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The 411 On Potential Cubs Trade Partners: Athletics

Oakland showed a willingness to deal last offseason, trading prospects for immediate help. Will Billy Beane open up the farm system again to improve his team? Also, why is there an ' after the A in A's?

Ken Harrelson would punch Billy Beane if he could. Which makes Billy Beane pretty awesome in my book.
Ken Harrelson would punch Billy Beane if he could. Which makes Billy Beane pretty awesome in my book.
Leon Halip

Postseason Outlook

The Athletics are half a game back in the AL West and tied for the wild card lead. The Rangers aren't going anywhere and neither are the AL East teams in the wild card race, so the A's figure to be in a battle the rest of the way for a playoff spot.

Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)

Starting pitching-High: While stats show Oakland to be pretty middle of the road when it comes to their starting pitching performance, the problem for them is a lack of top end guys. Bartolo Colon has been very good, but he could be suspended as part of the BioGenesis case. The rest of their starters are a big pile of meh. They need a top of the rotation starter if they're serious about making the playoffs and advancing.

Catcher-Low: John Jaso and Derek Norris have split time here, with Jaso providing more offense. Jaso has been banged up, but he should start to see more time once he gets healthy. They could upgrade here, but this is one position where lots of teams can put up with bad offense.

Second Base-High: Whether it's been Eric Sogard or Adam Rosales at second for the A's, it hasn't really mattered. Both of them have been terrible offensively. The A's do have an internal option in Grant Green, who is hitting well at Triple-A, but if they don't choose that option, they could use an upgrade here.

Right Field- Low: Despite some hype last year, Josh Reddick was just kind of OK. This year, he's gone backwards, putting up a .633 OPS. Oakland does have Chris Young as a backup outfielder, but he hasn't been great this year either. I'd expect the Athletics to stick with Reddick until the deadline before deciding if they need to make a move.

Fits on the Cub Roster

Matt Garza and Scott Feldman are both great fits for Oakland's needs in the rotation. Carlos Villanueva probably makes a little less sense because the A's don't really need bullpen help. Darwin Barney or Luis Valbuena could be a solution to the problem Oakland has at second base. If the A's decide to look elsewhere for help in right field, both David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz could help. The Cubs could also offer Dioner Navarro to fix some of the problems Oakland is having behind the plate.

What's in it for the Cubs?

BA Top 10 Athletics Prospects

Sickels' Top 20 Athletics Prospects

Fangraphs' Top 15 Athletics Prospects Top 20 Athletics Prospects

Ranked the 25th-best organization for talent by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, there isn't a whole lot of high end talent here outside of Addison Russell (likely unavailable). Dan Straily graduated to the big leagues for good this year, but he's struggled so far (5.00 ERA). Straily seems to project as a middle of the rotation starter and could slide immediately into a big league rotation. Sonny Gray is another interesting pitcher who is close to major league ready. He's a Vanderbilt grad, so he has a relationship with Cubs minor-league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson. He struggled last year at Double-A, posting a 4.14 ERA, but he's bounced back so far and posted a 2.85 ERA in Triple-A this year. Some aren't as high on him because of his size (under 6 feet), but he throws a good fastball and curveball and a developing change.

Michael Choice seems to project as a three-true-outcome left fielder (HR, BB, K) and he's had a solid year so far in triple-A (.835 OPS). There are questions about his ability to make contact and hit breaking balls, but people seem to love his bat speed and raw power. As mentioned above, Grant Green is a major league ready second baseman that is hitting well at Triple-A (.869 OPS). He's 25 and his skills at second are questionable, but he does have the ability to play the outfield as well. Miles Head, Daniel Robertson and Renato Nunez are a trio of good third base prospects for Oakland. There are questions of whether Head can stay at third and there are questions of whether Robertson can should stay at shortstop. Nunez is performing the best of the three, with an .811 OPS at Low-A as a 19-year-old.

Who Says No?

Matt Garza for Sonny Gray and Raul Alcantara

Luis Valbuena for BJ Boyd

Overall Fit- Low

Oakland desperately needs top end starting pitching, but they don't have a whole lot of quality to acquire it, particularly starting pitching prospects. If they want Matt Garza, one of Straily and Gray almost have to be included. A move for a second baseman seems unlikely due to Grant Green's presence at Triple-A.

Next Up: Los Angeles Angels