A's offseason reshaping to hit Winter Meetings
OAKLAND -- The A's will soon take their offseason agenda to Nashville, Tenn., where roster construction will continue under the bright lights of baseball's annual Winter Meetings.
Often a breeding ground for forthcoming transactions, other times the site of a flurry of transactions -- the A's used this period last year to deal Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija -- the Winter Meetings promise no shortage of action.
They're scheduled to run Monday through Thursday.
The A's will do their part by furthering their search for bullpen help, after carrying the highest bullpen ERA (4.63) in the American League last season. Already they've added right-hander Liam Hendriks to the mix, solidifying a core headed by closer Sean Doolittle, as well as lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski, acquired from the Padres on Wednesday. But several more spots remain open, and the A's will look to fill them through free agency or trade.
Oakland general manager David Forst emphasized that on the day Hendriks was acquired, noting payroll won't stand in the way.
"We've got room to spend," Forst said. "We've just got to find the right guys."
All the while, Forst and Co. are expected to remain busy trying to clear a logjam in the infield, currently home to a handful of players who can play all over: Danny Valencia, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien, Jed Lowrie and Eric Sogard.
Lowrie, reacquired in a trade with the Astros last week, is expected to play on an everyday basis. Which position he frequents most, though, could be decided by the A's willingness to part with either Lawrie or Valencia. Lawrie, according to sources, has already been shopped and is the more likely of the two to be dealt. He'll be just 26 when the 2016 season opens. Valencia recently turned 31.
The A's are seemingly set elsewhere but could look to incrementally upgrade in other areas, as they did at first base with the addition of Yonder Alonso in a trade with the Padres. That could extend to the rotation and outfield, where a true fourth outfielder could act as greater insurance than the players, including Jake Smolinski and Sam Fuld, that currently are on Oakland's roster.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 8 a.m. PT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 7 a.m. PT.