Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A's Give up on 2012-2014; Santiago May Opt Out

The A's have officially given up on the 2012 season and are just playing out the string. Long time fan Roberto Santiago has informed the team that he is considering opting out of his contract and exploring free agency.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Fransisco Chronicle the A's have traded All-Star pitcher Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks for prospects.  This move is in keeping with the A's philosophy as they look towards a future that involves moving to San Jose. As Slusser had previously reported the A's are looking to trade many of their recent All-Stars, "to get back younger players in return than those they dealt. They aren’t hiding the fact that the players they’d be looking for are ones who’d be playing in any potential new stadium. The soonest the A’s could get a stadium completed would be in three years, for the 2015 season. So Double-A players, maybe even high Class-A players could be on their wish lists, conceivably."

Today, Slusser reports that the trade of Cahill, an All-Star in 2010, and RP Craig Breslow, “lines up with what Arizona is trying to do, and what Oakland is trying to do. Win now – or win three years down the road.”

This news may be the last straw for long time A's fan, Roberto Santiago who has expressed reservations about his future with the club ever since Lew Wolff bought the team in 2005 and immediately announced he was moving them to Fremont. Santiago, who grew up in the Oakland/Berkeley area told reporters privately that any impending move could jeopardize his future with the club.  With the A's clearly trying to alienate fans and tank in advance of the 2015 season Santiago's future with the club is very much in doubt.

Santiago has been tied to several major league markets including Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, and Boston. The Red Sox may be in position to sign Santiago after previously signing him to a ten day contract in 2008. To date that ten day deal represents the strongest move made by an MLB team to recruit the long time baseball fan since the 1989 World Series.

Despite the Red Sox strong financial commitment some speculate that Santiago might sign with Washington, where he keeps a residence, in order to be closer to his family.

"My son goes past the National's stadium everyday on his way to school so it would be cool to be a part of that." said Santiago. He continued, "With the new park, some good young players and a willingness to try for quality free agents Washington could be a good place for me."

Sources say there is little credit to the idea that Santiago would consider a move to the either of the New York teams. Much like the rumors around Cliff Lee last year there is a feeling that Santiago would be more comfortable in a smaller market. Even though he has family ties to both the Mets and Yankees, those close to the veteran fan doubt he would consider New York unless they made an overwhelming offer, several times what the Red Sox committed in 2008.

The Dodgers are thought to be ruled out due in part to their unsettled ownership situation and reports linking Santiago to the Angels and Orioles were dismissed as being completely without merit. According to one source, "His long time hatred for those two franchises would make them highly unlikely fandom destinations despite loose geographic ties."

There is still a chance Santiago could remain with Oakland, the franchise that drafted him in the first month of 1977. Santiago has stated that beyond this year, his decision to re-up with the club is likely contingent on them building a new stadium in downtown Oakland. In 2006 Santiago was quoted as saying, "I don't mind rebuilding, but I don't want to be involved in a move."

"I'd love to stay in Oakland my whole career." Santiago continued, "But it's not totally up to me. The team has to show that they want me. At the same time we all have to understand it's a business. We all have to do what's best for us and our families even when it hurts."

The Giants front office is rumored to have hopes the two sport fan who has been a long time supporter of the 49ers might follow former A's All-Stars Barry Zito and Vida Blue across the bay. This harkens back to speculation that the Giants might have been courting Santiago in 1997 when he was seen in a Candlestick Park luxury box with former Giants and one-time Athletics hall-of-famer Orlando Cepeda. Though those rumors never found legs, Santiago claimed it was merely a social call, it wouldn't be a surprise if people tried to draw a connection. Also Fueling the "Santiago to the Giants" talk is the story that as a kid in the late 80's Santiago liked those funky half A's/half Giants hats.

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