The absence of the Winter Meetings over the past two offseasons certainly had an effect on the A’s.
In previous years, the A’s have utilized the event as an opportunity to lay the foundation for future moves. Now working with more of a normal offseason again, A’s general manager David Forst has indicated discussions both on the trade and free-agent fronts are already underway as they seek to make improvements upon what was only the second 100-loss season in Oakland history.
With the Winter Meetings getting underway on Sunday in San Diego, here is everything you need to know.
• Sunday, Dec. 4: HOF Contemporary Era Ballot results released (Albert Belle, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling)
• Monday, Dec. 5: All-MLB Team announced
• Tuesday, Dec. 6: Inaugural Draft Lottery, AL/NL Relievers of Year announced
• Wednesday, Dec. 7: Rule 5 Draft
Coming off a 102-loss season, the A’s could use an upgrade in several areas. Topping the list of needs is improving an offense that ranked last in the Majors in most statistical categories. The corner infield spots are positions that the A’s are still looking to fill with a more permanent solution, especially at first base, a spot that saw the club utilize 12 different players throughout 2022.
Potential trade candidates
Sean Murphy has been a subject of trade discussions dating back to last offseason, when the A’s entered a rebuild after trading away several stars for prospects. While there is no rush to deal Murphy -- who is under team control through the 2025 season -- the emergence of their former top prospect, Shea Langeliers, last season could make Murphy a tradable asset who can bring in a haul of players to help address several of Oakland’s needs. If no team is willing to give up such a haul, the A’s will have no issues entering the season with a strong catching duo of Murphy and Langeliers.
Prospects to know
Prior to the A’s run of three straight postseason appearances from 2018-20, the 2017 season provided a glimpse of what was coming -- with Matt Chapman and Matt Olson coming up from the Minors to establish themselves as big leaguers and eventual stars. Six years later, could the A’s have their next dynamic duo with prospects Tyler Soderstrom and Zack Gelof?
With both having finished the 2022 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, Soderstrom and Gelof are right on the doorstep of their first Major League callups. Drafted as a catcher, Soderstrom has slowly been taking on more work at first base over the past year, while Gelof, originally drafted as a third baseman, played solely at second base during the Arizona Fall League. Whatever positions await them in Oakland, the two stand a strong chance of reaching the big leagues at some point in 2023 with high expectations as potential future cornerstones of the franchise.
Rule 5 Draft
Colin Peluse, Oakland’s No. 24 prospect, is exposed in this year’s Rule 5 Draft. The right-hander appeared in a combined 24 games (22 starts) for Double-A Midland and Triple-A Las Vegas, posting a 5.83 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings. Seeking out extra work in the Fall League, Peluse fared well by posting a 1.50 ERA over 18 innings for the Mesa Solar Sox. Though he’s only pitched in one game above Double-A, Peluse’s power arm could make him attractive to clubs in need of pitching. Another notable name available to draft is infielder Logan Davidson, the club’s No. 19 prospect and its first-round Draft pick in 2019.
The A’s have been quite active in making Rule 5 selections over the past several years, and there’s a high likelihood of continuing that trend as they hold the second pick this year. An intriguing name on the position player side is Pirates prospect Malcom Nunez, a first baseman/third baseman who hit 23 home runs with an .833 OPS across 119 games at Double-A and Triple-A last season. On the pitching side, Astros prospect Jayden Murray, a right-hander who posted a 3.50 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 108 innings across Double-A and Triple-A, is likely to be selected early.
Will Murphy get traded this offseason? Following a strong campaign in which he ended up a finalist for the American League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, Murphy’s value is quite high at the moment, and there are several clubs who continue to check with the A’s on his availability. Perhaps those talks will begin to intensify during the Winter Meetings.