Burnt last winter, A's threaten to sit out free agency

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Let down by Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera and Nomar Garciaparra last winter, the A’s plan to sit out free agency this time, GM Billy Beane told MLB.com on Wednesday. Instead, he wants to go the trade route.

“We’re going to look at young players to fill spots, first and foremost,” Beane said. “If those players we’d like to acquire aren’t obtainable, we’ll consider bringing in guys who can hold the positions down. We’re going to stay disciplined and try to do everything we can to fill those spots with young players.
“So the next step is to continue to bring guys like Andrew [Bailey] up here. That’s our responsibility, and I know the deal. To sign a couple free agents and have three or four press conferences during the winter doesn’t get it done. We’re going to be disciplined.”

With the Angels certain to be in the mix again and both the Mariners and Rangers coming on in a big way, the A’s are certain to need some reinforcements to succeed next year. As things stand now, they’re likely looking at the following lineup:
CF Rajai Davis
RF Ryan Sweeney
LF Scott Hairston
DH Jack Cust
C Kurt Suzuki
3B Eric Chavez
2B Mark Ellis
1B Daric Barton
SS Cliff Pennington
There is some nice outfield depth in the form of Aaron Cunningham, Travis Buck and Eric Patterson, but that’s a lineup without a lot of punch and the team will have to bring in a quality alternative to Chavez at third base in the event that free agent Adam Kennedy departs.
The rotation has Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and a bunch of question marks. Trevor Cahill is a top talent, but he might need some additional minor league time. Vin Mazzaro and Gio Gonzalez both had ERAs in the mid-5.00s last season. Josh Outman probably won’t be an option until the second half following Tommy John surgery.
The bullpen will remain a strong point, especially if Joey Devine makes it back, and the defense should be very good if Cust can be limited to DH duties for the most part. The A’s, though, simply must bring in a couple of quality players if they hope to challenge for the AL West. As is, it looks like they’re in for a rebuilding season. Fortunately, they’ll finally shed Chavez’s contract after next year, potentially putting them into pretty good position for 2011.

Yordano Venutra killed in an auto accident

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 2:  Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals jokes with teammates as he walks off the field after the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on June 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.

Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.

Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.

Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.

Report: Tim Lincecum is not ready for retirement

ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 29:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the Los Angeles Angels during the second inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 29, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).

Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.

While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.