Rumor Roundup: A's focusing on shortstops


Rumor Roundup: A's focusing on shortstops

NASHVILLE -- The A's prime focus is finding a shortstop. Their options are becoming clearer. 

According to multiple reports the Marlins are aggressively shopping Yunel Escobar, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in an offseason blockbuster trade. The A's aren't willing to part with any of their starting pitchers or young bullpen arms, so it will likely take prospects to complete the deal.

According to a report published by CBSSports, Grant Green and Brad Peacock are the names being discussed with the Marlins. Escobar hit .253 with nine homers, 51 RBI, and 35 walks, and a .300 on-base percentage in 2012. His numbers were much better in 2011, when he hit .290 with 11 homers, and a .369 OBP. Escobar, 30 has character flaws and got suspended for three games last season after writing a gay slur on his eye black.

Escobar is on the second year of a two-year $10 million contract with club options for 2014 and 2015 at $5 million per season. That would give the A's the luxury or having him relatively cost controlled with an option to get out of the contract if prospect Addison Russell is deemed ready in the next couple years.   

On the free agent front, A's general manager Billy Beane plans to meet with Scott Boras, Stephen Drew's agent, here at the Winter Meetings. Coincidentally, Boras also represents Green.

The A's don't see Green as an option at shortstop. He has a better chance to stick at second base, a position he has been told to focus on.

The Marlins are in rebuilding mode and the cost of prospects could be much more reasonable for the A's than trying to outbid the other teams interested in Drew's services. The free agent market for starting shortstops is extremely thin.

Drew was acquired via trade on August 20. He hit .250 with five home runs, 16 RBI, and 18 walks in 39 games with the A's last season. He is familiar with the A's and has a good relationship with A's manager Bob Melvin and bench coach Chip Hale. They both coached Drew when he was with the Diamondbacks.

"They know that we want him back," Melvin told Comcast SportsNet of Drew and his agent. "I know that Stephen felt that he was a good fit on our team, and he was a good fit on our team, and hopefully that has some value."

Boras and Drew would have the market cornered on the shortstop position if it wasn't for a wild card international free agent named Hiroyuki Nakajima. The A's have talked about Nakajima internally. The Japanese shortstop hit .311 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI, 52 walks, and a .382 on-base percentage in 2012 for the Seibu Lions in the Japan Pacific League.

"We do know quite a bit about him," Melvin said while addressing the media at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. "He's a hitter, he looks like a hitter."

In what could be a backup plan if none of these things pan out, the agent of free agent shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt says he met with Oakland, Milwaukee, and Houston.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins

Hahn, Alonso leave with injuries, A's drop slugfest to Marlins


OAKLAND -- Justin Bour matched his career high with four hits including his fourth home run in five games to highlight Miami's best offensive game of the season, and the Marlins held off a late surge to beat the Oakland Athletics 11-9 on Tuesday night.

Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon had three hits each on a night when every Miami player had at least one by the third inning. Three other Marlins had two hits apiece while Ichiro Suzuki added a two-run single in his return to the starting lineup.

Miami entered the day with the second-worst record in the majors having dropped 14 of 17 before getting a season-high 19 hits against Oakland in the first meeting between the two clubs since 2014.

Yonder Alonso hit his 13th home run of the season for the A's, but left with a bruised right hand after getting hit by a pitch in the sixth. Ryon Healy and Rajai Davis also homered for Oakland.

Jose Urena (2-2) pitched five uneven innings for his first career interleague win in 10 appearances. The Miami right-hander allowed six runs over five innings, raising his ERA from 1.91 to 3.08.

Jesse Hahn (1-4) took the loss and left the game in the third inning with a triceps strain. He pitched just two innings, giving up five runs on seven hits while striking out two. He gave up a single to Christian Yelich in the third then left after a visit to the mound by the Oakland trainer.

The A's scored three times in the ninth and had the tying runner at the plate with two outs before AJ Ramos struck out Stephen Vogt.

Bour doubled as part of a three-run third, singled and scored in the fifth, homered leading off the seventh then singled again in the ninth. It was Bour's 12th home run this season and eighth in his last 12 games.

Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen received a platelet-rich plasma treatment before the game. The left-hander has been out since early May with arm fatigue. . RHP David Phelps was placed on the bereavement list and is expected to rejoin the team Friday. . Reliever Drew Steckenrider was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. . RHP Junichi Tazawa (rib cage inflammation) is scheduled to throw a bullpen this weekend.

Athletics: X-rays taken on Alonso's hand were negative. . LHP Sean Doolittle (shoulder strain) will throw a 25-pitch bullpen Wednesday. If all goes well, the former closer could face hitters in his next outing. . RHP Ryan Dull continues to be bothered by soreness in his right knee.

Miami right-hander Edinson Volquez (0-6) pitches the finale of this two-game series Wednesday afternoon while Oakland counters with right-hander Sonny Gray (1-1). Gray is attempting to win consecutive starts for the first time since April 2016.