On Friday, my friend and colleague Devan Fink helped break the news that Billy Butler signed a three year, thirty million dollar deal with the Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane is entering new territory, signing one of the largest deals he has ever offered. This leads to the question: are Billy Beane and the A’s ownership ready to begin making free agent splashes? Are they tired of waiting?
After three disappointing trips to the playoffs that concluded in three straight eliminations, the Athletics may be ready to take a new approach to the off season, even with their miniscule payroll.
While the free agent market has the worst offerings in years, it provides Oakland with an opportunity to begin a new era in their front office. The “Moneyball” method seems to consistently work in the regular season, but as soon as the calendar turns to October, the magic disappears. Oakland has already come out of the blue and made a big free agent signing – could it be the first of a few?
Devan Fink, who helped break the story, doesn’t think so. “I personally don’t think that Moneyball is over. The Billy Butler signing represented an addition that filled a need.” he said. “At ten million per year, a guy with Butler’s capabilities is still a great deal. ” As for the matter of if it could be the first of many signings, Fink simply said that “The A’s needed someone who could mash lefty pitching. Butler does that.”
The Butler deal is a steal for Oakland. While they didn’t struggle hitting long balls against lefties, hitting forty four home runs against them, they are on the brink of losing Jed Lowrie, Jonny Gomes, adding to the fact they already lost Cespedes. The power numbers would’ve declined had Oakland not made an addition.
Butler is also a great fit in the Oakland club, as they did not have an obvious DH last season. As for the Moneyball era, it looks like it hasn’t completely come to a close.
But with every season, it seems like there is more disappointment, and it becomes more likely that Billy Beane will look into the free agent market.