First things first: The Oakland Athletics do not plan to trade third baseman Josh Donaldson, according to major-league sources.
The A’s would listen if teams inquired on pitchers such as right-hander Jeff Samardzija and lefty Scott Kazmir. However, they will not shop either and are adamant about keeping Donaldson, who is under club control for four more years, sources say.
As always, the Athletics are realistic about their ability to compete long term. They also know that the AL West is only getting stronger.
General manager Billy Beane hates getting caught in the middle, hates being mediocre. Rival executives speculated that he could seek to retool after the Athletics’ stunning 9-8 defeat to the Royals in the American League Wild Card Game. But according to sources, Beane believes that a fourth straight postseason appearance for the A’s is not out of reach.
Thus, his decision to go forward with Donaldson, who projects to make $4.5 million in the first of his four years of arbitration, according to Matt Swartz of MLBTradeRumors.com.
The futures of Samardzija and Kazmir in Oakland are less secure; both are eligible for free agency at the end of next season. Those two plus righty Sonny Gray would give the Athletics a strong Opening Day rotation. Beane could see how the team plays, then make a decision at the July 31 non-waiver deadline on how to proceed.
The free-agent and trade markets currently are flooded with starting pitchers, reducing the chances of the Athletics getting a big return for Samardizja or Kazmir.
The supply will be considerably smaller at the deadline, and the A’s will have a better idea about righties Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, who are expected to return from their respective elbow surgeries in the opening months of the season.
The A’s also could keep Samardzija and Kazmir and extend them qualifying offers at the end of next season, ensuring that they will receive draft-pick compensation if either or both depart.
In any case, the A’s figure to add rather than subtract in the coming months, then reassess. They’re not trading Donaldson. They’re not shopping Samardzija and Kazmir.
At least for the moment, they’re trying to rebound.