NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The A's appear to be casting a wide net in their search for a center fielder, while also looking to add security at second base as they attempt to piece together a club that's more than a season away from contending.
Less than 24 hours after arriving at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center for the Winter Meetings, A's vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane told reporters in the club's suite on Tuesday night, "I wouldn't say anything's imminent right now."
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Beane and Co. continue to assess both trade and short-term free-agent options in their hunt for a center fielder, which remains their No. 1 priority. "We can't be choosy," Beane said, which points to a long list of possibilities that range in age and skill set.
It would make sense for the A's to prioritize defense, a deficiency last season, and they're also in need of a leadoff man; getting both in one player would be ideal, and Kansas City's Jarrod Dyson fits this mold. Sources confirmed to MLB.com on Tuesday evening that the A's are in on trade discussions for the speedy outfielder, but a deal wasn't thought to be close.
Dyson would come relatively cheap, at a projected $2.5 million for 2017, and it was already clear after Beane's media session that the club won't be overpaying for an outfielder.
Beane said A's majority owner John Fisher and his team "would be willing to move the payroll up this year," but Beane cast reason to wait, believing it best the organization focuses its resources on bettering inside operations, including expanding the scouting department.
"If I personally felt there were one or two players to where, hey, this puts us [in position to contend], I think we'd have full support with the Major League payroll," Beane said. "I'm not quite sure we're ready, so I think maybe some of that investment is better served in building out the operation. It's not because ownership hasn't given us the ability to consider some of those possibilities. I just don't think we're one player away yet, so I would rather use this as an opportunity to improve things internally that have needed it for a long time."
Beane, though, is confident in the club's ballpark situation -- "I very much see a sense of urgency on trying to secure a venue in Oakland," he said -- and thus he's committed to forming a core of young players that will be ready to contend when the ribbon is cut and enjoy sustainable success.
This approach will likely preclude Beane from trading most of the young talent on his roster, which he alluded to Tuesday.
"I think we have to listen and consider everything," he said, "except what we would like to do longterm as much as possible, is hold on to the group of our younger players that are just now starting to get to the Major Leagues."
Right-hander Sonny Gray, who has drawn trade interest, doesn't fall under this banner, but Beane noted, "We didn't come down here with the idea to trade Sonny Gray. That wasn't on our to-do list."
That the A's to-do list does include a second-base upgrade points to their hesitation in both Jed Lowrie's health and Joey Wendle's abilities to handle the everyday role after enjoying a short but sweet September with the club. Lowrie, who underwent foot surgery at the end of August, is expected to be ready for Spring Training, but the A's must be mindful of a backup plan.
Elsewhere, they'd ideally like to add a veteran arm to their baby-faced rotation, but would also "feel OK," Beane added, if they entered the season with the group of guys they already have in tow. Their rotation depth, beyond the top trio of Gray, Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman, extends to Jharel Cotton, Andrew Triggs, Raúl Alcántara, Daniel Mengden, Dillon Overton and Frankie Montas, among others.
The A's foresee the majority of this crew being on hand when they open a new stadium.
"I would say right now, as much as any time," Beane said, "I feel a real internal momentum that they're trying to get something done in Oakland. I've got my hands tied trying to find a center fielder, but I can tell you there's a real commitment to trying to figure something out or at least find some solution for a venue."