Understanding completely that with just two days until the July 31 trade deadline, rumors fly about as fast as a Yordano Ventura fastball around the internet, there is certainly a reason for A’s fans to pay attention to this beauty from Comcast Sports New England’s Sam McAdam:
“St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers are widely thought to be in on Lester, but industry sources say the Red Sox also have received interest from another handful of clubs, led by Milwaukee, Atlanta, Oakland and Toronto.”
Notice that city listed second to last — Oakland.
As McAdam goes on to state in his article, “Oakland, which earlier this month landed Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija, is clearly in go-for-it mode.”
A rotation of Jeff Samardsija, Jon Lester, Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir in October would be deadly. Add Jason Hammel as a fifth, or out of the bullpen, another reliable long-man in Jesse Chavez… Wow.
Lester would be only a two-month rental though. A free agent at the end of the season, there is zero chance the A’s would resign him to an extension. It would also cost the A’s another top-level prospect to acquire him. Having already dealt away Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, along with Dan Straily, you have to wonder if Oakland still has the talent in the minors to land Lester?
It seems it always comes back to depth when you talk about Oakland, and this is no different. The addition of 2014 top-draft pick Matt Chapman, a third baseman, to the A’s farm system, and the presence of MVP-candidate Josh Donaldson on the Major League roster perhaps makes Renato Nunez a bit expendable. Nunez, fresh off an appearance in the All Star weekend’s Futures Game is Oakland’s No.3 prospect at the moment, batting .284 with 25 homers in High-A ball at Stockton.
Add lefty Drew Pomeranz to the mix and throw in another prospect off Oakland’s top-10 list and you have the makings of a pretty decent trade package. Although not as flashy as landing Oscar Taveras of the Cardinals or either Joc Pederson or Corey Seager of the Dodgers, Oakland could make up for it by giving the Red Sox quantity in terms of quality prospects from the lower levels. Max Muncy, Michael Ynoa? They rank ninth and sixteenth on Oakland’s prospect list, but could have value to the Red Sox as players with high upside that they could use in addition to Nunez and/or Pomeranz.
The only untouchable in the farm systems at the moment — and this is just because I believe he is not far off the talent we gave up in Russell — is Daniel Robertson. Though, you’d have to give serious thought to trading him if that was the price as well. (It’d hurt to give up two shortstop prospects in one summer though).
I’m not suggesting it would take all four players, but you could certainly make the argument that hanging a World Series banner for 2014 would be worth the sacrifice of a few top-20 prospects.
Besides, how many home-grown players, drafted by the A’s, do they currently have on the 25-man roster (hint, just two — Sean Doolittle and Sonny Gray)? And where do the A’s sit in the standings?
I’ll take the rotation of Samardzija, Lester, Gray and Kazmir in October any day and let Billy Beane rebuild the farm system as he sees fit down the road.