With the almost gunslinger-like mentality of the Oakland A’s front office, every trade deadline is a whirlwind for fans clad in green and gold. This year is no different and A’s fans are once again left with their hands out trying to find some semblance of rhyme or reason to their team’s transactions.
It’s important to note that in a vacuum, this deal makes all of the sense for the A’s. They’re a bad team that failed to live up to the many baseball predictions made around the mediasphere, they’re out of the playoff hunt and had two quality players that were due to be free agents next year. Trading Josh Reddick and Rich Hill was the correct move.
In return, Oakland snagged a trio of pitching prospects in Grant Holmes, Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas. Holmes is just 20, Cotton is 24 and Montas is 23. Holmes has gotten as far as high-A, Cotton has spent this season in AAA, while Montas saw some Major League time with the White Sox a season ago.
That’s a good haul for two guys that might not even be on the team come next spring. A’s fans should probably be excited. Of course, there’s the natural sadness of seeing two players leave town, but in all, this looks like a good deal for the A’s. None of the three are top prospects, but it gives Oakland something to work with moving forward. It gives the team a stock of young arms who could theoretically be crucial to a rebuild. ‘Theoretically’ being the operative word there.
The reason this move leaves such a bad taste in A’s fans mouths is because there is no glimmer of hope for a rebuild. There’s no history to trace with this front office that fans can look at and say, “we know where this is going. The future is exciting.”
Instead, fans will grimace thinking about the future because the only thing to trace back on is a circle. This never-ending vicious cycle of player gets good and thus, too expensive. Before player is too expensive, they’re traded for prospects. Those prospects either don’t produce – or worse – produce and get shipped out before they get too expensive.
This isn’t a rebuilding process, it’s a languid attempt at catching lightning in a bottle. It’s an attempt to combine just enough young talent with just enough cheap veterans that will adequately produce and somehow turn Oakland into a winner.
It happened in 2012. It happened in 2013. It happened in 2014. But then the detonator was hit; Josh Donaldson was sent to Toronto for prospects, Yoenis Cespedes was already traded for Jon Lester who was never going to re-sign in the East Bay. Jeff Samardzija was sent to the White Sox for more young pieces. And so on and so forth until the end of eternity.
This time, the batch of young talent is not very good. Oakland is back to looking like they’re going to toil in mediocrity until the front office finally has lightning strike inside the bottle they’ve been running around aimlessly with. Finger-crossing with lots of wishing is the new market inefficiency.
Never mind the emotional toll it takes having players traded, it’s just exhausting. The slog of a 162-game season is even worse when your favorite team is destined to lose 90 or more games. It becomes even more exasperating when you know there isn’t hope for any big free agent splashes in the coming offseason. The frustration mounts when any significant offseason move will likely mean the dispatching of prospects or another fan favorite. Combine all of that with the fact Oakland hasn’t won a playoff game after the first round since the 1989 World Series, and it becomes an utterly soul-crushing experience.
The A’s had a chance to sign Reddick to an extension and whiffed. Come this offseason, they’ll likely get priced out of Hill in free agency. So Oakland fans are left at square one, wearing jerseys of players who have gone on to success with other teams, and wondering when the vicious cycle will stop.
Until that cycle stops, some of the most passionate fans in Major League Baseball will be left helpless, hoping that next year will be the one lightning happens to crack and wind up in Oakland’s bottle.
Experiment 626. Coffee drinker and cat enthusiast. Pro-avocado. Anti-sac bunt. Habitual bat flipper. Alex Smith apologist. Yoenis Cespedes fanboy.