The A's wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.
The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday seemingly paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.
It also points to another move the A's want to pull off - acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.
It's a series of moves that isn't all that surprising given the A's roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.
It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis' throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.
A's general manager David Forst had yet to address Wednesday's trade with reporters, but it stands to reason the A's feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A's have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.
A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland's front office.
He'll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.
Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League and was rated Seattle's No. 15 prospect by Baseball America.
Did the A's rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it's fair to say that Healy's departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 - knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman - he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland's lineup.
He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There's a fiery side to Healy's on-field personality that was a positive for the A's, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.
Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH, if indeed the A's go with that plan. There's lots of offseason left to play out, and the A's roster is nowhere near final.