A’s can’t escape trade talk

OAKLAND — Not even Josh Reddick can avoid the constant trade speculation swirling around the Oakland Athletics.

“I’m not the guy who’s just going to look for stuff and try to read the rumors, but it’s just something that sometimes you do just to get a little insight on it,” Reddick explained. “I feel like if you’re worried about waking up and reading everything, then you’re going to have a lot of problems.”

The right fielder has a secret trick to help tune out the noise.

“I just try to ignore it the best I can and I’ve done a pretty good job of that. You just find something to preoccupy your time — especially now with this new hot game that’s out on everybody’s phone,” said Reddick, who admitted to getting “stuck on” Pokemon Go during the All-Star Break.

As the August 1 deadline inches closer, the odds that the Oakland Athletics will ship out Reddick keep climbing. The 29-year-old, who becomes a free agent at season’s end, said there’s nothing new to report on the contract-extension front.

“That’s something that doesn’t go through me,” Reddick said. “I don’t worry about it. My agency and I, we talked about it in spring training — whenever it was supposed to work out. And ever since then it’s been just me not worrying about it — at all.”

Reddick’s agent doesn’t even bother his client with regular reports on the situation.

“I haven’t had an update since spring training,” Reddick said. “We’re on the same page where if it’s not the right price, then they’re not even going to call me.”

The phone isn’t ringing.

With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, a confluence of internal and external factors points to a second major summer sale in as many seasons.

On the first day of the second half, the club signaled it is officially in evaluation mode. The A’s summoned Futures Game participant Ryon Healy from Triple-A Nashville to take over at the hot corner  — even though the former third baseman, Danny Valencia, was also the first-half cleanup man.

“I know that [Healy’s] done really well this year and everybody raves about him in [our] development [department],” Melvin said of the 24-year-old, who slashed .326/.382/.558 with 14 home runs in 85 minor league games in 2016. “He started out hot in Double-A, took it right into Triple-A and basically played the same way.”

As Melvin put it, the “trickle down effect” of Healy’s promotion is a demotion to platoon status for Valencia.

“It’s going to be tough on some of the guys,” Melvin said, explaining that Valencia will see time at first base, designated hitter and even the outfield. “But we’ve put ourselves in this position as a team. With our record, we have to look at some other guys and see if they’re going to be pieces for us in the future.”

The reduction of playing time for Valencia is puzzling, as the third baseman enjoyed the best offensive first half of his career, posting a .304 average, 12 home runs and an .856 OPS.

With those numbers, the club should have kept Valencia in the lineup on a full-time basis if only to showcase his bat for a potential trade.

While Valencia’s value can only fall, starting pitcher Rich Hill keeps increasing his popularity in what is shaping up to be a seller’s market.

On Thursday, the San Diego Padres sent Drew Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox, extracting the highly-touted Anderson Espinoza in the process. The day before, ESPN dubbed Espinoza the 14th-best prospect in baseball.

Pomeranz and Hill are far from perfect comparisons. The former is 27 and under team control through the end of the 2018 season. The latter is 36 and becomes a free agent in the fall.

The connection is that both left-handers produced standout first halves. With Pomeranz now pitching at Fenway Park, Hill, whose 2.25 ERA is fourth-best among MLB pitchers who have thrown at least 75 innings, is the undisputed ace of the marketplace.

If the Padres were able to land Espinoza in exchange for Pomeranz, the A’s should also be able to ask for a ransom for Hill.

The surprise star has become so immune to the endless trade buzz that Hill was casually discussing a rumor with a long-time team employee before Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Like Hill, Melvin knows the speculation will only get louder as the deadline approaches.

“It’s baseball. When you’re not at the top of your division or close to it, then you get talked about — more and more,” Melvin said. “There’s more scrutiny on it every year. There’s ticking clocks and the whole bit the closer you get to it. So, it’s just part of the game now.”


Josh Reddick, outfielder

With A’s since 2012

This season: 54 GP, .302/.381/.448, 1.7 WAR

Contract: Free agent after this year

Danny Valencia, utility

With A’s since 2015

This season: 67 GP, .306/.357/.498, 0.6 WAR

Contract: Due for arbitration after this year

Rich Hill, starting pitcher

Signed with A’s in offseason

This season: 2.25 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 3.0 WAR

Contract: Free agent after this year

Ryan Madson, Relief Pitcher

Signed with A’s in offseason

This season: 3.62 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 19 SV, 0.9 WAR

Contract: Under team control until 2019

John Axford, relief pitcher

Signed with A’s in offseason

This season: 4.95 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 0.2 WAR

Contract: Under team control until 2018

Marc Rzepczynski, relief pitcher

Signed with A’s in offseason

This season: 3.41 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 0.5 WAR

Contract: Free agent after this year

Jed Lowrie, infielder

Traded to A’s in offseason

This season: 72 GP, .283/.334/.348, 0.1 WAR

Contract: Under team control until 2018

Sonny Gray, starting pitcher

With A’s since 2013

This season: 5.12 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 0.3 WAR

Contract: Due for arbitration after this year

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