As the 2011 MLB Winter Meetings approach, the Oakland Athletics are doing plenty of due diligence work in preparation for potential trades. Thanks to the team's stadium situation (or lack thereof), the team is looking to get younger in advance of some kind of decision. If the A's are unable to get a stadium deal done soon they are stuck in neutral and will not be adding payroll. If they actually get a stadium deal done, they will be looking to prepare to contend as they are moving into the stadium in four or five (or more) years. Accordingly, young talent that will be too expensive in four or five years is officially on the market.
The two biggest names thus far are starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez and closer Andrew Bailey. Given that the A's are looking down the road, having a top of the line closer is not particularly necessary at this point. Buster Olney believes it is a virtual certainty that Bailey is dealt in the coming months. The Mariners have reportedly gotten involved in the bidding, but you can basically look through the list of contenders that struggled in late innings and add them to the rumors. The A's will use the Winter Meetings to get teams bidding against each other and drive up the price. Bailey is only now entering arbitration so he has even more value.
Gio Gonzalez remains the top name available from the A's. He led the team in wins, ERA and strikeouts, and will command a steep price as he remains under team control. The Marlins are said to be in on the bidding but reportedly declined any package involving Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton. The A's could be looking for a prospect haul along the lines of what they got for Dan Haren in late 2007. That deal netted the A's Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Carlos Gonzalez, Dana Eveland, Greg Smith and Aaron Cunningham.
It is highly unlikely any deals will go down between now and the Winter Meetings. Once all the GMs are in one place, the horse-trading can begin and Billy Beane can start pitting teams against each other to boost the offers.
For more on what should be a busy offseason for the Oakland A's, head over to Athletics Nation.