Oakland Athletics: 3 Offseason Moves They Should Make

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Third move: Left Fielder

Sep 10, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Josh Willingham (7) hits a single in the fourth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

In free agency, there are many choices the A’s could work with in terms of left field. It’s just a matter of choosing the right one. The A’s need to find someone who is a true left-fielder and someone who can be a threat to base runners trying to advance on throws back to the infield.

However, there are not many traditional left fielders out there. Most left fielders now can play all three outfield positions or switch off between left field and first base. Also, most of the options for left field are not known for having strong arms. However, there are a couple of options that could act as a decent batting option in the lineup.

Defensively, in terms of holding runners and getting extra outs with strong throws from the outfield, the options are former A’s player Josh Willingham, Toronto Blue Jays Melky Cabrera and Miami Marlins left fielder Reed Johnson.

When playing left field, Willingham has 47 outfield assists and has been a part of 10 double plays in his career. When Willingham played for Oakland in 2011, he hit 29 home runs, with a batting average of .246, and collected 98 RBI’s. His numbers this past season would not reflect his potential with the bat, posting just a .215 average with 14 homers and 30 RBI’s.

Aug 20, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) cannot catch ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Mark Reynolds (not pictured) that fell for a double in the fourth inning at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cabrera can be both an offensive and defensive threat. However, he has been suspended for steroids a couple of times and dealt with a knee injury for the better part of last season. Despite missing time, Cabrera last season had a .301 batting average with 16 home runs and 73 RBI’s, with a career batting average of .286. Defensively, in Cabrera’s career, he has 39 outfield assists and made eight double plays when playing left.

Johnson has had better seasons offensively in his career than he did last season, but he has good defensive numbers with a .991 fielding percentage with 24 of his 53 total outfield assists when playing left field. Johnson has a career batting average of .280 but only batted .235 with two home runs and 25 RBI’s last year for Miami.

Oct 16, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants pinch hitter Michael Morse (38) hits a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the eighth inning of game five of the 2014 NLCS playoff at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The best option in terms of offensive production from a left fielder, other than Cabrera, is Michael Morse of the San Francisco Giants. Morse posted a .279 average with 16 home runs and 61 RBI’s in the regular season, and in the postseason, Morse came up with clutch hits as a pinch hitter that gave the World Champion left fielder a .300 batting average with one home run and five RBI’s.

After Morse, some other candidates include Ryan Ludwick, Chris Young (New York Yankees), Scott Hairston, and Ryan Doumit.

Ludwick is the best option of the four with a batting average of .244, nine home runs and 45 RBI’s last season. Defensively, Ludwick in his career playing left field has 13 outfield assists and three double plays.

Young, Harriston and Doumit all have batting averages less than .230 and have a marginal amount of outfield assists and double plays.

The A’s best option here is to go after Morse or Willingham. Both can give the team some spark on offense, but Willingham has a better defensive game than Morse. Also, both can act as a designated hitter if the A’s are unable to sign one this offseason.

What do you think the A’s biggest need is looking forward to next season?