Dan O’Dowd: ‘Pretty Big Risk Signing Lester For Those Kind Of Dollars’

Billy Beane has had arguably the busiest offseason in all of baseball. The long-time Oakland general manager traded Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Jeff Samardzija, signed Billy Butler and stockpiled young talent, including pitcher Chris Bassit, catcher Josh Phegley, and infielders Rangel Ravelo and Marcus Semien.

You wouldn’t expect such a massive overhaul for a franchise that has made the playoffs three straight years, but, well, that’s Beane.

“Billy’s a dear friend of mine, and we’ve had many philosophical conversations about building ball clubs,” former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said on The MoJo Show. “Oakland is a small-market club, and Billy builds his club in the aggregate. He looks at the total picture. He doesn’t really make decisions based upon now as much as he makes decisions based upon what’s next. He always looks at the reality of things that are different than what people perceive things are. He knows this organization very well, and he knows where they’re at.”

This isn’t the first major overhaul of Beane’s career. He traded Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey before the 2012 season, and the A’s went on to win the AL West in back-to-back years. Those moves allowed the A’s to extend Coco Crisp and sign Bartolo Colon and Yoenis Cespedes.

“He’s building his club, as I said, in the aggregate,” O’Dowd said. “He’s trying to create as many wins with as many different possible players as he can. You go through a season, you use 40+ players every year. He’s trying to have a very deep, versatile club. That’s the way he and (manager) Bob (Melvin) have run their scheme out there over the last couple years, and he’s been very successful doing it.”

Jon Lester, meanwhile, has reportedly signed a six-year, $155-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

“I think it’s going to (have) a domino effect,” O’Dowd said. “The next tier of free agent starting pitchers and trades will take place – maybe not this week, but at some point in time before the Christmas holiday begins.”

While Lester was brilliant last year – 16-11, a 2.46 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP and 220 strikeouts in 219.2 innings – O’Dowd believes the 30-year-old southpaw carries a bit of risk.

“For me, obviously getting a starting pitcher with that type of length, those kind of dollars, that’s a pretty big risk,” O’Dowd said, “especially for a guy that, for me, the second half of the year relied a lot on his cutter. He didn’t throw a lot four-seam fast balls, and his velocity started to back up in the postseason. But he’s a tremendous competitor. He is the hot commodity right now.”

Indeed, Lester, who was acquired at the trade deadline in July, was not expected to remain in Oakland, and O’Dowd was not surprised that Lester signed with Chicago.

“I think the Cubs (were) all in on this one,” O’Dowd said. “And when a club is all in, they usually get that player.”

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