The goal set by the A’s back in Spring Training to win a World Series was met with surprise by some outside of the organization. Halfway through the season, that dream is looking more like it could come true.
The first step in achieving that goal was to overtake the Astros in the American League West. The A's have done that to this point, holding the best record in the AL and sole possession of first place in the division for a 23rd consecutive day following Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Rangers.
The A’s bullpen has been dominant, perhaps even better than they expected. Led by closer Liam Hendriks, Oakland has the lowest bullpen ERA in the AL. The A's have also learned that their offense is potent. A’s hitters may not have a great batting average, but they’ve come up with timely hits and rank near the top of the league in power categories.
So with Monday's 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline looming, the A’s are all in on making a run at a championship.
An important wrinkle to this year’s Trade Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big league team or the alternate site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.
There is no doubt the A’s are in the market to buy this season. Entering Spring Training with visions of contending for a World Series title, they have only strengthened those hopes with a strong first half.
What they want
With a potent offense and bullpen that leads the AL in ERA, most of the trade talks involving the A’s are likely to center around starting pitching. Their starters have been shaky at times, struggling to pitch into the late innings on a consistent basis. Ideally, the A’s would like to find a veteran starter who can give a quality six or seven innings each time out. Lance Lynn, the Rangers’ ace who has given the A’s troubles this season, comes to mind as the type of pitcher who could be the missing piece in Oakland.
What they have to offer
The A’s have several prospects who are Major League-ready. They possess a strong depth of starting-pitching talent, with right-handers Daulton Jefferies (No. 9 A's prospect), James Kaprielian (No. 13) and Grant Holmes (No. 17) leading the way as they knock on the door of a big league callup. Versatile infielder Sheldon Neuse (No. 7) also figures to garner plenty of interest after his strong season at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2019. The A’s aren’t likely to take on a big contract, so these chips could be used in exchange for another team eating up money on a potentially expensive contract.
Chance of a deal
30 percent. Talks may heat up in the final days before the Deadline, leading to this percentage going up, but there is a feeling in Oakland that this group of players is good enough to make a deep run in the postseason as currently constructed.