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If Oakland sells, the Rockies should buy

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On Thursday, it was announced that the San Diego Padres have reached a three-year agreement with Bob Melvin to become their next manager. This marks the end of an 11-year run that saw consistent competitiveness with Melvin at the helm of the Oakland Athletics. The A’s finished with a winning percentage of .528% during his tenure and reached the playoffs six times - three of which stemmed from division championships.

We will have to wait until next season to see what impact Melvin makes on a Padres organization thirsty to become a perennial contender, but what this move means for Oakland is a question that we may quickly get an answer to. Many consider Melvin’s departure, which was allowed by Oakland without requiring compensation despite the fact he was already under contract, as a sign of things to come for the A’s:

It was a clear sign from management that the A’s likely won’t be all-in on contending again anytime soon and that this simply could be the first domino to drop.

It would be no surprise if the jewels of the roster become trade bait as the A’s step back for another rebuild. That means one or two of the magnificent corner infielders, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman, and perhaps a young pitcher or two, not excluding Sean Manaea, could be on the move.

This is not unfamiliar territory for Oakland. While not at a Marlins-level of peaks and valleys, the Athletics organization is no stranger to rebuilding after windows of contention and it appears that time may be coming once again for the Bay Area franchise. Any (or all) of the players at the core of a team that has posted a winning record in each of the past four seasons may be obtainable, which could present a perfect opportunity for a Colorado Rockies team that is in need of a talent infusion on its major league roster.

The stars

Superstar infielders Matt Olson and Matt Chapman usually come to mind first when making a wish-list from the A’s roster, but the cost will be steep and the number of suitors extensive for each. Both have put up elite defensive numbers, are major offensive threats and have two more years of arbitration remaining before hitting free agency after the 2023 season. Acquiring either would certainly represent an upgrade for the Rockies, however it’s fair to expect both the price and demand would make an acquisition difficult.

The corner infield pool is where the Rockies have the most depth in their organization, however. Both on the major league roster and in the farm system, there are existing quality options at first and third base moving forward so, when considering the cost and the team’s existing infrastructure, it would be understandable if the Rockies choose to shy away from these elite options.

On the mound

Outside of the two Matt’s, there is still plenty of inventory in Oakland that holds appeal, especially on the pitching side.

As the Rockies face the possible loss of Jon Gray this off-season, the idea of adding a proven commodity such as Frankie Montas, Sean Manea or Chris Bassitt could certainly fill any void Gray leaves behind in the rotation. Young arms Cole Irvin and James Kaprielian, both quality pitchers with lesser MLB track records, could also be savvy acquisitions that may pay dividends on the big league roster while improving the team’s overall pitching depth.

Meanwhile, Lou Trivino has been an above-average reliever for the past four seasons and could offer a quality addition to the bullpen for multiple seasons. Tall lefty A.J. Puk may offer the highest upside - in the rotation or out of the bullpen - of any of these options. A high-risk, high-reward acquisition, there’s a chance Puk could be available at a discounted price considering his troubles avoiding injury throughout his career.

In the outfield

The most appealing option to me, though, is Ramón Laureano. Olson and Chapman are great, and any smart pitching additions would be welcomed, but no player from Oakland would fit a specific need on the Colorado roster better than Laureano.

A right-handed hitter who has produced with the bat while being one of the better defensive center fielders in his four year career, Laureano possesses a strong two-way profile that the Rockies have been lacking in the middle of their outfield.

COL CF vs. Laureano 2018-2021

Stat COL CF Laureano
Stat COL CF Laureano
wOBA .320 .341
wRC+ 84 118
UZR/150 -5.5 2.9
fWAR 4.9 9.4
WPA -7.37 6.06

While Laureano has played in just 313 career regular season games, his impact has been more significant compared to the 1,090 games of center field production by the Rockies since 2018. Both offensively and defensively, Laureano would represent a clear upgrade for a Colorado club that is in sore need of an answer at that position.

That’s not to say acquiring Laureano comes without risk. He has yet to reach 125 games in a single season and was slapped with an 80-game suspension last season after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance. Laureano still has a handful of games left from that suspension to begin the 2022 season, but is just reaching arbitration for the first time this off-season and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season.

Although Ramón Laureano may appear to be the best fit for the Rockies, that doesn’t mean he would be the only piece that would make sense for Colorado. Like any trade, the context of what a team is acquiring compared to what they’re surrendering will best determine if the deal is a success. But the Rockies are on record that they’re looking to improve their offensive punch this off-season and a big upgrade to an outfield that was woeful in 2021 would be ideal. The fact is, if the Rockies are serious about gaining ground in 2022, a fire-sale in Oakland may present them with an opportunity to do just that.

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Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper among Players Choice Awards winners | ESPN

After being presented with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement award last week, Shoehei Ohtani was voted as the Player of the Year by his peers in the Players Choice Awards. Ohtani took home top honors and was named Outstanding Player as the best hitter in the American League. Bryce Harper took home the honors in the National League while Robbie Ray and Max Scherzer were awarded Outstanding Pitcher for their respective leagues.

Trey Mancini and Buster Posey each earned Comeback Player of the Year and Jonathan India and Ryan Mouncastle were named the top rookies. Marcus Semien won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award for his leadership qualities and Mark Belanger - the first former player to work for the Player’s Union who spent 15 years with the group before away in 1998 - was honored with the Curt Flood Award for his legacy in the game and union.

On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition

Peoria Javelinas 6, Salt River Rafters 5

Michael Toglia went deep for the sixth time this fall in a Rafters road loss in Peoria. Toglia had an additional hit to go with his three-run bomb in the sixth inning off of Braves’ farmhand Victor Vodnik to give the Rafters their first lead.

Ezequiel Tovar, Ryan Vilade and Willie MacIver were also in the starting lineup, however they combined to go 0-9 at the plate in the game. Vilade did draw a walk while Tovar scored one run and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th inning. Unfortunately that lead would not last as the Javelinas put up two runs in the bottom of the extra frame to earn the walk-off victory.

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