David Forst

Three A's storylines to watch during this year's MLB Winter Meetings

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- MLB’s primary offseason event, the Winter Meetings, starts Monday, and as usual, the Oakland Athletics likely will be a study in quiet contrast.

Other teams will aim to make the ultimate free-agency splash by landing the likes of Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell or Cody Bellinger, but not the A's. Still, there will be some telling angles to monitor from the Oakland perspective, as nearly the entire baseball world converges on the Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

Relocation impact on free agency

Will 2024 be the A's final season in their current home, with Las Vegas relocation officially approved by MLB owners? That largely remains unknown or finalized -- the A's Coliseum lease expires after next year -- and likely will play a considerable factor in key free-agent signings the team can or cannot make.

A's general manager David Forst almost seems handcuffed in his ability to negotiate new multiyear contracts on any level, considering the question of where the team will play in 2025 and beyond. Could it be Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Summerlin … or a combination of any two?

All jobs are MLB opportunities, but the potential inconvenience of moving, or splitting a home schedule, would seem to be a turn-off to any onboarding veteran. Watch not only if the A's can sign any free agents over the next three days but also for how many years.

Kotsay contract conundrum

While the A's have precisely zero players currently under contract for 2025 and beyond, their manager, Mark Kotsay, is signed through then.

That's because about one month ago, Kotsay was part of the Mets' manager search, after the A’s allowed him to interview in New York. Just a few days after that prospect was ruled out, Oakland extended its 2025 club option on Kotsay.

While 214 losses in the past two seasons are attached to Kotsay’s name, anyone with a pulse can understand that record doesn't accurately reflect his ability, efforts or leadership skills. He’s had to grind through unprecedented challenges on and off the field, which begs the question of how long he’ll persist in that pinch before other opportunities inevitably arrive.

To wit: Previous A's manager Bob Melvin was allowed to leave for San Diego before the 2022 season despite having one extension year remaining in Oakland and a 853-764 record, three AL West titles, six playoff appearances and two AL Manager of the Year awards over 11 seasons.

The last lottery?

New lottery rules were instituted for the MLB draft in 2022. Unluckily, even with the second-worst record in baseball, the A's fell to the No. 6 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Now, entering this draft lottery with MLB’s worst record at 50-112, the A’s need to grab a top pick … because they (likely) won't be allowed in the system at all next season, no matter how they finish in 2024. 

Per MLB.com, "small-market teams (revenue sharing recipients) are prohibited from receiving a selection in the lottery in three consecutive years." That would include the A’s, if they move to Las Vegas, and in the process, continue on revenue sharing.

The draft lottery will be held Tuesday night at the meetings.

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