Facing the stark reality that a rebuilding project is inevitable, some teams held fire sales this offseason, dealing from areas of strength and depth. Others simply continue to be mired in bad decisions or the aftermath of those decisions, or simply won’t be able to withstand the loss of an All-Star player to free agency. Regardless, here are the five teams that got worse in the offseason:
What they lost: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez, 26, amassed a 31-21 record with a 3.20 ERA and striking out 368 hitters in 402 2/3 innings the last two years. Trevor Cahill, 23, averaged double-digit win totals in each of his three years in the majors. When healthy, Andrew Bailey was highly effective, saving 75 games over the last three years, striking out a man per inning. The A’s also lost reliever Craig Breslow in the Cahill deal, and outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham left via free agency.
What they added: Gonzalez fetched two starters who are close to the big leagues in Brad Peacock and Tom Milone. Peacock has a high upside but could be a year away, and Milone is more of a back-of-the-rotation starter. For Bailey, the A’s received a fourth outfielder in Josh Reddick and two prospects; among the two, hard-throwing pitcher Raul Alcantara, 19, has more upside. For Cahill, the A’s received a package of prospects highlighted by right-hander Jarrod Parker, who has ace potential but is recovering from Tommy John surgery. For Willingham and DeJesus, the A’s received two first-round supplemental picks (Nos. 34 and 47 overall).
Bottom line: Without Gonzalez, the rotation has no stopper, and there will be many losses in 2012 for Oakland. Without Bailey, the A’s have a void in the ninth inning. Most of the prospects won’t even see the light of day until 2013 or 2014. The A’s shouldn’t be expected to compete in a stacked AL West for several years.