ARLINGTON, Texas -- Curiosity abounds over whether the A’s will acquire a second baseman before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
There’s good reason for the speculation, given that it’s the one spot on the diamond where Oakland could most use the upgrade. As a group, A’s second basemen entered Friday hitting just .225 with a .288 on-base percentage and have totaled one homer and 23 RBI.
Despite those numbers, manager Bob Melvin said he doesn’t think it’s a must that the team import a second baseman from outside the organization.
“(Eric) Sogard is starting to swing the bat a little bit better recently,” Melvin said before Friday’s series opener at Texas. “When he plays well, he can really contribute. Defensively, on the bases … (Acquiring a second baseman) is what's been bandied about out there. But I don’t necessarily think we have to do something there.”
There are no shortage of second base targets, though their availability is tough to decipher. Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist is reasonably priced and a versatile switch hitter, the kind of guy who would fit in very well on an A’s team that loves to utlilize players at different positions. But the Rays entered Friday riding a seven-game winning streak that might just convince them to keep a player like Zobrist.
The Mets’ Daniel Murphy was an All-Star this season and is team-controllable through the 2015 campaign, making him an obviously attractive target. It’s believed that New York was scouting some of the A’s prospects in the lower minor leagues recently, though it’s not clear if that was directly related to Murphy or not. He wouldn’t come cheap as the Mets know he’s got a lot of value.
Oakland has been linked to Seattle’s Nick Franklin, but the Mariners might have reservations about trading with a team that it’s chasing in the American League West.
The Phillies’ Chase Utley has a no-trade clause that he seems unwilling to waive, and the Diamondbacks’ Aaron Hill is signed through 2016 at $12 million per season. That’s a hefty price tag.
In Sogard, the A’s have a very reliable defender who entered Friday 4 for 11 over his last three games. Alberto Callaspo is nearing a return from a strained right hamstring and is scheduled to play a rehab game with Single-A Stockton on Saturday. Melvin has said he could be activated as soon as Sunday. Nick Punto also is getting his share of time at second.
The A’s struck big already on the trade front, landing starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs in early July. Is another move in the cards?
“I know our guys are always turning over every stone they can to improve the team,” Melvin said. “They look at so many different things. We’ve made a big trade. It’s made us better. If they continue to look, that’s fine, but I like the team we have.”