Around the turn of the century, the Oakland Athletics saw many of their moves start to pay off. Some of those moves make up the list of the five best offseason acquisitions for the franchise.
Oakland has seen their fortunes rise as the Athletics won an average of 95 games or more for the next seven seasons. While the rise was built on draft picks, trades, and free-agent signings, then General Manager Billy Beane was under tough payroll constraints. However, that didn’t stop Beane from engineering numerous trades and free-agent signings that were a steal or a great addition to the roster.
Sandy Alderson, who was Beane’s primary mentor, made a series of moves that throttled the Athletics into the World Series. Then, there was Charlie Finley, who left a dark cloud over the Athletics for multiple reasons. Either way, the Athletics’ past 20 years of offseason acquisitions have kept them in the running for the playoffs or the division title.
Five Best Oakland Athletics Offseason Acquisitions Since 2000
5. Athletics Land the Submarine Pitcher
Athletics receive RHP Chad Bradford.
Chicago White Sox receive PTBNL (Miguel Olivio).
Date: December 7, 2000
Chad Bradford was a submarine pitcher who was a specialty reliever for the Athletics. Bradford had immediate success with the Chicago White Sox, but they found him to be a minor league type of pitcher. Oakland eventually found out about Bradford and traded minor-league catcher Miguel Olivio to acquire him.
From 2001 to 2004, Bradford and his unorthodox pitching style was the backbone of the Athletics bullpen. His best season in Oakland came in 2003. Bradford finished that year with a 7-4 record with a 3.04 ERA, while his opponent’s batting average was .236 with a 1.26 WHIP.
4. The End of the Big Three
Athletics receive RHPs Dan Haren, Kiko Calero.
St. Louis Cardinals receive LHP Mark Mulder.
Date: December 18, 2004
The Athletics parted ways with two of their top three pitchers. First, Tim Hudson went to the Atlanta Braves, while Mark Mulder went to the St. Louis Cardinals. Losing two good pitchers was a blow to the Athletics, but they acquired a promising young pitching prospect in Dan Haren.
Over three seasons with Oakland, the right-handed pitcher established himself as one of the games best. Haren made 102 starts and averaged 14 wins a season. In 2007, he was among one of the best. Haren earned his first All-Star appearance, while finishing in the top three in the American League with a 3.07 ERA that season. In addition, he wound up playing an integral role in the Athletics success in 2006 when they went onto play in the American League Championship Series.
3. A Big Free Agent Splash
Athletics sign OF Yoenis Céspedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.
Date: February 13, 2012
After defecting from Cuba the previous summer, Yoeneis Céspedes had drawn significant buzz from various front offices around the game. The Athletics made one of the biggest signings in franchise history by signing the Cuban to a four-year, $36 million deal. Céspedes lived up to the hype immediately when he hit .292 with 23 home runs, 82 RBI, and 16 stolen bases in 2012.
Furthermore, Céspedes finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. The following season, the outfielder throttled himself into the limelight thanks to his 2013 Home Run Derby performance. Cespedes earned his first All-Star nod in 2014 and wound up winning the Home Run Derby again. No one had done that since Ken Griffery Jr. in 1998 and 1999. Better yet, the Athletics made the playoffs in all three seasons Céspedes was there.
2. The Big Hurt Comes To The Bay Area
Athletics sign 1B/DH Frank Thomas to a one-year, $500,000 contract.
Another impactful Oakland Athletics offseason acquisition happened when the team signed Frank Thomas to a one-year, $500,000 contract. The signing turned out to be one of the biggest bargains of all-time. The “Big Hurt”, at the age of 37, bounced back in 2006. That season he hit 39 home runs, 114 RBI, and had a cumulative slash line of .270/.381/.545. He would finish fourth in AL MVP voting.
Thomas performed well in the Athletics American League Divisional Series sweep of the Minnesota Twins, going 5-for-10 with two home runs. Despite battling injuries the last two seasons, Thomas had something left in the tank. He went onto sign a two-year, $18 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, but return to Oakland for 55 games in 2008. That ended up being his final season in the majors.
1. An Instant Favorite With The Fans
Athletics receive OF Josh Reddick, 1B/3B Miles Head, RHP Raul Alcántara.
Boston Red Sox receive RHP Andrew Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney.
Date: December 28, 2011
The Oakland Athletics 2011 offseason saw them acquire 24-year old Josh Reddick in a five-player deal. He was one of three players the Boston Red Sox sent to the Bay Area in exchange for All-Star closer Andrew Bailey. Oakland didn’t imagine they had traded for a slugger. The outfielder quickly became a fan favorite after arriving in 2012.
In his first season with Oakland, Reddick hit a career-high 32 home runs. He became a stabilized force in the middle of the Athletics lineup, while providing the team with strong defense overall. Reddick was named the American League right field Gold Glove winner, the first of his career. Unfortunately, his next two seasons were plagued with nagging injuries. Reddick bounced back in 2015 hitting 20 home runs, driving in 77 runs, and hitting .272 with a .333 On-Base Percentage (OBP).
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Players Mentioned: Chad Bradford, Miguel Olivio, Dan Haren, Kiko Calero, Mark Mulder, Yoenis Cespedes, Mike Trout, Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Josh Reddick, Miles Head, Raul Alcantara, Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney