HOUSTON –- As Thursday’s 1 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline draws closer, the A’s continue to surface in trade rumors.
But you have to wonder how much urgency there is within Oakland’s front office to make a move over these final 24 hours, given how aggressive they’ve already been in acquiring Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs to beef up their starting rotation.
That trade came back on July 5, and it seemed to bolster the area of the team that most needed to be addressed. But Hammel enters Wednesday’s start at Houston having struggled over his first three starts with Oakland.
Perhaps that’s why the A’s have been a surprise team linked to Boston left-hander Jon Lester. CSN New England’s Sean McAdam reported Tuesday that the A’s were one of several teams that have had dialogue with the Red Sox about Lester, who is 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA and will be a free agent after this season.
But the Cardinals and Dodgers are reported as the teams most aggressively in pursuit of Lester. And it’s tough envisioning the A’s being able to put together a package enticing enough to pry Lester away given that they’ve already dealt their two top prospects in shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney.
Second base is the position where it seems the A’s could most use an upgrade, and they’re been at least exploring the second base market. But Oakland’s current players at that spot – Alberto Callaspo, Eric Sogard and Nick Punto – hold up pretty decently in the eyes of one major league scout who recently has watched the A’s.
“Callaspo’s numbers don’t jump out at you, but he gives you good at-bats,” said the scout, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Punto and Sogard, those are scrappy guys. I don’t know what the A’s would want, or what they really need, besides second base. Their rotation is strong. They don’t have any real obvious holes.”
How about the outfield? There has to be a degree of concern with center fielders Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry both sidelined with injuries. But is it enough for the A’s to pull the trigger on a deal? The hope is that Gentry, on the disabled list with a fracture right hand, will miss only a couple of weeks before going out on a rehab assignment and returning shortly after. Crisp’s strained neck was enough of a concern for him to leave the team on this road trip and get MRI in the Bay Area, but the findings weren’t enough to warrant a DL stint, at least not yet.
A long-term replacement in center would not seem an absolute must at this time.
Then again, we know to expect the unexpected with the A’s. A month ago, would you have guessed that Samardzija and Hammel would be wearing Green and Gold?
Here’s a glance at the other two postseason contenders from the AL West -- the moves they’ve made and what they still might try to accomplish before 1 p.m. Thursday:
Los Angeles Angels – The Angels, who began Wednesday 2 ½ games behind the A’s for first place, have been aggressive in upgrading their bullpen.
They acquired closer (and former Athletic) Huston Street from San Diego in exchange for four prospects. Before that, the Angels sent Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh for Jason Grilli in a swap of relievers and they also acquired lefty specialist Joe Thatcher from Arizona.
The Angels reportedly are still on the lookout for starting pitching to supplement a rotation that already boasts a solid 3.77 ERA, fourth-best in the AL.
[RELATED: MLB standings]
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners have fallen to 11 games back in the division but they’re still in the thick of the wild-card chase. They’ve been linked to both pitching and offense as the deadline approaches.
Seattle is believed to be a suitor for Lester, who was scatched from his start Wednesday night, only intensifying the trade speculation around him. The Mariners also have been linked to Tampa Bay’s David Price, though there’s no certainty that the Rays will deal their ace.
But the Mariners are poised to get lefty starter James Paxton back from the disabled list. And some wonder if the Mariners would be better suited concentrating on adding a hitter. They’ve been linked to Rangers outfielder Alex Rios and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.