The future is bright in Oakland, but the fans may be wary

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They’re 61-76 and sit 20.5 games out of first place, but if you listen to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, the Oakland Athletics have a bright future:

“It’s one of the best collections of talent in baseball right now. They made some mistakes in deceiving themselves (that) they had a chance to do something this year rather than just fully committing to the rebuild, but all signs point to up.”

The reason for the optimism: A good draft, some key international signings, and most importantly, the 24 players they’ve received for Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Chad Gaudin, Joe Blanton, Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay, Marco Scutaro, Matt Holliday and Orlando Cabrera.

Fans’ mileage tends to vary with this sort of thing.  There are certainly a lot of people — myself included — who get excited about a promising-looking bunch of prospects.  Who is going to make it? Who is going to bust? Who is going to get flipped for the guy who, in hindsight, constituted the final piece of the playoff puzzle?  That sort of thing can keep a fan warm all winter, dreaming all spring, and exciting all the following summer.

But A’s fans have been through this before.  There was a parade of great talent in the early part of this decade, and so much of it eventually went away.  To be sure, what was left played some very impressive baseball for a while, but they ultimately fell short, and for some fans close isn’t good enough.

Between that and the fact that ownership has mentally abandoned Oakland, it’s completely understandable if folks fail to buy what Goldstein is selling.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.