Hands off Melvin, Oakland tells Yanks
ORLANDO — The Yankees wanted to interview Bob Melvin for their vacant manager’s job, and the A’s refused to grant permission.
General manager David Forst said Monday that the A’s are committed to Melvin, calling him “absolutely the right guy” to oversee the development of a young team that finished in last place again but won 17 of its final 24 games and had more wins in September than in any other month since 2014.
Melvin received a one-year extension in September and is signed through 2019. The Yankees are seeking a replacement for Joe Girardi, who was fired after New York lost a sevengame American League Championship Series to Houston.
On the first day of the GM meetings in Orlando, Forst said the priority is beefing up the bullpen and finding a righthanded-hitting corner outfielder. The A’s like the young nucleus of their lineup and rotation.
At last year’s GM meetings, the A’s tried filling out their lineup with outside older players, and they settled on Matt Joyce, Rajai Davis and Trevor Plouffe. Now it’s much different after several young players, including Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, flourished with regular playing time.
“You know the guys who need opportunities,” Forst said. “You don’t want to block certain guys. This time last year, we knew we had holes that were going to be filled by free agents. Because of the progress of our position players, we’re not in that situation.”
Though the A’s are open to adding an experienced starter to their young rotation, “it’s not a priority for us,” Forst said. It’s all about upgrading a bullpen that lost Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson in a July trade with Washington.
“If you’re going to have the young starting staff and ask a lot of them, you want to be able to support them when they give you a lead,” Forst said.
The A’s could add needed roster parts by trading Ryon Healy, a power-hitting corner infielder and designated hitter, but Forst wouldn’t bite when a reporter asked whether Healy is the odd man out now that Chapman and Olson are manning the corners.
“He’s part of our depth,” Forst said. “We’d like to talk about Khris (Davis) in the DH spot occasionally. Look, Ryon can hit in the middle of a lot of lineups, so I’d never characterize him as an odd man out. We’d need to consider a lot of avenues if we’re going to add pitching.”
News of the Yankees’ quest to interview Melvin first was reported by the Athletic.