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.
Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with the media today. Naturally, he was asked various questions about the landscape of the sport, given that superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper remain unsigned as spring training begins. Per The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli, Manfred said that he thinks the free agent market will begin to move once spring training exhibition games begin. Manfred also said that Harper’s camp suggesting that he wants $400 million back in 2016 was “an impediment” to discussions throughout the offseason.
No word on why Machado is also as yet unsigned, as he did not have a reported $400 million ask.
Manfred’s job is to look out for ownership, so it’s not surprising to see him point the finger at Harper. Consider:
Manfred’s comment comes just months after the Red Sox won 108 regular season games and the World Series with baseball’s largest payroll. And ongoing evidence that there is indeed a positive correlation between dollars spent and team success. We often hear justification for tanking/rebuilding because the Cubs and Astros did it and won championships because of it. When the Red Sox use financial muscle to win a championship, it’s crickets.
Manfred didn’t stop there, however.
An easy way to get baseball’s “glow” back would be for two of the game’s best and most popular players to be in uniform playing games. The first spring training exhibition game will be played on February 22, so it’s not looking like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Baseball’s “glow” would also come back if more teams were actively trying to win. Instead, one-third of the league is “rebuilding” or otherwise coasting on revenue-sharing. For fans of the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Marlins — to name a few — the outcomes of their favorite teams’ seasons have already been decided, so what is there to get excited about?