One rival executive raised an interesting possibility in the aftermath of the Athletics’ stunning 9-8 loss to the Royals in the American League wild-card game:
Trade right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
Another rival exec, knowing how Beane never likes to get caught in between, speculated that the Athletics’ GM might trade third baseman Josh Donaldson, too.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. But Beane acquired Samardzija with the idea that the A’s would be strong again next year. Now that prospect looks iffy, and Beane might at least consider going in reverse.
Samardzija, a free agent after next season, would be one of the best starting pitchers available in trade. Donaldson, under club control for four more seasons, would be a dramatic entry into a market starved for offense.
And it’s not as if the Athletics’ immediate outlook is so bright.
The A’s will not receive draft-pick compensation for left-hander Jon Lester and righty Jason Hammel, who are exempt from qualifying offers after getting traded at midseason.
They have a clear hole at shortstop; Jed Lowrie, a potential free agent, proved again Tuesday night that he is an inadequate defender.
They also need a catcher, unless they again want to commit significant time to Derek Norris, who allowed six of the seven Royals’ stolen bases and dropped a pitchout in the decisive 12th inning.
Catcher Geovany Soto, infielder Alberto Callaspo and reliever Luke Gregerson are free agents. The offense collapsed in the second half, though Brandon Moss did revive with two homers Tuesday night. And the Athletics’ AL West rivals – the Angels, Mariners, Rangers and Astros – all could improve.
Trading Donaldson might be unnecessary, considering that he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time and could remain with the club through 2018. Beane also could wait until the next non-waiver deadline to move Samardzija and/or lefty Scott Kazmir, who also is a free agent after next season.
That way, Beane could give the A’s a chance to compete, knowing that righties Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin could return from their respective Tommy John surgeries in the second half. It would not be an unreasonable approach. In fact, it is the approach most teams would take.
One thing about Beane, though: He rarely sits still.