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.