With baseball's annual Winter Meetings approaching, the A's could be among the major players in trade talks if general manager Billy Beane decides to rebuild rather than reload for a run at the American League West title.
With several players recovering from surgeries and others coming off injury-plagued seasons, Beane can either hope for improved health and add complementary pieces, or look to re-stock his club's thin farm system for the future. The Winter Meetings should provide an answer as to which direction he'll take.
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2007 finish: 76-86, third place, AL West
Deals so far: Traded utility IF Marco Scutaro to Toronto for Minor League RHPs Graham Godfrey and Kristian Bell. ... Waived LHP Jay Marshall, RHP Colby Lewis and OFs Kevin Thompson and Chris Snelling, all of whom were picked up by other clubs.
Players eligible for arbitration: RHPs Joe Blanton, Huston Street, Justin Duchscherer, Chad Gaudin and Kiko Calero, and LHP Lenny DiNardo.
Free agents: OF Shannon Stewart, DH Mike Piazza, OF Jeff DaVanon.
Needs: Two of the team's projected starters -- right-handers Duchscherer and Rich Harden -- suffered season-ending injuries last season, so if the A's want to be contenders, they could use a veteran starter. And because Duchscherer is being moved from the bullpen to the rotation, another bullpen arm would help. The offensive lineup leans heavily to the left in term of power, so a right-handed bat for the middle order might be on the wish list, and Oakland is currently without an experienced backup infielder. If Beane is looking to re-stock the Minor League system, high-level prospects are particularly needed at third base and shortstop.
Dealing strengths: In Haren, Blanton and Harden, the A's have a trio of talented starters who likely would draw impressive packages in return. Top prospect Daric Barton also has high trade value.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.