Former Oakland Athletics Making Huge Contributions


For Oakland Athletics fans, it’s not uncommon to cheer for players no longer on the team.

There’s even an expectation that when players on the A’s start to perform well, you wonder how long they have before they are flipped for prospects. The same can be said in the reverse situation when top prospects who are creating a stir in the minors are traded for immediate big league to help increase a title shot. This is the fear of A’s fans everywhere- watching stars rise on the A’s only to see them vanish just as you start to get attached to them.

Oakland Athletics
Oakland Athletics /

Oakland Athletics

The play of a few former A’s this season is leaving A’s fans everywhere shaking their heads. More so than in past trades, these players are flashing longtime, superstar potential for contending teams. Here are a few players that A’s fans (and I’d hope A’s management) would love to have back:

Carlos Gonzalez: Sent off to the Colorado Rockies for Matt Holliday before the 2009 season, the A’s never got to see the fruits from Gonzalez’s ceiling. Although he hit only four homers in his rookie season with the A’s, his 22 doubles in 85 games was validation for his projected power. In the A’s spacious stadium, his gap power would at the bare minimum be a huge asset.

In 2010, Gonzalez had an MVP type season with 34 homers, 117 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases. After a few injury plagued seasons, he has returned to peak form this season and currently leads the National League in homers with 36.

Meanwhile, Holliday was shipped off midseason to the St. Louis Cardinals for then top prospect, Brett Wallace, and two minor leaguers. All three of those players were almost immediately shipped off in other trades, of which the A’s have basically nothing to show for currently.

Addison Russell: As the main piece in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Chicago Cubs, Russell was a blossoming top ten prospect in baseball for the A’s. He generated the most buzz for a middle infielder from the A’s system since former MVP, Miguel Tejada. Russell has struggled at times since his April call up but has contributed to the Cubs’ second half surge towards a likely Wild Card playoff berth.

The A’s have failed to find a legitimate middle infielder for quite some time now. Russell has proven that he does have some pop to his bat (13 HR’s) and plays solid defense. This trade could haunt the A’s even more so down the line as he develops, considering Samardzija was moved this past offseason and never even had a shot at pitching in the postseason for the A’s.

Yoenis Cespedes: Cespedes provided plenty of highlight reel plays in his two plus years with the A’s, dazzling fans with his laser throws and immense power. The worry with him was his looming contract negotiations for 2016, and he was dealt in a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox for ace, Jon Lester. It was a clear decision that general manager Billy Beane was prioritizing arms over bats in a gamble to chase a World Series title.

That gamble was understandable at the time, as Cespedes had struggled to get on base (sub .300 OBP for much of 2013 and 2014) and his in game power was somewhat inflated by his monster performances during the Home Run Derby. After all was said and done though, Lester could not call upon his postseason magic in last year’s Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals. Lester left as a free agent and the A’s were once again, left with nothing from that trade.

Cespedes has absolutely mashed the ball since his trade to the New York Mets from the Detroit Tigers, and he is springboarding them to their first playoff appearance since 2006. But hey, at least the A’s weren’t the only dummies to deal him.

Josh Donaldson: Has there been a better player this year than Donaldson? Hard to see anyone topping what he has accomplished in his first year with the Toronto Blue Jays. He ranks in the top five for home runs (37), runs batted in (115), runs (107), slugging (.591) and on base plus slugging (.963). Donaldson also ranks second in the league in Wins Above Replacement, at 7.8.

More from Oakland Athletics

Clearly, the Blue Jays win presently on this deal. Brett Lawrie and Kendall Graveman have had some bright spots this year, and Sean Nolin pitched admirably in his Major League debut this past weekend. Minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto will be the x-factor in the deal and arguably was who put this deal over the top for Beane.

Out of all these deals, the Donaldson trade hurts the most as he looks to be a legitimate MVP candidate for years to come. He has shown he is a durable, two-way player, and is just reaching his arbitration eligible years of his career.

The harsh reality of an Oakland Athletics player is you are never untouchable. If the A’s start off poorly next year, A’s fans will soon be lamenting the losses of Sonny Gray, Josh Reddick and Sean Doolittle.

Next: Oakland Athletics: Potential Free Agent Targets This Offseason