OAKLAND -- The A's employ some of the best pitchers in the game, but they want more.
Expect the first-place club to explore all avenues to swing a deal by Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline in an attempt to bolster the push toward a second straight postseason appearance.
Second base is of some concern, though Eric Sogard's offensive surge since the break has been encouraging. It's pitching that remains Oakland's top priority, according to a team source.
This coming from a club that already boasts the American League's best ERA at 3.58.
Seem strange? Maybe, but the A's believe they can never have enough pitching, particularly with such a sporadic offense that likely won't be upgraded this week. Nor can they assure full health from the rehabbing Brett Anderson, expected back in August. Even if healthy, Anderson could move to the bullpen should Oakland reel in another starter through a trade, bettering its staff all around.
White Sox veteran right-hander Jake Peavy, 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA, has heavily been linked to the A's, but he also has several other rumored suitors, including the Orioles, Cardinals, Red Sox and Braves. And the landscape of this year's trade market suggests there are few sellers, equating to steep prices.
It's been well documented that the addition of a second Wild Card in each league, along with the removal of Draft-pick compensation for players headed to free agency, has affected not only the numbers of sellers but the willingness of buyers to part with prospects.
That raises the question: How much are the A's prepared to give away, be it money or prospects, to land the type of personnel they feel will help them keep a strong hold on the division?
Peavy, who cleaned out his locker in Chicago on Sunday morning in anticipation of soon being traded, is owed approximately $24 million -- including $14.5 million next year -- and holds a player option worth $15 million for 2015. Oakland's total payroll currently peaks just above the $60 million mark.
The White Sox, who reportedly have no interest in absorbing any of Peavy's salary, are looking to land Major League-ready impact talent in return, with infielders and pitchers preferred. The A's have expendable Minor Leaguers, including infielders Jemile Weeks and Grant Green, but multiple scouts confirmed they are not willing to part with more coveted talent, including prospects Sonny Gray and Addison Russell.
Completing such a trade, then, appears complicated, but A's general manager Billy Beane has proven to surprise around this time of the year.
Should the A's let the Deadline pass without making a move, their manager believes his current roster has the ability to keep winning.
"I've stayed pretty constant in saying I like the group we have," Bob Melvin said. "I don't want to get disappointed. I don't want to look ahead to say, 'This is what we need and we need to do it.' We do have a good group here, and I like the group we have.
"Having said that, Billy's looking, and if he feels like there's an area we can shore up, even just incrementally, that's what he's done great the last couple of years. It's been incremental value, either a matchup guy or something like that, that makes us better, and I know we're looking at a number of things."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.