Rumors are flying from Dallas, and if you were to believe all of them, you would think Billy Beane has been working on a massive ten-team trade involving the Cubs, Rangers, Devil Rays, Red Sox, Dodgers, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Mets, all of which, in the end, results in the A's signing both Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza as free agents.
It all sounds very complicated. But I think from all this activity, we can boil down what Billy Beane wants into three simple things:
A good right-handed bat, either at OF or DH
A rotation with someone better than Kirk Saarloos in it
Milledge is the key to all the activity. It looks like Mets GM Omar Minaya is willing to trade Milledge to obtain a star player. His first preference would be Manny Ramirez. Option 2 is Barry Zito.
In order for the A's to land Milledge, then, the Manny Ramirez-to-the-Mets deal had to fall through. That now appears to be the case.
So the Zito-Milledge trade talks are on. The problem is, if Zito is traded, the A's once again have a rotation with Saarloos in it.
Hence, the David Wells-for-Justin Duchscherer rumor. If the Milledge package included Aaron Heilman, Heilman could take Duchscherer's spot, Wells could take Zito's spot, and the A's become Milledge people.
Milledge isn't ready for the majors yet, so he wouldn't fill need #1. The A's wish list for that need originally included Milton Bradley, Frank Thomas, and Mike Piazza. The Bradley rumors suddenly ceased after the A's met with Frank Thomas yesterday, so we can probably assume Thomas is coming to Oakland.
So what's the holdup now? For one, the A's won't sign Thomas until after 9pm tonight, when they can get him without giving up a draft pick. But the Mets also have a couple of things they need to do first:
Talk to Zito, and get some idea of how hard it would be to re-sign him. If there's no chance at all, the Mets might pass.
If the A's can't get Milledge, they'll keep Zito, and still have #1 and #2 on their wish list. Whether they get all three remains to be seen, but it is looking increasingly likely. It will probably happen or fall apart within the next few days. Stay tuned.