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Athletics News

With pain of WC still fresh, A's set sights on '19

October 5, 2018

OAKLAND -- The recovery period can only last so long before A's decision-makers regroup and conquer the next task at hand.A Wild Card matchup with the Yankees in the Bronx didn't end in their favor, but business must continue in Oakland, and several critical decisions will be in play in

OAKLAND -- The recovery period can only last so long before A's decision-makers regroup and conquer the next task at hand.
A Wild Card matchup with the Yankees in the Bronx didn't end in their favor, but business must continue in Oakland, and several critical decisions will be in play in the coming weeks.
A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst and manager Bob Melvin reunited at the Coliseum on Friday to discuss those decisions with local media. So raw, though, were the leftover feelings from Wednesday's season-ending loss that such pressing matters only brought about mostly premature thoughts.
"That's the reality of losing the game and waking up and knowing the season is over, is that you have discussions that you have to have regarding some players that are free agents," Beane said. "We have to start that process pretty quickly."
A contract extension for manager Melvin could come first, then there's a slew of questions surrounding impending free agents -- including second baseman Jed Lowrie and catcher Jonathan Lucroy -- and soon-to-be free agents, chief among them Khris Davis.
The A's slugger, who is under club control through 2019, is due for yet another big pay raise after totaling a Major League-best 48 home runs. He also drove in 123 runs, generating MVP conversation, and hit .247 for the fourth straight year.
"In Khris' case," Beane said, "he's not going to be a free agent for at least another year, and hopefully not for a while, but it's something we'll talk about."
For three straight seasons, the 30-year-old Davis has recorded more than 40 homers and 100 RBIs. He was awarded $5 million in 2017 after beating the A's in arbitration, and the two sides were able to avoid a second hearing this year by settling on a $5.5 million bump for a one-year deal worth $10.5 million. Now Davis will be owed more than $15 million.
No player in A's history as ever earned as much in a single season, bringing even more urgency to a potential multiyear deal for the fan favorite. There's no place Davis -- ever so loyal to Oakland -- would rather be, he has said.
"The good thing is Khris is going to be back next year for sure, no matter what," Beane. "But we're also aware of the fact that he's going to be a free agent after that. We're aware of his value to the club.
"We've stated it during the season, and we've had some preliminary conversations about keeping him around longer. That will be part of the conversations we have."
Ditto Lowrie and Lucroy, who were monumental in Oakland's 97-win campaign. Lowrie, a first-time All-Star this year, will be entering his age-35 season, yet his consistent production on both sides of the ball will likely warrant a multiyear deal. But the A's have infield prospect Franklin Barreto waiting his turn, which could potentially impact their decision whether to bring Lowrie back.
Lowrie, who is coming off a four-year, $28 million deal, said Friday he would "absolutely" be open to staying in Oakland, and Beane has long made it clear he's a big fan of the infielder, recently saying he's been "underappreciated for a long time."

"I think I've made that abundantly clear, that the group of guys that are here are a special group, so if that situation were to work out, I'd be happy to hear what they have to say," Lowrie said.
Lucroy, too, is in line for a multiyear deal, though the A's would presumably prefer to bring him back for just one while top catching prospect Sean Murphy continues developing at the Triple-A level.

"We'll talk about that more in detail," Forst said. "Jed and Luc were huge in what we did. Jed had an incredible year. At 34 years old, to have the offensive season he did and to set such a great example for the rest of the lineup, and Luc changed the pitching staff the day he got there in Spring Training. He made an impact right away."
Forst said it's "too soon" to talk specifics of the team's offseason agenda and spending opportunities, but the starting rotation -- a glaring weakness following a slew of injuries -- will undoubtedly demand attention. It's unclear if the A's will entertain resigning any of the veteran starters facing free agency (Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson), but Forst left no room for guessing when asked about another potential rotation candidate for 2019: top prospect Jesus Luzardo.
"I think Jesus is going to come into Spring Training and be a factor," Forst said. "I don't think we have to hide that. He had an incredible year."
Melvin will be leading the charge yet again, and the A's expect him to be around well after his current contract expires at the end of 2019. Another two-year deal will likely be on the table for the lauded skipper, who is a favorite to land his third Manager of the Year award this year. He won the honor with the A's in 2012.
"Bob is one of the best in the game, and he's perfect for us," Beane said. "The idea is that he's here for a long time and the rest of his career. We just got home from New York last night, but our feeling is that Bob is the right guy for this club and he should be going forward. It's another question we hope to have answered in the offseason. He's been phenomenal."
Worth Noting
• Pitching prospect James Kaprielian, on the mend from injury, threw in an instructional league game Friday, per Forst. Daulton Jefferies is also pitching in Arizona, post-Tommy John surgery, while Grant Holmes has been shut down to have his right shoulder reexamined.

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