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  • Starting Pitching Trade Partners: Oakland Athletics


    Jamie Cameron

    In the second of a three-part series, we examine the organizations best suited to impact starting pitching from for the Twins. Who are the names? What do they bring to the table? What might they cost?

    Image courtesy of Joe Nicholson, USA Today Sports

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    As we begin the dead period induced by the end of the current CBA, the rest of the AL Central continues to improve while the Twins stand pat. The Tigers and Javy Baez agreed on a six-year, $140 million contract Tuesday, frustratingly adding a premier shortstop to the division, in a position of need for the Twins.

    In spite of the understandable pessimism with which Twins fandom has greeted the beginning of free agency, the Byron Buxton extension still provides a spark of optimism for me. I simply cannot see a team extending an MVP-caliber center fielder and not continuing to build around him.

    Earlier this week, I looked at the Reds as an ideal trade candidate in the Twins search for playoff-caliber starting pitching. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Oakland Athletics, who appear to be on the cusp of a rebuild after a disappointing 2021. The A's off-season got off to a disastrous start when manager Bob Melvin was coaxed to San Diego. Long-term stadium troubles and the exit of premier players like Mark Canha may make for a long winter in northern California. So who does Oakland have? Why should the Twins want them? And what might it take to acquire them?

    Chris Bassitt
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    If the Twins want to contend for the AL Central in 2022, Bassitt should be their number one target from Oakland. Despite his season being derailed by a facial fracture sustained in August, Bassitt had a memorable season. He amassed career-highs in fWAR (3.3), K/9 (9.1), and managed a 3.34 FIP over just 157 innings. The primary downside to Bassitt is he’s a free agent in 2023, so the Twins would only be acquiring one year of Bassitt, which would make him a little cheaper than other options.

    Potential trade: Twins trade OF Trevor Larnach to Oakland for RHP Chris Bassitt

    Frankie Montas
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    Montas really put it together last season with the A's. In 2021, he managed 4.1 fWAR, 9.96 K/9 and a 3.37 FIP while throwing a 97 mph heater and an exceptional slider. Montas is under contract until 2024, and at 28, has age on his side. Consequently, his price would be more expensive than other starting pitching options with two years of team control.

    Potential Trade: Twins trade INF Luis Arraez and INF Keoni Cavaco to Oakland for RHP Frankie Montas

    Sean Manaea
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    Manaea comprises the left-handed prong of Oaklands top three starting pitchers, and similarly to Montas and Bassitt, had his best season to date in 2021 (which Nash Walker recently covered). Manaea managed 3.3 fWAR, 9.7 K/9 and a 3.66 FIP over 179 innings of work. Manaea also has some injury history and less explosive stuff than Montas or Bassitt, his fastball sitting at around 91 mph. Manaea is a free agent in 2023 and unless the asking price is cheaper than my trade proposal, I wouldn’t pursue him strongly if I were the Twins as there are too many orange flags.

    Potential trade: The Twins trade C Mitch Garver to Oakland for LHP Sean Manaea

    What would you offer in a trade with Oakland? Which of their starting pitchers appeals to you the most?

     

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    Why not more than one of these guys? The Baseball Trade Simulator says that Kepler, Arraez, and Canterino is almost exactly equivalent value as Montas and Manaea, for example.

    You could do a lot worse than Montas, Manaea, Bundy/Maeda/Winder, Ober, and Ryan in your starting rotation, and that trade wouldn't totally kill the lineup.

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    First, "I simply cannot see a team extending an MVP-caliber center fielder and not continuing to build around him." This quote from the article is in reference to the Buxton extension. The answer to this non-question is; we cannot build around him with anything but scraps because we are now financially tied to him. He will be playing rehab games in St. Paul for the next seven seasons, so not only are we going to have to find players for the holes we currently have, we are going to have to find a suitable fill-in for all the time Buxton is going to miss, Cave was apparently not the answer to that, Kepler needs to remain in the corners. We will have to sign someone to play around 100 games per season in place of Buxton. That is not going to be cheap!

    Next, "Twins trade OF Trevor Larnach to Oakland for RHP Chris Bassitt". So, we are to trade one of our rising, power hitting stars for a rental? He [Larnach] played in just 79 games last year and was just getting his feet wet with MLB pitching. I know the Twins don't want to admit they too are rebuilding, but they are. Part of rebuilding is ensuring you hang on to the young talent you have. That brings me to the next option...

    "Twins trade INF Luis Arraez and INF Keoni Cavaco to Oakland for RHP Frankie Montas". Luis Arraez needs to stop being treated as a 'utility guy' and just be given an opportunity to take a spot, everyday. The guy is a pure hitter and should be an anchor at the top of our lineup. I would not mind at all acquiring Montas, but again, not at the expense of tools and young talent the Twins desperately need.

    Finally, "The Twins trade C Mitch Garver to Oakland for LHP Sean Manaea". Can someone tell me a power hitting catcher we can get to replace Garver? They must be a dime-a-dozen if his name is being added in a trade for a guy that has injury issues (maybe he could share a room with Buxton during rehab assignments) and at 91MPH, that is the equivalent to underhand throw now in MLB. We will really need CF help with Buxton repeatedly out (see first paragraph).

    Just seems we are offering suggestions of trades for the sake of trades. What betters the Twins? What makes them competitive now and in the future? What can we acquire that won't strap the team? These are questions that other clubs ask all the time, not 'I want to make a deal because I want a pitcher... you, you look nice and I will give the team something I will never get back for you!' A team like the Rays trade players they know they cannot resign when they have two years left, because that adds value for that player. They don't want to see that person go necessarily, but it is a decision they has to be made for the betterment of the club. And, in return, they typically get a haul. That is why they can continue to compete in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox that over pay for everyone and Toronto that has drafted incredibly well.

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    I think Bassitt is the best player to acquire.  Being 32 or 33 and with 8.225 million in career earnings, he is probably the most anxious to sign a 3 or 4 year contract in the 40 to 65 million range. 

    Knowing Oakland they will want value and quantity.  Celestino, Moran and Sands and Cave to fill in as the prospects develop.  A cheap lotto ticket for them. 

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    I'm not sure why you'd trade your team's second best bat for one year of Sean Manaea when the team isn't contending next year. If Oakland is resetting too, two more years of Garver may not be what they're looking for either. As much as Oakland's pitchers seem intriguing, their lack of controlled years just doesn't seem to mesh with what the Twins are doing at the moment. Even Montas who has two years of control would simply become July trade bait, but the Twins would get less for him than they paid since his clock would go from two years to a year and a half.

    I'd say any pitcher with fewer than three years of control is probably nobody the Twins need to investigate unless it's a salary dump kind of move by the other club.

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    Jamie, these are sound ideas. The key is not what we want, although this is important, but what Oakland or another team sees as important for their team.

    There is some good for both teams in a MN-OAK trade. Bassitt and Montas might require a bit more than Larnach, Arraez, and Cavaco. Add Canterino and Strotman, even add Dobnak to close the deal, although I might agree to add even more. I'm also still wishing to pry away a young Miami pitcher too (unlikely) by trading Lewis and Duffey for Cabrera and Meyer. This trade would only be done with the Twins signing Trevor Story to a contract for 6/$132 million. The current roster plus these changes result in a roster for about $120 million. The Twins still have a number of other options too. They could bring in an experienced reserve corner outfielder quite inexpensively. They also have retained minor league players such as Kirilloff, Rortvedt, Martin, Miranda, Celestino, Wallner, Miller, Sabato, Rodriguez, Urbina, and pitchers such as Ryan, Ober, Duran, Winder, Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Sands, Petty, Enlow, Raya, and Varland. The Twins can afford to part with a few pieces if they can find the partner who looks favorably on our offers. The core of Buxton, Polanco, and others are ready and just need a little boost from the pitching staff. Falvey will unfold his plan in time. The money is not a problem in any way. A roster for less than $120 million is affordable for the Twins franchise.

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    Jamie, GREAT article !  You're identifying great options and providing great "grist" for discussion.   And again, I find myself wondering if tony&rodney is some long lost brother I never knew.  And I agree with Ron Coomer who also opined "why not TWO of Oakland's pitchers.  I will mention yet again, that Ryan and Ober SHOULD be considered as ONE SP.  Innings limits puts the Twins hoping they can get 100-110 innings out of each for a total of 200-220.  In "the old days" we would refer to that as ONE pitcher.  tony&rodney nailed it.  Make a blockbuster for Montas AND Bassitt.  Arraez is a talent, but we have Polanco firmly entrenched at his primary position and Miranda on the way to replace him in his role.  I like Larnach as a prospect and he could develop to be a VERY GOOD major league hitter.  But I'm willing to give up Larnach to improve our pitching.  I depart from Kipp35's thinking.  He makes good points and backs them up with sound reasoning.  But I see it differently.  I make the blockbuster trade tony&rodney suggests for Montas & Bassitt in a heartbeat!  In fact, I also think I'd up the ante a little more with Oakland if I had to as well to close that deal. (your suggestions to up that ante are very reasonable tony&rodney).  

    Starting Rotation:  Montas, Bassitt, Bundy, Miami SP,  Ryan/Ober.  (with young pitchers percolating in the minors)

    Lineup:  Largely Intact and bolstered with an All Star Caliber SS.   Garver catching,  Kiriloff, Polanco, Story, Donaldson around the infield.  Buxton flanked by Kepler and ? in the OF and Sano the primary DH.   And a Bullpen that could use a closer but that has good potential.  Despite what the White Sox and Tigers have already done (and may still yet do) this is a Twins team that could compete.  And we have more talent in the minors on the way.  All at a $120 million budget as tony&rodney laid out.  It's clear the BEST SP's on the FA market are gone.  Rodon is too big a risk.  But THIS PLAN retools the Twins to compete in 2022 and beyond with enough talent added thru trades and investing the money that could have gone to FA pitchers in an All Star caliber SS.  Brilliant !!

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    This is a fun read Jamie! Thanks for posting. 

    My favorite, as well as being the most risky target, from Oakland is Montas. I can't say I'm not nervous of a 2nd positive steroid test (he missed 80 games in 2019) but having 2 years of control is super appealing, and he looked REALLY good in 2021. Since the A's are fully rebuilding, do you think they would even want guys who have already debuted? I get the sense they would push more for players who are ready to debut in 2023 or 2024, but I could be wrong.

    That said, IF you can build a trade package around Luis Arraez, I fully believe he is both the A) Highest value veteran trade piece and b) The easiest to replace on our current roster. Miranda can take his place today and be the utility guy for 2b and 3b (and some 1B) and most likely would provide a little pop.

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    I'm unenthusiastic about trading Larnach because right now you're selling low on him (you can't tell me that his value isn't depressed by his 2021) and that's the sort of prospect play that comes back to bite you hard.

    Arraez is interesting in that we don't really have a great spot for him, he's got bum knees which could cause him to go poorly, but he's also a proven MLB commodity. I'm more interested there than Larnach, since we're dealing from strength there (Miranda could take his ABs pretty easily I think).

    Garver would be easier to move if Jeffers had been more consistent this year. But Garver was really good when healthy and it would be hard to lose that bat when you don't really know if you're getting what you think you're getting with Jeffers.

    Cavaco is another "sell low" move that I don't like. Yes, he's struggled but this would make him a throw-in.

    I like the Oakland pitchers, but I'm not sure about the trades here. I would think dealing for short-time pitchers like this you'd be looking at some more A-ball guys for Oakland to replenish their system rather than swapping out guys who are about to get more expensive?

     

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