nine innings and walks-per-nine innings ratios have stayed consistent throughout the season at 7.9 and 1.7 respectively.
The 2007 AL All-Star game starter is familiar with pitching in Oakland and was a part of their last run deep into October baseball when they lost in the 2006 ALCS to the Detroit Tigers.
Although that 2006 playoff team was his last experience pitching in October baseball and a playoff environment, Haren has been a solid starter throughout his career that would represent a huge boost to the A’s bullpen if he truly has turned a corner on his season.
His presence would allow the A’s to rest Colon for a few starts, limit the number of pitches and innings they expose Sonny Gray to, and hold back on trying to rush Brett Anderson back into the starting rotation should the need for a starter arise. Come playoff time, he’d be a very solid number three, or even four, starter behind Colon, Jarrod Parker and perhaps A.J. Griffin (or Gray if he continues to perform as he did Thursday afternoon against the Astros).
If the Alex Rios trade to the Rangers is any indication, the price to acquire Haren should not be a hindrance. The Rangers parted way with 22-year old infield prospect Leury Garcia in the deal, and received cash considerations from the White Sox as a kicker to offset some contract escalators in Rios’ contract.
Garcia was hitting .264/.314/.409 with four homers, 19 RBI and 13 stolen bases for the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate at the time of his trade.
I have to admit, I am not familiar enough with the Washington Nationals system to know what their areas of need are, but it would stand to reason that the A’s have the right mix of pitching and position players in their minor league system to entice the Nationals into a deal without the names Addison Russell or Michael Choice coming up.
For his career, Haren has already recorded 43 wins as an Oakland Athletic, the most in any uniform during his 11 year career. It’s about time he come back to the place he had arguably his greatest success and add some more wins onto that record while helping the A’s get where his 2006 team could not, a World Series.