The Oakland A’s have experienced an unpredictable offseason. GM Billy Beane has completed a franchise overhaul in trading Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija and Derek Norris. Despite these departures, Oakland’s pitching staff remains dependable and Beane has funds to sign a free agent or maneuver a trade. In light of this possibility, here are three sensible trade candidates for the A’s.
Craig’s been a dangerous and productive hitter in all his seasons aside from a dismal 2014. In his stint with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox last year, he belted just eight home runs and had 46 RBIs. From 2011 to 2013 though, he hit .315, .307 and .315. He knocked in 92 runners in 2012 and 97 in 2013. Beane could buy low and likely give up a fringe prospect or two in exchange for someone crowding Boston’s busy outfield. Oakland has an opening in left field and Craig can also play first base. As a usually reliable hitter with position versatility, Craig gels with Oakland’s mold.
Rumors of the Tampa Bay Rays trading Zobrist have been prevalent. Entering a contract year in 2015, the dynamic middle infielder would be a perfect player for Beane and company. He’d immediately replace the ineffectual Eric Sogard as the everyday second baseman. If Marcus Semien struggles at the shortstop position, Zobrist could be shifted there. His defensive capabilities suit various roles. At the plate, the 33-year-old hit .272 in 2014 and had 10 home runs. More importantly, he rocked a .354 on-base percentage, the same as his career number in that category.
Oakland has a new third baseman in Brett Lawrie, the prize of the Donaldson trade, so why would they benefit from another one in Johnson? Because Lawrie can also play second and this move would eliminate the absence of production provided by Sogard. Johnson only has a .319 career on-base percentage and had a down year in 2014. Nevertheless, he’s under contract for three more years with a .283 career batting average. The Atlanta Braves are looking to retool and acquire young talent. Oakland has an excess of pitching. Parting with a piece for Johnson might be wise.