With the MLB season coming to an end, it is time for the Oakland Athletics to focus on taking the next step to the World Series.
The A’s must now look to the off season, where building a quality team is crucial to success. They will first look at the players they want to retain.
Billy Beane has already indicated that Coco Crisp will have his option picked up, but which other A’s free agents should join him in the clubhouse next year?
Bartolo Colon: I’ll start with the obvious. Colon turned back the clock in a major way. He was hands down the best and most consistent starter on the A’s throughout the season. Yes, he is old, but pitchers have shown that they can last a long time. Bring him back.
Chris Young: It is unlikely that Chris Young will wear a Oakland Athletics uniform next year. He failed to live up to expectations, batting just .200. If the A’s pick up his option, they will pay him $11 million, and the A’s do not have money to waste. Yet, Young’s numbers do not tell the whole story. He hit the ball hard and often got unlucky with where the ball ended up. How often do you see someone get robbed of walk-off home runs in consecutive games? I have faith that Young, if re-signed, will be a significant contributor next year. Give him one more year to show his worth.
Grant Balfour: Grant Balfour was a big reason the Oakland Athletics were known around the league to have one of the best bullpens. He converted 38 saves, although if there was an award given out for most stressful situations created, Balfour would be among the front-runners. However, the fact remains that he was able to escape many of those situations unscathed. Thus, he would also win “Best shaky closer” award, no contest. Unfortunately, Balfour is in line to receive a big paycheck next season. Plus, the A’s have shown that closers are not number one on their priority list. I say bring him back, but the A’s may say otherwise.
This leaves Kurt Suzuki and Brett Anderson off my list. As much as I would hate to see Kurt Suzuki leave, there simply is not enough room on the roster for four catchers. Brett Anderson is a good pitcher, yet after so many injury riddled seasons, there really isn’t a justification for paying Anderson eight million dollars. The A’s should buy him out (for $1.5 million), let him go, and spend the $6.5 million elsewhere.
With few players likely leaving this off season, the A’s will look to field a team similar to this year’s squad. The front office needs only to make a couple good decisions this off season, and the Oakland Athletics will be sitting back in the playoffs this time next year.