What's in store for A's at Winter Meetings?

December 1st, 2023

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos’ A's Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The Winter Meetings are where front offices lay the foundation for future moves throughout the offseason, and that is certainly what the A’s will be doing as they look to improve upon a disappointing 112-loss season.

The A’s front-office contingent, led by general manager David Forst, will continue the trade and free-agent talks it has engaged in over the past few weeks. There is also the MLB Draft lottery, which will be a central focus of the week for the club.

With the Winter Meetings getting underway on Monday in Nashville, here is everything you need to know.

Key events

  • Sunday, Dec. 3: HOF Contemporary Era ballot results released (Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 5: Draft Lottery
  • Wednesday, Dec. 6: Rule 5 Draft

Club needs
The A’s could use upgrades in several areas of their roster. Based on recent comments made by Forst, an experienced veteran starting pitcher might top that list of needs. The bullpen will also need to be improved, especially now that the closer role is vacant following the retirement of Trevor May, who led the team with 21 saves last season.

Potential trade candidates
Seth Brown saw his name floated around at this year’s Trade Deadline and could be a player of interest for teams this offseason for his power and ability to play all three outfield spots in addition to first base. He is not eligible for free agency until 2027 and is coming off a bit of a down year that followed a career-best '22 campaign, so the A’s would likely be selling low on an offseason deal. But with younger options like Lawrence Butler, JJ Bleday, Esteury Ruiz and Ryan Noda already in the Majors and a depth of outfielders close to Major League-ready in the Minors, Brown could be moved to address other needs.

Prospect to know
No. 1 prospect Jacob Wilson hit the ground running in his first taste of pro ball after the A’s selected him sixth overall in the 2023 MLB Draft. Playing 23 games with High-A Lansing, the shortstop hit .318 with an .833 OPS and 10 extra-base hits while striking out just 10 times in 99 plate appearances. Wilson received an invite to big league Spring Training, where he’ll get a chance to perform in front of the A’s coaching staff, and if his organizational debut is any indication, the 21-year-old could be on a fast track through the system.

Rule 5 Draft
J.T. Ginn, Oakland’s No. 18 prospect who was acquired from the Mets as part of the return for Chris Bassitt in 2022, is exposed in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. The right-hander was limited to just 26 2/3 innings over eight starts in 2023 due to biceps tendinitis and posted a 7.43 ERA. Though he’s struggled to stay healthy since joining the A’s, Ginn’s intriguing arm could lead to another team possibly taking a chance on him as a bullpen piece. Infielder Logan Davidson, the club’s No. 20 prospect and first-round Draft pick in 2019, is available in the Rule 5 Draft for a second consecutive year.

The A’s have been quite active in making Rule 5 selections over the past several years, most recently striking gold by discovering their starting first baseman in Noda with the second pick in last year’s Draft, and there’s a high likelihood of continuing that trend as they hold the top overall selection this year. An intriguing name on the pitching side is Giants prospect R.J. Dabovich, a right-hander with a 93-99 mph fastball and mid-80s curveball with power and depth, both of which can be plus-plus offerings at their best and can help a bullpen. On the position player side is Astros prospect Justin Dirden, an outfielder who is coming off a down year that saw him battle a hamstring injury but showcased some serious power in 2022 and can play all three outfield spots.

Burning question
Where will the A’s play beyond 2024? Following MLB’s approval of the A’s relocation to Las Vegas with a new stadium in Nevada expected to be ready for the start of the 2028 season, the question of where the A’s will play their home games after this upcoming season remains unanswered. While Forst and Co. stay out of the off-the-field happenings with the club, this lingering question will no doubt have an impact on prospective free agents or trade acquisitions. Reported options include extending the current lease at the Oakland Coliseum, as well as playing a majority of home games at Oracle Park in San Francisco.