A's biding their time in Nashville

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A's biding their time in Nashville

NASHVILLE -- As the fans hunger for every tasty morsel of new information that comes out of the Winter Meetings, it is often hard for teams to serve up what it takes to satisfy their appetite.

In this case, the A's fan base is starving for a shortstop. But they have to wait for the A's brass to hunt and gather a delectable dish to serve on opening night.

After a full day in Nashville under the expansive roof of the Gaylord Opryland hotel and convention center, the A's still haven't set their sights on a single choice target.

"I'm not quite sure we have that clarity yet," A's general manager Beane said from his suite in the hotel. "There are a number of options and pros and cons with each one."

The biggest question is the fit. Stephen Drew could be a nice fit, but based on the rumored years and dollars that 37-year-old Marco Scutaro might be signing for, Drew could be very costly.

There's Hiroyuki Nakajima -- a prized international talent -- but how his numbers will translate into Major League Baseball is a big unknown.

Yunel Escobar is being shopped by the Marlins. He has a desirable contract. He is owed $5 million in 2013, and then his club will have a $5 million option for 2014 and 2015. It will take a package of prospects to acquire him.

Beane wouldn't say he was leaning in either direction as far as how he'd like to go about acquiring a shortstop. He said there is an internal debate about whether trading for one or going the free agent route is the way to go.

So what player represents the best fit for the A's?

"Our most important year as it relates to finding a shortstop now is the impact he'll have on 2013," Beane said. "The guy that can help us the most that year is going to be most attractive to us."

If a free agent is the solution, the A's are looking for a short term deal. The A's aren''t willing to deal any of their Major League-ready starting pitchers, or any of their big league outfield depth. Oakland won't rush into a deal, and they will wait until the proposal or price is right for them.

As a result it will take time.

"I don't necessarily expect it to be something that happens here," Beane warned.  

There are about seven television sets, tons of media, agents, and all the shot callers from each Major League franchise gathered in the same venue. So naturally fans expect things to happen now. It probably won't. The hunger games continue.

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

Notes: A's likely to leave winter meetings with unfinished business

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — A’s general manager David Forst flies home Thursday afternoon, and unless there’s a drastic change in the final stages of the winter meetings, he’ll still be searching for a center fielder.

Wednesday’s events included some discussion between Oakland and other parties, but no concrete progress toward landing a center fielder. That’s despite the late-breaking news Tuesday that the A’s and Royals were talking trade for fleet-footed Kansas City outfielder Jarrod Dyson.

“It’s a two-way street with a free agent or a team, a function of the other side’s pace,” Forst said. “It’s unlikely (they complete a deal at the meetings), and not for lack of conversations or lack of ideas. Just things move at different speeds.”

It doesn’t necessarily mean the chance of landing Dyson is done. Forst pointed out talks which transpire at the winter meetings sometimes materialize into a deal down the road. But it’s also worth noting that the Baltimore Orioles are pursuing Dyson too. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that Baltimore and Kansas City have discussed him.

Therefore, consider the A’s as players in the free agent as well as trade markets.

“We’ve cast a wide net,” Forst said.

Two free agent center fielders came off the board Wednesday as the Rockies agreed to a five-year $70 million contract with Ian Desmond and the Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez to a one-year $11.5 million deal. Desmond was assumed to be out of the A’s price range, but Gomez was thought to be a realistic target. He opted to return to Texas, which needed to do some outfield re-stocking after losing Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who like Gomez was an in-season acquisition for the Rangers in 2016.

The three most enticing free agents left now at the position appear to be Dexter Fowler — like Desmond, expected to command a pricey multi-year deal — former Athletic Rajai Davis and Austin Jackson.

As for other needs, the A’s would add a veteran starting pitcher at the right price and could look to upgrade at second base, though neither of those is as high a priority as landing someone to anchor the middle of their outfield.

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Manager Bob Melvin addressed reporters at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Though A’s top baseball official Billy Beane said Tuesday the organizational focus was on the future, aiming for a strong team to be in place by the time the A’s potentially move into a new ballpark, Melvin’s attention is solely on the upcoming season.

“In 2012, we had I don't know how many rookies on that team. It was all rookie starters, and we ended up winning the division,” Melvin said. “Once you start the season, the focus is all about winning.”

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Should the A’s not bring in a center fielder who can also lead off, the first in-house candidate Melvin mentioned as perhaps hitting atop the order was Joey Wendle. He gave a nice showing of himself in a September call-up and hit leadoff for a stretch, but there’s no guarantee that Wendle even starts at second base next season, especially if veteran Jed Lowrie is healthy after foot surgery.

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Former Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale has rejoined Oakland’s staff as Melvin’s third-base coach, and Melvin has plenty of confidence that Hale will capably fill Ron Washington’s shoes as the infield instructor. Washington was popular with A’s infielders and had particular success working with shortstop Marcus Semien.

Hale served as Melvin’s bench coach before getting hired by Arizona before the 2015 season.

“Obviously we've talked a lot about Wash and what he's meant to some of these younger guys,” Melvin said. “We feel like if anybody can replace Wash, it's Chip Hale.”

**

Forst said John Axford will pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Fellow reliever Liam Hendriks has not yet committed to Team Australia.

**

Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, was examined by A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta on Wednesday and his recovery is going very well. He’s between throwing programs right now. Forst added that lefty Felix Doubront is also coming back well from the same procedure.

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Report: Holliday's no-trade clause with Yankees only covers A's

Matt Holliday spent the first half of the 2009 season in Oakland.

Apparently, he has no desire to return.

In his one-year, $13 million contract with the Yankees that was finalized on Wednesday, Holliday has a limited no-trade clause that protects him from being traded to only the A's, according to SB Nation.

Holliday was acquired by the A's following the 2008 season for Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street and Greg Smith.

But he only played in 93 games with the A's before they dealt him to St. Louis for Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen and Shane Peterson.

The 37-year-old spent the last seven full seasons with the Cardinals.