The 2015 Oakland Athletics continued to dismantle this week, sending utility fielder Ben Zobrist to the Kansas City Royals for pitching prospects Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea today. This follows last Thursday’s trade of Scott Kazmir to the Houston Astros and yesterday’s trade of Tyler Clippard to the New York Mets. Overall, the A’s have collected five minor-league players in the three trades as they try to rebuild their farm system from last year’s summer deadline trades.
Zobrist made 33 starts at second base for Oakland in 2015, as well as 24 in left field, four at designated hitter and two in right field. He did not commit an error in 34 games overall at second base, which is where the Royals will likely play him as they chase a second consecutive American League pennant. Zobrist was one of the most sought-after trade targets on the market this week.
As for the players the A’s acquired, the right-handed Brooks has spent most of the season at Triple-A Omaha where he posted a 6-5 record with a 3.71 ERA in 18 games, including 17 starts. He was the Royals’ ninth round pick in the 2011 draft and is 0-1 with a 20.57 ERA in four career appearances with Kansas City. Meanwhile, the left-handed Manaea began the season in extended spring training and went a combined 1-1 with a 3.69 ERA in seven starts with the Royals affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League, Single-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas. He was selected by the Royals in the Competitive Balance round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and was rated as the Royals third best prospect by Baseball America prior to the season.
Oakland is 44-56 right now, losers of four straight since the Kazmir traded signaled the surrender of the season. The A’s 10-24 mark in one-run games this year severely undermined their attempts to make the postseason for a fourth straight season. The team had one of the top offenses in MLB and one of the top starting staffs, but a leaky bullpen cost Oakland too many games in the first two months of the season. General Manager Billy Beane decided it was time last week to cash in his chips and play for 2016 and beyond.
The A’s are in Los Angeles tonight to face the Dodgers for two games, and they then return to the O.co Coliseum on Thursday for a 10-game home stand, starting with a four-game set against Cleveland (followed by Baltimore for three games and Houston for four games). At this point, Oakland is a dead team walking, of course, and Beane’s proper yet frustrating surrender of the season will surely take its toll on paid attendance and clubhouse morale.
He may not be done yet, either: Relief pitcher Edward Mujica has postseason experience and should be valued by many other clubs. It’s also possible right fielder Josh Reddick could go as well, if Beane decides the team is playing for 2017 instead of next year. Reddick has one more year of arbitration/club control before he hits the free-agent market, and he is one of the best RFs in the game right now when you combine offense and defense.