The 2011 MLB non-waiver trade deadline has passed and the Oakland Athletics ended up fairly quiet on Sunday. The A's went into a bit of a tailspin through much of June and early July, dropping into last place and double digits back of the first place Texas Rangers. The A's remain double digits back of first place but they've seen the light go on for their offense and suddenly they've return to being a competitive ball club.
The A's made one trade before the deadline as they sent right handed relief pitcher Brad Ziegler to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 1B/OF Brandon Allen and left handed relief pitcher Jordan Norberto. The A's have considerable depth in their bullpen and adding a guy like Allen brings some upside with his power potential. He hit 18 home runs in 83 games with the Reno Aces before getting called up by the Diamondbacks. He has scuffled a bit at the big league level, but he's shown some of the power he's consistently had in the minors.
The A's went into the deadline looking to be a seller. They had various veteran parts that were coming to the end of their current contracts at season's end and have not really been going anywhere this season. Nonetheless, they were sufficiently underwhelmed with offers for guys like Josh Willingham such that they decided to hold on to them past the deadline. That does not necessarily mean they won't be dealt. Teams can still make deals in August but players first must clear waivers. Most of the A's veterans are sufficiently priced that they are unlikely to clear waivers.
Amidst all this, the A's have found themselves playing incredibly solid baseball since the All Star break as they have set a club record with eight or more hits in 16 straight games since the All Star break. The offense was expected to be improved in 2011 but had scuffled with inconsistency over the first 90+ games. However, over the last two weeks the offense has suddenly found its way. The team currently sits 10 games under .500 and 11 1/2 games back of the first place Texas Rangers. A run at the division is an incredible long shot, but given the recent hot streak, they could at the very least make the final two months of the season at least a little bit interesting.
The A's also find themselves in a position of still benefiting from the players they did not trade. Reports indicate Josh Willingham could very well be a Type A free agent and Coco Crisp and others might be Type B free agents at the end of the season. if that's the case, if the A's tender them they could receive draft pick compensation if they sign elsewhere. While that means unproven college or high school talent, it is certainly better than nothing and could have tremendous upside. Additionally, the A's have discussed the possibility of extending Josh Willingham as he has been the most consistent power hitter on the team.
The A's final two months could remain interesting no matter what the outcome of the remaining games. On the one hand, a strong run could get them back on the precipice of the playoff race, which is always exciting. On the other hand, August struggles would likely lead to a host of young call-ups, potentially including Chris Carter, Michael Taylor and Adrian Cardenas among others. The A's have young talent at Triple-A Sacramento and September call-ups might get significantly more playing time if the team falls further out of the playoff race.
The A's 2011 season has not gone quite as planned, which is a disappointment. However, the on-field future of the team could be a bit brighter following the trade deadline. The addition of Brandon Allen provides one more possible power bat for the A's to develop. They've lacked a truly consistent slugger since Frank Thomas' one big year in 2006. They haven't had a consistently big bat developed internally since Miguel Tejada. Maybe an Allen or Carter or Taylor can be that answer. One or more of them will be with the big league club next year, but could very well get a significant opportunity before this season is over.