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Beane still focused on A's youth movement

Club's uncertain stadium future isn't changing its approach
MLB.com @JaneMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Baseball operations in Oakland will stay the course, even after the club's plans to build a new stadium near Laney College abruptly ended last week.

That means the A's intend to surge forward with a youth movement set in motion months ago. Even while operating with no timeline to leave the Coliseum -- a proposition built on promises of increased revenue before stadium talks ended -- the club's brain trust still believes it is prudent, and doable, to lock up several members of its young core.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Baseball operations in Oakland will stay the course, even after the club's plans to build a new stadium near Laney College abruptly ended last week.

That means the A's intend to surge forward with a youth movement set in motion months ago. Even while operating with no timeline to leave the Coliseum -- a proposition built on promises of increased revenue before stadium talks ended -- the club's brain trust still believes it is prudent, and doable, to lock up several members of its young core.

"I think that it's still a strategy that we're going to try to embark on," A's vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said from the Winter Meetings on Monday. "Realistically, the sooner the better."

The way in which Beane and Co. expect to build around these players -- notably corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson -- also doesn't change.

"We're going to keep moving forward," Beane said. "We've just embarked on this commitment to young players, so this doesn't really change it. We're going to do the same thing we set out on and keep going."

Video: Beane discusses the difficulty of making trades

In looking to augment a roster that made significant strides in the second half, the A's continue to focus on a right-handed-hitting outfielder -- a search that has picked up steam following the conclusion of a series of moves involving Shohei Ohtani, now an Angel, and Yankees acquisition Giancarlo Stanton.

The A's have been linked to Miami's Marcell Ozuna and Avisail Garcia of the White Sox, but both players would demand hefty returns. Then there's Yankees prospect Clint Frazier. Already blocked in their system, Frazier's future in pinstripes is even more hazy now that Stanton is on the scene, and the Yankees, seeking starting pitching and a second baseman, could potentially be a trade match for Oakland. The A's could make incumbent Jed Lowrie available, and they also have a wealth of pitching.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, are expected to use their glut of young outfielders as trade bait, which could work in the A's favor. Bay Area native Stephen Piscotty, signed in St. Louis through 2022 for $33.5 million with a team option for '23, remains a sensible target.

It's the type of controllable contract the A's have identified as a preference, though Beane stopped short of proclaiming it a must-have.

"We're pretty specific with who and what we want, be it a free agent or a trade," he said, "so I don't think we're going to be going well into the night with a bunch of different teams, just because we have a few free agents we're interested in, a trade here and there, and if we don't get them, we'll just wait into the offseason."

Though the A's tend to shy away from proclaiming any of their players as untouchable when sifting through trade talks, Beane hinted that Chapman and Olson, as well as others, fall under that umbrella.

"We need to realize where we are and make sure we don't interrupt where we're headed by doing something that, in terms of trading a young player, would only hurt us down the road," Beane said. "In the last year, we've done a really good job of taking a farm system that was probably bleh and turning it into one of the better ones in the game. I think we're all proud of that, and we want to keep that going."

The A's are also seeking a left-handed reliever at the Winter Meetings, while a veteran starter remains low on their priority list.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

 

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