A's go to Meetings with Major work nearly done
Minor League system could use boost; lefty Anderson still a trade candidate
OAKLAND -- A's officials will head to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Sunday night for the annual Winter Meetings with a short to-do list, the bulk of their offseason work already completed in recent days.
Oakland entered the offseason in need of replacements for All-Stars Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour, and the club took care of both this week, via a two-year deal for lefty starter Scott Kazmir and a trade for closer Jim Johnson.
The A's further strengthened their bullpen by acquiring setup man Luke Gregerson from the Padres, losing outfielder Seth Smith in the deal. Smith was expendable, in part because of the club's acquisition of speedy outfielder Craig Gentry -- who also helps make up for the loss of Chris Young -- from the Rangers just hours earlier.
The A's also bulked up their infield last month by coming to terms on a two-year deal with veteran Nick Punto, so at this point, it's more notable what the team doesn't need as opposed to what it does.
Here is a quick glance at their situation heading into the Winter Meetings, which return to the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort this year.
Organizational depth: With their Major League roster essentially set for 2014, the A's may now seek to add depth to their Minor League system -- in particular, help in the infield and behind the plate, and perhaps on the mound -- by trading Brett Anderson.
Who they can trade if necessary
LHP Brett Anderson: This isn't exactly breaking news. Anderson has long been rumored to be involved in several trade talks, and the addition of Kazmir to the rotation has only further amplified the notion that the southpaw will be moved this winter. Injuries have plagued much of Anderson's career, but he's still just 25 and has posted a 3.81 ERA over five seasons, when healthy. He's set to make $8 million in 2014, and the A's are targeting good prospects in return.
The A's Top 10 prospects, per MLB.com and not in any order, are shortstop Addison Russell, pitchers Michael Ynoa, Raul Alcantara, and Nolan Sanburn, third basemen Renato Nunez, Daniel Robertson and Miles Head, first baseman Matthew Olson, and outfielders Billy McKinney and B.J. Boyd. That four of them are corner infielders reflects the club's focus to restore depth at these positions after many years without it.
Russell, who will turn 20 in January, is the jewel of the organization and also the closest of this bunch to being big league ready. He figures to start 2014 at Triple-A Sacramento but could end it in Oakland, and if all goes according to plan, he'll step in as the everyday shortstop in 2015 when Jed Lowrie departs as a free agent.
Most of Oakland's other top prospects will still be developing in the lower levels of the Minors next year, and rather than use any as trade bait, the A's are more likely looking to gain prospects via trade as opposed to lose them.
Rule 5 Draft
The A's 40-man roster is already full, so they're not currently in a position to make any picks in the Major League phase of the Draft. They've shied away from taking anyone in this phase in recent years, anyway.
Approximately $48 million will be spent on just five players: Kazmir, Anderson, Johnson, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp. Add in Alberto Callaspo's $4.875 million salary and another $20 million expected to account for the club's nine arbitration-eligible players, and the A's are already looking at a payroll above $70 million -- not even including all those players who will be making close to the minimum. That's far above the 2013 payroll that barely surpassed $60 million.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.