The Oakland A’s seem to be leaning toward trading first baseman Mark McGwire by the July 31 deadline, but they have several factors to weigh before pulling the trigger.
Obligation to their fans.
Team officials wonder if McGwire should be kept in an Oakland uniform for the rest of the season so A’s followers can witness his pursuit of Roger Maris’ record of 61 home runs. McGwire is on a pace to hit 55.
Not to be overlooked: The A’s play 12 of their final 17 games at the Coliseum, ensuring several large crowds if he’s close.
McGwire will become a free agent after the season, and all indications point to him playing elsewhere next year. The A’s want to re-sign him, and McGwire has said what must be done before he’ll consider coming back. He wants ownership to spend enough money to put a competitive team on the field, which is a fair request.
How much to demand in a trade.
Two schools of thought prevail on this issue. One side says the A’s should insist on a team’s top prospect or two, or young players already in the majors. If the answer is no, keep McGwire and settle for two picks in next June’s draft if he departs.
That would be worse judgment than the A’s outfielders routinely make tracking fly balls.
If the Oakland front office reaches the conclusion McGwire won’t come back next season, it should trade the first baseman for two or three decent prospects rather than risk going away empty-handed.
Two draft choices, including one in the first round, aren’t enough for McGwire. The A’s would be better off with two or three promising youngsters in the high minors.
Sure, it would be fantastic for the A’s if a contender panics and offers its three best prospects for McGwire. It might be worth waiting as long as possible to find out, though the A’s have to give McGwire time to approve or reject a trade because he has veto power.
But unless the A’s are convinced they have a reasonable chance to retain McGwire next year, they have to lower their trade demands if that’s what it takes to move him by the July 31 deadline. They can always attempt to re-sign him as a free agent in the offseason if owners Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann increase their budget.
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