Billy Beane’s annual Q-and-A session during the A’s FanFest is always more fun when the team is coming off a postseason appearance, he said Saturday at FanFest. Even so, the team’s vice president of baseball operations still had a few tricky topics thrown his way at Jack London Square.
Beane was, naturally, asked about Kyler Murray and whether the A’s should get back a draft pick should the Heisman Trophy winner gives up baseball for football after the NFL draft. The A’s will not get a comp pick if the outfielder, selected ninth overall last June, picks the NFL, but, Beane said, “Listen, we’re still very excited about Kyler Murray … He’s a phenomenal kid and a great athlete and I wouldn’t take that pick back in a second. We’re all still very optimistic.”
As far as the A’s know, Murray – who met with Beane, general manager David Forst and director of player personnel Billy Owens the day before the NFL draft – is planning to report to big-league camp by Feb. 15. But there is no timetable for him to decide baseball vs. football, Beane said after the Q and A. “I don’t think creating timelines or ultimatums is really going to lead to the positive outcome we’d like to see,” Beane said.
Should Murray report and then leave the team for the NFL combine at the end of February, the team likely would place him on the restricted list, and he would have to repay his $4.66 million signing bonus. The A’s aren’t currently considering allowing Murray to attend the combine and then return to big-league camp and have not discussed it with Murray or his representatives.
Beane also was asked about signing Khris Davis, Blake Treinen and Matt Chapman to long-term deals, something Beane said the A’s would like to do but Davis is the priority because he will be a free agent after the season (the team also can give Davis a qualifying offer after the season, which he’s likely to accept, which means he’s essentially not going anywhere until after the 2020 season).
Oakland’s starting rotation remains a question mark, as does the everyday starting catcher spot. “There are still some options in both of those areas and we’re having conversations,” Beane said after the Q and A. “Listen, there are some guys we’d like to sign now, so in some cases we’re waiting on them as much as they’re waiting on us.”
Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson, both added on minor-league deals last year, are both still available and potential rotation options, and there are a number of free-agent catchers remaining.
Beane also suggested that the team will be making more minor-league signings before spring training starts.
Phegley said he’s ready to go if he winds up with more playing time. “My approach every year is I want to win the starting job no matter who’s there,” he said. “I expect them to call my number more this year and if I’m in there, I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m confident I can handle the staff and I have a good rapport with them and they like to throw to me,”
Phegley revamped his swing last season, eliminating as much movement as possible, and he’s been working on it all winter. “It comes with at-bats and being comfortable and confident, and I’ve showed when I play I do well,” he said.
The A’s do have a number of internal options when it comes to starters, including Paul Blackburn and Chris Bassitt, who at times have been in the rotation before injuries took their toll. Blackburn, who had forearm and elbow issues last year after putting up a 3.22 ERA the season before, has already thrown three sides sessions and he said he is focused on not going out too hard this spring training.
“I don’t want to go out there and try to make the team on day one of spring training,” Blackburn said, adding, “Everyone competing for a job is rooting for everyone else. No one wants to see anyone fail, that’s not the kind of guys we are. I think our team is really solid. I think we’ve taken a lot of steps in the right direction.”
Bassitt, valuable in a yo-yo role between Triple-A and Oakland last year, has taken on a much more zen attitude toward his rotation chances after a hiccup last spring when he expressed dissatisfaction with the uncertainty of his role.
“It’s going to work itself out,” said Bassitt, who had a 3.97 ERA in 11 appearances last year. “People who are freaking out about how the rotation going to shake out – baseball always works its way out. In four weeks, we’ll know a lot more. And two weeks later, everything will be different. You can make your projections, but it’s just going to change. It’s my job not to worry about it. Just do the best you can with what you can control and don’t waste energy and emotion on the rest.
“I’m very excited about this year. I know when I’m healthy what I can do in the big leagues. When I’m healthy, I perform.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/Billy-Beane-addresses-Kyler-Murray-questions-and-13564383.php.