After a tumultuous few years of ‘will they or won’t they?’ – the new ownership of the A’s franchise made it official. This is the last year for the team in Oakland. A move to Las Vegas has been approved and stadium construction is well underway.
The new owner, Rob Demnow made his fortune in selling fleece-wear throughout the midwest before striking it big nationally and expanding his empire throughout the world. He recently sold his stake and founded a new company dedicated to sweat wicking technology – and he bought the Oakland A’s for a rock bottom price (details are yet to be released).
He appointed a new General Manager, Hawk Blackstone to be lock step with his mantra – ‘Fleece them all!’.
Blackstone took over the operations on the eve of Spring Training and the moves were fast and furious. The first piece of business was getting a new sponsorship deal to help build the team’s revenue. He was able to get Adidas, 44, and Cooperstown Bat Co. to agree to each pay $30,000 per stolen base. That was the first sign that things were about to change in a huge way. $90,000 per stolen base suddenly turned heads.
When asked about the plan, Blackstone simply remarked ‘We are stealing money, legally… and metaphorically… and maybe literally?’ as the media in attendance chuckled along with his implied humorous remark, some wondered what was coming next.
The next was a complete demolition of what the old regime had ‘put together’. There were some players that Blackstone was happy to keep around, but he wanted to make a splash and show A’s fans that things were about to change.
First, he made numerous trades and brought in some big, yet unproven names.
He traded Aledmys Diaz and Tony Kemp to the Twins for Royce Lewis. Lewis was officially brought in as a 2B with his current secondaries intact.
Then came the trade of Ramon Laureano and Manny Pina to the Angels for Jo Adell, Mickey Moniak and Kevin Maitan. Adell and Moniak will stay in the outfield, but Maitain will rotate between 1B and 3B – as of the trade no team assignment was announced as to minors or majors.
The next moves involved getting Vidal Brujan and Taj Bradley from Tampa Bay for Jesus Aguilar, Drew Steckenrider and Devin Foyle. Followed by Acquiring Dylan Beavers from the Orioles for Conner Capel, Pablo Reyes, and Cody Thomas. Other players acquired include Thomas Saggese from Texas for Nick Allen and a couple minor leaguers and Deury Carrasco from Houston for Ryan Noda and Trenton Brooks.
The biggest trade was getting OF, James Wood from the Nationals for Trevor May, Brent Rooker and Jace Peterson. This wasn’t only because Wood is a huge potential player in a huge body, but because it was the first true fleecing of a team and possibly the system itself. The Nationals sent May and Peterson through waivers after the trade, figuring no one would put in a claim. Except, Hawk Blackstone that is – he put in a claim to grab the players back and told them not to unpack their bags as they were going to be traded again – this time to the Astros for 3B Tyler Whitaker.
Other pickups included a huge haul of free agents.
Outfielders – Abraham Almonte, Andres Tavarez, Pedro Hernandez, Theodore Rosario, Enrique Vasquez, Robby Starr, Chip Dillon, and Merle Childress.
Infielders – Sherten Apostel (signed a huge 9-year, $40 million contract), Ezra Guzman, and Alan Amoros.
Relief Pitcher – Freddie Irrizarry
With all of these moves it was a lot to digest. One thing is clear – if any team should be on the top of your list to watch it is this Athletics team.