Report: A’s talked to Rays about David Price before finding match with Cubs

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The blockbuster deal between the Athletics and Cubs has been officially announced. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are headed to Oakland while Chicago will receive prospects Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, Dan Straily, and a player to be named later or cash considerations.

With the trade, the A’s have strongly positioned themselves for another run in October, but they looked at other trade scenarios before finding a match with the Cubs. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, one involved a possible deal for the Rays’ David Price:

They considered, for example, David Price. Once they steeled themselves to trading Addison Russell, the precocious 20-year-old who was going to be their shortstop for the next seven years starting in 2015, the A’s knew anyone was in play, including Price. They talked with the Rays. Permutations of a deal went back and forth. It never materialized.

It’s unclear how talks stalled or if they ever got serious. Like Samardzija, Price is under team control for next season, so perhaps A’s general manager Billy Beane wanted two pitchers for his rotation, which the Rays couldn’t offer. From the Rays’ perspective, they likely wanted some different pieces or possibly something more significant to part with Price. For instance, they might not have had a need for someone like Dan Straily. Ultimately, the needs of both clubs didn’t match up like they did in the deal involving Samardzija and Hammel. We might never know the answers here, but it’s an interesting what-if scenario to consider.

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.