Notes: Oakland needs to refrain from breaking up the band

<p>Jul 19, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (22) reacts after hitting a grand slam home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports</p>

Jul 19, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics right fielder Josh Reddick (22) reacts after hitting a grand slam home run against the Minnesota Twins during the fifth inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Here's an idea for the Athletics, a relatively radical idea considering the team's history of trading its best players:

Keep the core together.

Sign right fielder Josh Reddick long-term, and do not trade right-hander Sonny Gray, catcher Steven Vogt and reliever Sean Doolittle.

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Oh, Billy Beane could still have his usual deadline fun, moving left-hander Rich Hill (if healthy), third baseman Danny Valencia and reliever John Axford, perhaps even closer Ryan Madson if some team will overpay, maybe a few others.

But it's time for the Athletics to commit to a direction, going all-in with their veterans who matter most, and allowing that group to serve as a foundation while the team's next wave of prospects emerges.

The A's live in no-man's land. They have no idea if and when they are getting a new ballpark. And while Beane, to his credit, is too competitive to tear down his roster, he's spinning his wheels with veterans such as Billy Butler and Jed Lowrie.

Beane's first step should be to extend Reddick, a potential free agent who actually is open to staying in Oakland, given his status as the team's biggest offensive star.

Reddick, 29, wants four years and the Athletics prefer three, according to sources. And while the difference in dollars might be substantial -- the A's are talking three years for $36 million, one source suggests, and Reddick wants four for $60 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle - it should not be insurmountable, even for a low-revenue club.

No such extensions are necessary with Gray and Vogt, both of whom are under control through 2019. And Doolittle, averaging a career-high 94.8 mph with his fastball, is signed at below-market salaries through '19 with a club option for '20.

The Athletics are drawing trade interest in Doolittle, sources says, and the demand for him will rise even higher if the Yankees refuse to trade their own left-handed relievers, Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller. But a future bullpen anchored by Doolittle and right-handers Madson and Ryan Dull could be formidable.

Injuries already have forced the A's to promote a number of young starting pitchers with varying degrees of promise. The team also has young hitters coming -- third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Franklin Barreto, first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson, etc.

Commit to those players. Commit to the right veterans. Settle on a direction, and go from there.


Yankees president Randy Levine downplayed suggestions that the team might become a seller on Monday, telling reporters, "I don't pay any attention to any of that ... (We have) a lot of confidence in our baseball operations people. So, we'll see what happens. All the rest is just noise."

Fair enough; the Yankees certainly do not need to decide anything yet. But if business considerations persuaded the team to reconsider its relationship with StubHub, which became the Yankees' official fan-to-fan ticket resale marketplace on Monday, might such concerns enter into trade decisions, too?

The Yankees' average home attendance after 37 home dates is 38,313 -- fifth in the majors, but down nearly 1,800 per game from the same point last season and more than 8,000 per game from 2010, when the team was defending World Series champions.

The average likely would fall even lower if the Yankees traded off Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and others, but think about it this way: What would be the average be next season if the Yankees stayed relatively intact?

The departures of first baseman Mark Teixeira and right fielder Carlos Beltran would increase payroll flexibility, but the free-agent market is thin and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (who can opt out of his deal with the Mets) likely will be the only hitter available who would be big box office. The rest of the offense essentially would be the same, only a year older, and the rotation would remain full of questions.

True, the Yankees could mix in catcher Gary Sanchez and maybe right fielder Aaron Judge, who is coming on at Triple A. But trading Chapman and/or Miller, plus Beltran, might be the best way to inject some sizzle.

For Miller, who is signed through 2018, the Yankees could hold out for premium talent -- say, a Jurickson Profar from the Rangers, a Jeimer Candelario from the Cubs, a young Dodgers arm not named Julio Urias. Chapman and Beltran, even as rentals, could bring strong returns. And the Yankees, if they chose, could re-sign Chapman as a free agent during the off-season without losing a draft pick.

The upside for the current club is probably only a wild-card berth, and even that goal will be difficult to attain considering that the Yankees have been over .500 for only two days since April 13.

The team's schedule leading to the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline will not make things any easier --€“ only six of the Yankees' 29 games before that date are against teams that currently have losing records.


Since losing ace right-hander Felix Hernandez on May 27, the Mariners' rotation has gone five innings or less in 17 of 29 games. Injuries to left-hander Wade Miley and righty Taijuan Walker only have exacerbated the problem.

The Mariners, not surprisingly, are 10-19 without Hernandez while getting outscored by a mere 154-148 -- a testament to the strength of their offense. Their bullpen, in the words of general manager Jerry Dipoto, has been "beaten to death.

Well, Miley is coming off the DL on Wednesday and Walker will pitch for the first time in 10 days on Thursday. Hernandez, recovering from a right calf strain, could begin a rehabilitation assignment around the All-Star break and rejoin the team shortly thereafter.

"I don't know if we can trade for three starting pitchers better than the ones we have, and our bullpen was perfectly productive before we started killing them," Dipoto said. "I do believe we have the pieces on hand to get where we were a month ago."

The Mariners, who led the AL West by 1½ games at the time of Hernandez's injury, have since fallen 11 games back. They are just 2½ games behind in the race for the second wild card, but it is not out of the question that they could become sellers if their slide continues.

First baseman Adam Lind and right-handed setup man Joaquin Benoit are potential free agents. Outfielder Seth Smith and catcher Chris Iannetta have club options for 2017. Closer Steve Cishek is under contract through '17.