Beane, A's can be patient at Winter Meetings
Everyday shortstop atop roster needs for defending AL West champs
OAKLAND -- For as much attention as Billy Beane has drawn this year, one that brought about an inspiring 94-win season and playoff appearance for his A's, the club's general manager is likely to let his peers soak in the spotlight next week.
That's when Beane and plenty of other notable front-office faces will descend upon the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., for the Winter Meetings, scheduled for Dec. 3-6.
Executives from across baseball will congregate there, and Hot Stove gossip will subsequently run rampant. Trades will be made, while the groundwork for future ones will be planted.
Beane tends to be involved in the latter scenario, choosing to spend the majority of his time at the Winter Meetings listening to offers rather than acting on them in such a setting. That's not to say nothing ever comes of these conversations, as Beane proved last year.
The A's general manager left the meetings without pulling off a single move, only to do so just days later by trading pitchers Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to the D-backs in exchange for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill. The framework for that trade, as it turns out, was created at the Winter Meetings.
So, too, were the ones that led to the trades involving another pair of All-Stars in Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey weeks later.
Beane isn't equipped with such high-profile trade pieces this year, as he has no intention of trading any of his prized pitchers that other teams may covet, further suggesting that his stay in Nashville will mostly be a quiet one.
However, his roster for the 2013 season appears unfinished, with a true everyday shortstop missing from the list. Whether he finds a match via trade remains to be seen, but because he's not willing to give up many players in return, the free-agent market may remain his best option.
The A's are more than set in the outfield, with Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, Seth Smith and offseason acquisition Chris Young already in tow. The same can be said of their stacked pitching staff, along with the rest of their infield, as Josh Donaldson is expected to resume third-base duties, with Scott Sizemore shifting to second base to duke it out with Jemile Weeks, and Brandon Moss and Chris Carter returning to share time at first base. Derek Norris and George Kottaras will be back behind the plate.
As for the payroll, it will surely surpass this year's $55 million sum, with $34 million tied up for just five players: Brett Anderson, Cespedes, Crisp, Young and Grant Balfour. Add in the raises for the club's arbitration-eligible players and the salaries of the rest of the roster, and it's likely that the A's -- who turned down Stephen Drew's $10 million mutual option, which proved too steep of a price -- could be fielding a payroll totaling around $65 million.
It was around this time last year the A's were looking to shed salary, which made Beane one of the most popular figures at the Winter Meetings. Now that he has a core of youthful players, intertwined with a handful of veterans, who grabbed hold of an American League West title in 2012, he can simply sit back and watch to see how others fill theirs.