The A’s look to be sellers at the deadline, and in other news, the sky is blue. Oakland entered the All-Star break with a 39-50 record, good for last place in the AL West. They have absolutely no shot at the division and are 7.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. Once again, the A’s will look to get younger.
Billy Beane and company have shown that they aren’t afraid to deal a veteran if it means lowering the payroll and adding prospects. They have dealt the likes of Ben Zobrist, Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir in recent years. It’s not out of the ordinary. The question here is if they have any veterans that pique the Yankees’ interest.
The press has linked the Yankees to first baseman Yonder Alonso, who finally broke out this season. He’s slugged 20 homers and holds an OPS of .934. That’s obviously far better than anything the Bombers have trotted out at first base this season, but Brian Cashman reiterated that Greg Bird is the first baseman of the future. Given Alonso’s season so far, the asking price might be too high for what figures to be a rental until Bird’s ankle finally heals.
In terms of starting pitching, one name obviously stands out. Sonny Gray looks to be the main attraction at the trade deadline, with the Yankees being one of the like suitors. Gray was banged up in 2016, and holds an ERA of exactly 4.00 this season, but his strikeout and walk numbers are his best since his rookie season. His friendly contract makes him even more desirable.
Gray will demand a pretty penny if the Yankees want to grab him, so expect to part ways with at least one coveted prospect if a trade were to happen. Prospects are a commodity the Yankees have right now, but we will have to see exactly how much of the recently revamped farm system Cashman wants to give up.
Another heavy area of interest for the Yankees is the bullpen, which has struggled mightily in the past month. The A’s have arms that could help the Yankees in the later innings, including Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Doolittle can rack up the strikeouts (13.03 K/9) but is an injury concern, having only 20.1 innings pitched this season. The left-hander might have a more reasonable asking price due to his recent arm problems, but it wouldn’t be a major discount since he has shown his prolific strikeout ability when healthy.
As for Madson, he has been stellar this season. In 37.1 innings, he holds an ERA of 2.17, and is under contract through next season, which only adds to his trade value. He may be 36 years old, but seems to have plenty of life left in his arm. Madson has walked just six batters this year, which is huge for the Yankees and their bullpen at the moment. Madson would be a great replacement for Tyler Clippard, but the asking price will dictate how badly Cashman wants to strengthen the relief corps.
If these clubs end up as trade partners, it will likely be for pitching. The Yankees need pitchers and the A’s need prospects. A coast-to-coast trade is definitely a possibility. The real question is if it would it be for a starter like Gray or a reliever like Madson?