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Yankees potential trade partner: Oakland Athletics

Even historically bad teams have some pieces to sell.

New York Yankees v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

As previous trade partner pieces have touched on, the addition of an extra Wild Card team has really shrunk the market. The window of contention extends to a ridiculous number of teams, particularly with the mediocrity of both central divisions.

With that in mind, there are always going to be a handful of ballclubs whose window to sell is crystal clear given their poor records. And in 2023 one of those teams is the Oakland A’s, whose 22-62 campaign thus far is easily the worst in the sport.

A 22-62 record means that a large portion of your roster is composed of quote-unquote undesirables, at least when it comes to potential trades. However, even the A’s have a couple of pieces whose potential availability may pique the interest of a contender like the Yankees.

OF - Brent Rooker

Foreseeing a Brent Rooker trade is tricky business for a few reasons we’ll touch on, but working under the assumption no one is off-limits, he’d likely be the most enticing chip the A’s front office could put out there.

Coming off a journeyman beginning to his career, with the Twins, Padres, and Royals before settling into an everyday role with Oakland in 2023. Rooker has seemingly unlocked something which has allowed him to go from Quad-A player to above-average big-league bat ... for a time at least.

Across 60 games entering play on Friday, Rooker has 13 homers, and a 126 wRC+, as one of the few bats standing out in the worst lineup in the American League. A lot of that production was fueled by a scorching hot first month and a half though; since mid-May, he’s hit .171/.248/.265 with two homers and a 49 wRC+. So the question is whether or not he can catch fire again.

What makes a Rooker trade tricky is that although the right-handed batter has trips across four organizations, he is still in only his second year of service time, and thus is controllable through the 2027 season. Any trade package for Rooker will have to account for this level of team control, and there’s a healthy level of skepticism from any potential trade partner as to his ability to sustain these numbers.

Nevertheless, the A’s have very little to lose by selling high with a contending window on the not-so-near future, to put it lightly.

1B/OF - Ryan Noda

In the interests of briefness, much of what was said about Rooker also applies to Ryan Noda, with the exception that he’s primarily a first baseman, and not a particularly solid one (21st percentile in OAA). Yankees fans got a taste of this when he botched a couple potential pickoffs of Anthony Volpe in the most recent series. In 290 plate appearances though, he’s hitting .228/.379/.401 with eight homers and a 129 wRC+.

Noda has a little over a handful of games in the outfield this season, and he would need to move there more permanently, as first base isn’t an option with the Yankees. Like Rooker, Noda also has a ton of service time left, still in his rookie campaign, while not possessing the track record nor the prospect pedigree to ensure he’ll be able to sustain this solid first half.

All things considered, Noda is a more realistic target in case Rizzo or Stanton were to suffer a more serious injury. Otherwise, with his lack of defensive skills, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Lack of enticing rentals

Both of the players mentioned above don’t fit the usual profile that gets sold at the deadline. However, the A’s don’t really have a single enticing veteran to put out on the market.

Ramón Laureano would be that guy, even in a down season with a .635 OPS, but he’s out indefinitely with a fractured hand. Tony Kemp probably doesn’t move the needle even for the most struggling teams, and on the pitching end, there is a reason behind the historically bad numbers.

With the strength and depth of the Yankees bullpen, and lack of quality over in Oakland, there isn’t a single reliever who Brian Cashman would really bother pursuing over promoting within. Although Paul Blackburn and former Yankee JP Sears are putting up respectable numbers, 3.77 ERA for Blackburn, and 1.07 WHIP for Sears, the same applies for the rotation.