Anyone who has paid enough attention to Major League Baseball over the last 15 years knows that when it comes to dealing with Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, you have to expect the unexpected. This is a club that traded away Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey and Trevor Cahill last offseason for little more than high-end prospects who might pan out in a year or two and then turned that into a 90-plus win season, an AL West Division title and a trip to the playoffs when many expected them to compete for the worst record in baseball.
They also traded their subpar-hitting but admittedly reasonable-fielding shortstop Cliff Pennington to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a deal to acquire Chris Young back in October. This was odd because it made one of their weakest positions the definite weakest and it added a talented player at one of two positions–outfielder–where they are already in good shape. This has since led to Jonny Gomes signing elsewhere, but this was not unexpected and doesn’t change their makeup much, so it leaves you wondering what else Beane has up his sleeve because the A’s currently have no viable options at shortstop.
The A’s know how weak the free-agent shortstop market is outside of Stephen Drew and maybe one or two others. They will likely make a competitive offer for Drew, hoping that his time in Oakland this past season will encourage him to want to stay, but he is a Scott Boras client and Oakland tends not to deal with Boras clients, especially when bidding wars are involved. That is likely to be the case here, so Oakland can’t reasonably expect to sign him.
This leaves a glaring hole at short that seemingly will have to be filled from the bargain bin somewhere, but the question is: who will they settle for? Outside of them suddenly changing their minds about moving prospect Grant Green to the outfield because his shortstop skills were lacking, there isn’t really anyone else who can play short for them. Adam Rosales? Next, please. Eric Sogard? Yikes. We already know that between Rosales, Josh Donaldson and Scott Sizemore, a never-ending game of musical chairs will likely be played at second and third base this season (unless Jemile Weeks suddenly regains the form he had as a stellar September call-up in 2011), but the A’s might not have much choice but to stand pat with that mix of players and toss in Rosales and Sogard at short as well just to make this patchwork infield work.
Could Beane trade for the Cleveland Indians‘ Asdrubal Cabrera if he can’t re-sign Drew? Of course he could. Whether he will or not is another matter, however, because Beane does more with less than just about anyone in baseball and has been doing it for years, so if he can’t get one of those two guys, then he might very well be content to play PlatoonBall this year and see what happens.