Andrew Bailey

Bob Melvin

2015 Preview: Oakland Athletics


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The Oakland Athletics.

The Big Question: Can the A’s reshuffled roster put them in the playoffs for the fourth straight year?

When I was assigned the A’s preview by that jerkwad who assigns the team previews around here, I gotta tell ya, I was a bit concerned. As a team that cruised for months and then collapsed, the A’s were already the sort of team that is the hardest to predict. Then they went and reshuffled the roster this past winter and who in the heck knows what to think? If I had any hair I’d be tearing it out by now.

But then I remembered: the A’s do this kind of crap all the time. Really, they do.

They have been to the playoffs three years in a row, but they’ve done it a bit differently each time. Last year we were asking whether they could survive without Jarrod Parker and Grant Balfour. Heading into 2012 they were the odds-on favorite to be the worst team in the AL West and all they did was win 94 games after shipping out Trevor Cahill, Andrew Bailey, Gio Gonzalez, Hideki Matsui, Josh Willingham and David DeJesus and bringing in Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon, Seth Smith, Jonny Gomes, Parker, Josh Reddick and Brad Peacock. Nothing is as constant as change in the Oakland A’s clubhouse. And, at least in recent years, the change hasn’t mattered because the same GM is running the show who has seemingly always run the show. And while no one would ever choose to deal with the particular constraints Billy Beane has to deal with, he has literally been written into a history as a guy who mixes and matches whatever is on hand and somehow always makes it work. Or usually makes it work. He certainly makes it work a lot better with Bob Melvin than he did before. The both of them are just good at putting seemingly disparate pieces together.

So you look at the 2015 A’s, who have lost Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Derek Norris, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, John Jaso and a ton of other guys and who have brought in Ike Davis Ben Zobrist, Jesse Hahn, Billy Butler, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and a ton of other guys and you could totally, reasonably say “damn, this is a mess.” Or, you could realize that the A’s have shuffled the deck like this almost every offseason, that absolutely no one has had a great handle on what the A’s would do from year-to-year the past several seasons and that, lo and behold, they are usually in the playoffs come October and that, maybe, they’ll be just dandy.

I don’t know if they’ll suck or be dandy. I have to answer that Big Question above with “I have no idea.” But neither do most of you. In some ways this makes them among the most interesting teams in baseball this and every year. But what I won’t do, and what no one else should do, is to lazily say “the A’s blew the team up” this past winter and conclude that they’re rebuilding or that they’re toast or something. Because it’s not been the case in recent years, and you sort of have to trust what Beane and company are doing until it stops working, don’t you?

What else is going on?

  • As for the brass tacks of the various parts of this team, it’s fair to say that the rotation will be pretty good. Certainly at the top, as Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir return. Beyond that there are a lot of question marks, but a LOT of arms who could potentially answer them. Drew Pomeranz, Jesse Chavez and Jesse Hahn will likely be the first three up behind Gray and Kazmir, and all three were above-average starters last year. Waiting in the wings is Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Chris Bassitt. Or maybe Graveman makes it. He’s started four games this spring and has allowed only one earned run. And hell, Barry frickin’ Zito is still banging around. The point is that there is a good bit of quality and depth here, even if the younger dudes are unproven.
  • Lineups? Who needs a set lineup? The A’s haven’t had one in a long time. Sure, they’ve had regulars, but in the past couple of years I’d guess that Bob Melvin has ran out a good one hundred different lineup combinations each season. You do things like that when you have, like, three catchers who can hit. Or, like this year, you have Ben Zobrist who is the player most likely to pull a Bugs Bunny and play all nine positions in a single game. Coco Crisp starts in left, but he could see time in center if things don’t go right. Craig Gentry can likewise play anywhere. The infield is far more unsettled — almost a complete turnover from 2014 — but Zobrist gives them flexibility. Ike Davis and Brett Lawrie are most famous for their status as disappointments, but you don’t become a disappointment without first having promise. If either of these guys even play up to close to their level of potential, the offense could be a huge strength here.
  • Billy Butler is probably the most “famous” import on this year’s club. And his best years — particularly in the power department — seem to be behind him. But he’s actually an improvement over what the A’s trotted out at DH last season. They probably overpaid for him, but the A’s don’t overpay too often. When they do, it’s because they had a big need. And at DH they had a big need.
  • In the pen, Sean Doolittle will get a late start to the year, but he’s expected to be healthy soon and around for most of the season. Tyler Clippard cost Yunel Escobar and will make a lot of money for a setup guy this season, but see above about overpaying for a need. There is a lot of depth here too as many of those guys mentioned above in the rotation section could see time in the bullpen too. As could the aforementioned Barry frickin’ Zito. Flexibility is the key with this club. In every single aspect. One might even say that flexibility is . . . the new inefficiency?

Prediction: With great uncertainty comes great excitement. And fear. And with great flexibility comes potentially great comprises. This A’s team could break in any number of ways. They have the potential to suck or be great. And as recent history in the pre-season prediction business has shown us, teams who are hard to figure in March tend to be way better than the ones who have a set narrative.

But I’m still gonna hedge and say Third Place, American League West. And fully expect to be wrong in one direction or the other.

2015 Free Agent Tracker

Hanley Ramirez

Here’s our annual free agent tracker, which will be updated regularly throughout the offseason. The rankings are based on the Top 150 Free Agents column. Players who didn’t make it into the top 150 are included at the end.

Re-signings are in red. Players signing with new clubs are in blue. The 12 players to turn down qualifying offers (and thus require draft pick compensation) are listed with asterisks.

All ages are as of April 1, 2015.

1. Max Scherzer (RHP Tigers, 30)*: Nationals – seven years, $210 million
2. Jon Lester (LHP Athletics, 31): Cubs – six years, $155 million + vesting option
3. Yasmany Tomas (OF Cuba, 24): Diamondbacks – six years, $68.5 million
4. Hanley Ramirez (SS Dodgers, 31)*: Red Sox – four years, $88 million + $22 million vesting option
5. James Shields (RHP Royals, 33)*: Padres – four years, $75 million + $16 million option
6. Pablo Sandoval (3B Giants, 28)*: Red Sox – five years, $95 million + option
7. Russell Martin (C Pirates, 32)*: Blue Jays – five years, $82 million
8. Victor Martinez (1B-DH Tigers, 36)*: Tigers – four years, $68 million
9. Nelson Cruz (OF-DH Orioles, 34)*: Mariners – four years, $58 million
10. Chase Headley (3B Yankees, 30): Yankees – four years, $52 million
11. Ervin Santana (RHP Braves, 32)*: Twins – four years, $55 million + option
12. Francisco Liriano (LHP Pirates, 32)*: Pirates – three years, $39 million
13. Melky Cabrera (OF Blue Jays, 30)*: White Sox – three years, $42 million
14. Adam LaRoche (1B Nationals, 35): White Sox – two years, $25 million
15. David Robertson (RHP Yankees, 29)*: White Sox – four years, $46 million
16. Brandon McCarthy (RHP Yankees, 31): Dodgers – four years, $48 million
17. Jake Peavy (RHP Giants, 33): Giants – two years, $24 million
18. Andrew Miller (LHP Orioles, 29): Yankees – four years, $36 million
19. Jose Fernandez (2B Cuba, 26): Still in Cuba / unlikely to sign
20. Aramis Ramirez (3B Brewers, 36): Brewers – $14 million mutual option exercised
21. Alex Rios (OF Rangers, 34): Royals – one year, $11 million
22. Jung-Ho Kang (SS Korea, 27): Pirates – four years, $11 million ($5 million posting fee)
23. Hiroki Kuroda (RHP Yankees, 40): Japan
24. Colby Rasmus (OF Blue Jays, 28): Astros – one year, $8 million
25. Jason Hammel (RHP Athletics, 32): Cubs – two years, $20 million + option
26. Nick Markakis (OF Orioles, 31): Braves – four years, $44 million
27. Michael Cuddyer (OF-1B Rockies, 36)*: Mets – two years, $21 million
28. Jed Lowrie (SS Athletics, 30): Astros – three years, $23 million
29. Edinson Volquez (RHP Pirates, 31): Royals – two years, $20 million
30. Torii Hunter (OF Tigers, 39): Twins – one year, $10.5 million
31. Asdrubal Cabrera (2B-SS Nationals, 29): Rays – one year, $7.5 million
32. Kwang-Hyun Kim (RHP Korea, 26): Remaining in Korea
33. Norichika Aoki (OF Royals, 33): Giants – one year, $4.7 million + option
34. Mike Morse (OF Giants, 33): Marlins – two years, $16 million
35. Luke Gregerson (RHP Athletics, 30): Astros – three years, $18.5 million
36. Francisco Rodriguez (RHP Brewers, 33):
37. Sergio Romo (RHP Giants, 32): Giants – two years, $15 million
38. Hector Olivera (2B Cuba, 29):
39. Adam Lind (1B-DH Blue Jays, 31): Blue Jays – $7.5 million option exercised (traded to Brewers)
40. Joakim Soria (RHP Tigers, 30): Tigers – $7 million option exercised
41. Justin Masterson (RHP Cardinals, 30): Red Sox – one year, $9.5 million
42. A.J. Burnett (RHP Phillies, 38): Pirates – one year, $8.5 million
43. Rafael Soriano (RHP Nationals, 35):
44. Zach Duke (LHP Brewers, 31): White Sox – three years, $15 million
45. Jason Grilli (RHP Angels, 38): Braves – two years, $8 million
46. Casey Janssen (RHP Blue Jays, 33): Nationals – one year, $5 million + option
47. J.A. Happ (LHP Blue Jays, 32): Blue Jays – $6.7 million option exercised (traded to Mariners)
48. Aaron Harang (RHP Braves, 36): Phillies – one year, $5 million
49. Billy Butler (DH-1B Royals, 28): Athletics – three years, $30 million
50. Stephen Drew (SS Yankees, 32): Yankees – one year, $5 million
51. Kendrys Morales (1B-DH Mariners, 31): Royals – two years, $17 million
52. Carlos Villanueva (RHP Cubs, 31): Cardinals – minor league deal ($2 million)
53. Pat Neshek (RHP Cardinals, 34): Astros – two years, $12.5 million + option
54. Rickie Weeks (2B Brewers, 32): Mariners – one year, $2 million
55. Ryan Vogelsong (RHP Giants, 37): Giants – one year, $4 million
56. Brett Anderson (LHP Rockies, 27): Dodgers – one year, $10 million ($4 million in incentives)
57. Burke Badenhop (RHP Red Sox, 32): Reds – one year, $2.5 million + mutual option
58. Chris Young (RHP Mariners, 35):
59. Kyle Kendrick (RHP Phillies, 30): Rockies – one year, $5.5 million
60. Joba Chamberlain (RHP Tigers, 29):
61. Chris Denorfia (OF Mariners, 34): Cubs – one year, $2.6 million
NT. Everth Cabrera (SS Padres, 28):
62. Nick Hundley (C Orioles, 31): Rockies – two years, $6.25 million
63. Brandon Morrow (RHP Blue Jays, 30): Padres – one year, $2.5 million ($5 million in incentives)
64. Gavin Floyd (RHP Braves, 32): Indians – one year, $4 million ($6 million in incentives)
65. Geovany Soto (C Athletics, 32): White Sox – minor league contract
66. Luke Hochevar (RHP Royals, 31): Royals – two years, $10 million
NT. Kris Medlen (RHP Braves, 29): Royals – two years, $8.5 million ($10 million in incentives)
67. Chris Young (OF Yankees, 31): Yankees – one year, $2.5 million ($3.825 million in incentives)
68. Tim Stauffer (RHP Padres, 32): Twins – one year, $2.2 million
69. Misael Siverio (LHP Cuba, 25): Mariners – minor league contract
70. Ichiro Suzuki (OF Yankees, 41): Marlins – one year, $2 million
71. Jonny Gomes (OF Athletics, 34): Braves – one year, $4 million
72. Josh Johnson (RHP Padres, 31): Padres – one year, $1 million ($6.25 million in incentives)
73. Mike Aviles (INF Indians, 33): Indians – $3.5 million option exercised
74. Tsuyoshi Wada (LHP Cubs, 34): Cubs – one year, $4 million ($2 million in incentives)
75. Chad Billingsley (RHP Dodgers, 30): Phillies – one year, $1.5 million ($6.5 million in incentives)
76. Neal Cotts (LHP Rangers, 35): Brewers – one year, $3 million
77. Jason Motte (RHP Cardinals, 32): Cubs – one year, $4.5 million
78. Emilio Bonifacio (2B-OF Braves, 29): White Sox – one year, $4 million
79. Tom Gorzelanny (LHP Brewers, 32): Tigers – one year, $1 million
80. Josh Willingham (OF-DH Royals, 36): Retired
81. Joe Beimel (LHP Mariners, 37):
NT. Gordon Beckham (2B-3B Angels, 28): White Sox – one year, $2 million
82. A.J. Pierzynski (C Cardinals, 38): Braves – one year, $2 million
83. Joel Peralta (RHP Rays, 39): Rays – $2.5 million option exercised (traded to Dodgers)
84. Kelly Johnson (2B-3B Orioles, 33): Braves – minor league contract
85. Alberto Callaspo (2B-3B Athletics, 31): Braves – one year, $3 million ($1 million in incentives)
86. Joel Hanrahan (RHP Tigers, 33): Tigers – one year, $1 million ($2.5 million in incentives)
**. Roberto Hernandez (RHP Dodgers, 34):
87. Clint Barmes (INF Pirates, 36): Padres – one year, $1.5 million + option
88. Mark Reynolds (1B-3B Brewers, 31): Cardinals – one year, $2 million ($800,000 in incentives)
89. Colby Lewis (RHP Rangers, 35): Rangers – one year, $4 million
90. David Ross (C Red Sox, 38): Cubs – two years, $5 million
91. Jared Burton (RHP Twins, 33):
92. Delmon Young (OF-DH Orioles, 29): Orioles – one year, $2.25 million
93. LaTroy Hawkins (RHP Rockies, 42): Rockies – $2.25 million option exercised
94. Alfonso Soriano (OF FA, 39): Retired
95. Jose Veras (RHP Astros, 34): Braves – minor league contract
NT. Justin Smoak (1B Blue Jays, 28): Blue Jays – one year, $1 million
96. Corey Hart (1B-DH Mariners, 33): Pirates – one year, $2.5 million ($2.5 million in incentives)
97. John Axford (RHP Pirates, 32): Rockies – minor league contract ($2.6 million)
98. Chris Capuano (LHP Yankees, 36): Yankees – one year, $5 million
NT. Andy Dirks (OF Blue Jays, 29): Blue Jays – minor league contract
99. Jim Johnson (RHP Tigers, 31): Braves – one year, $1.6 million ($900,000 in incentives)
NT. Daniel Descalso (INF Cardinals, 28): Rockies – two years, $3.6 million
NT. Alexi Ogando (RHP Rangers, 31): Red Sox – one year, $1.5 million ($1.5 million in incentives)
100. Jason Frasor (RHP Royals, 37): Royals – one year, $1.8 million + option
101. Matt Belisle (RHP Rockies, 34): Cardinals – one year, $3.5 million
102. Andrew Bailey (RHP Yankees, 30): Yankees – minor league contract
103. Jeanmar Gomez (RHP Pirates, 27): Phillies – minor league contract
NT: Wesley Wright (LHP Cubs, 30): Orioles – one year, $1.7 million
104. Kevin Correia (RHP Dodgers, 34):
105. Mike Adams (RHP Phillies, 36):
NT. Gaby Sanchez (1B Pirates, 31): Japan
NT. Juan Francisco (1B-3B Red Sox, 27): Rays – minor league contract
106. Phil Coke (LHP Tigers, 32):
107. Dustin McGowan (RHP Blue Jays, 33):
108. Ernesto Frieri (RHP FA, 29): Rays – one year, $800,000 ($2.35 million in incentives)
109. Nate Schierholtz (OF Nationals, 31): Rangers – minor league contract ($1.75 million)
NT. Brandon Beachy (RHP Braves, 28):
110. Ramon Santiago (INF Reds, 35): Blue Jays – minor league contract ($1.1 million)
111. Craig Breslow (LHP Red Sox, 34): Red Sox – one year, $2 million
NT. Kyle Blanks (1B-OF Athletics, 28): Rangers – minor league contract ($1 million)
112. Matt Lindstrom (RHP White Sox, 35):
113. Kyuji Fujikawa (RHP Cubs, 34): Rangers – one year, $1 million plus incentives
114. Wily Mo Pena (OF Japan, 33):
115. Mark Ellis (2B Cardinals, 37):
116. Bruce Chen (LHP FA, 37):
117. Jesse Crain (RHP Astros, 33): White Sox – minor league contract
118. Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP Mets, 34): Japan
119. Endy Chavez (OF Mariners, 37): Mariners – minor league contract
120. Rafael Betancourt (RHP Rockies, 39): Rockies – minor league contract
NT. John Mayberry Jr. (OF Blue Jays, 31): Mets – one year, $1.45 million
121. Ryan Ludwick (OF Reds, 36): Rangers – minor league contract ($1.75 million)
122. Paul Maholm (LHP Dodgers, 32): Reds – minor league contract
123. Scott Hairston (OF Nationals, 34):
124. Chris Perez (RHP Dodgers, 29): Brewers – minor league contract ($1.5 million)
NT. Eric Young Jr. (OF Mets, 29):
125. Matt Albers (RHP Astros, 32):
126. Munenori Kawasaki (INF Blue Jays, 33): Blue Jays – minor league contract
127. Yozzen Cuesta (1B Cuba, 26?):
128. Sergio Santos (RHP Blue Jays, 31): Dodgers – minor league contract
129. Franklin Morales (LHP Rockies, 29):
130. Mike Carp (1B FA, 28): Nationals – minor league contract
131. Juan Carlos Oviedo (RHP FA, 33): Rangers – minor league contract
132. Ryan Doumit (C-DH Braves, 33):
133. J.J. Putz (RHP FA, 38): Retired
134. Joe Thatcher (LHP Angels, 33):
135. Gerald Laird (C Braves, 35): Diamondbacks – minor league contract
NT. Logan Ondrusek (RHP Reds, 30): Japan
136. Felipe Paulino (RHP White Sox, 31): Red Sox – minor league contract
137. Jamey Wright (RHP Dodgers, 40):
138. Reed Johnson (OF Marlins, 38):
139. Wandy Rodriguez (LHP FA, 36): Braves – minor league contract
140. Franklin Gutierrez (OF FA, 32): Mariners – minor league contract
NT. David Huff (LHP Yankees, 30): Dodgers – minor league contract
141. Jason Marquis (RHP FA, 36): Reds – minor league contract
142. Dan Uggla (2B FA, 35): Nationals – minor league contract
143. Kevin Kouzmanoff (1B-3B Rangers, 33):
144. Nolan Reimold (OF Diamondbacks, 31): Orioles – minor league contract
145. Sean Burnett (LHP Angels, 32):
146. Rafael Furcal (2B-SS Marlins, 37):
147. Josh Outman (LHP FA, 30): Braves – one year, $925,000
148. Scott Baker (RHP Rangers, 33): Yankees – minor league contract
149. Scott Downs (LHP Royals, 39): Indians – minor league contract
150. J.P. Arencibia (C Rangers, 29): Orioles – minor league contract

Signed pre-rankings:
Orioles re-signed SS J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $40 million contract ($14 million option for 2018)
Red Sox re-signed RHP Koji Uehara to a two-year, $18 million contract
Phillies re-signed RHP Jerome Williams to a one-year, $2.5 million contract
Phillies re-signed OF Grady Sizemore to a one-year, $2.5 million contract

Other signings:
Diamondbacks signed RHP Yoan Lopez for an $8.27 million bonus (minor league deal)
Braves signed OF Dian Toscano to a four-year, $6 million contract.
Cardinals signed INF Dean Anna to a one-year contract
Braves signed OF Zoilo Almonte to a one-year contract
Braves signed RHP Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract
Blue Jays signed LHP Jeff Francis to a minor league contract
Phillies signed OF Jeff Francoeur to a minor league contract
Royals signed INF Ryan Roberts to a minor league contract
Reds signed OF Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract
Indians re-signed RHP Shaun Marcum to a minor league contract
Pirates signed RHP Brad Lincoln to a minor league contract
Rockies signed LHP John Lannan to a minor league contract
Mariners signed RHP Mark Lowe to a minor league contract.
White Sox signed C George Kottaras to a minor league contract.
White Sox signed RHP Brad Penny to a minor league contract.
Blue Jays signed 1B Daric Barton to a minor league contract.
Rockies signed OF Roger Bernadina to a minor league contract.
Reds signed LHP Jose Mijares to a minor league contract.
Reds signed RHP Michael Bowden to a minor league contract.
Blue Jays signed LHP Andrew Albers to a minor league contract.
Diamondbacks re-signed INF Jordan Pacheco to a minor league contract.
Giants re-signed RHP J.C. Gutierrez to a minor league contract.
Nationals signed RHP Heath Bell to a minor league contract.

Yankees sign Andrew Bailey to a minor league deal

andrew bailey getty

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors is reporting on Twitter that the Yankees are close to a deal with reliever Andrew Bailey. Exact details of the deal haven’t been disclosed yet.

Update: ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that it is a minor league deal “stacked with incentives”. He adds that the Major League side of the deal is worth $2.5 million and includes an option and a buyout for the 2015 season.

Bailey, 29, spent the last two seasons with the Red Sox. In 2012, he missed the first 116 games of the season after undergoing surgery on his right thumb to repair the ulnar collateral ligament. He returned in August but struggled, posting a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 innings through the end of the season. In 2013, he started off strong but went on the disabled list in late April with a strained right biceps. In mid-July, he went on the shelf again, then underwent surgery on the 24th to repair the labrum and capsule in his right shoulder. He won’t be ready for the start of the 2014 regular season, but he is expected to return by mid-season.

Bailey does have a worrying injury history, but when he has been healthy, he has been effective. He won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 2009 with the Athletics, saving 26 games and posting a 1.84 ERA. The Yankees are hoping the right-hander can recapture some of that magic.