There was no need for a late rally in 2013. The A's took over the lead in the AL West for good on September 6th, and clinched the division on the second to last weekend of the season. Oakland took a 2-1 lead in the ALDS against the Tigers, and led 3-0 in Game 4 before getting outscored 11-3 over the final game and a half to end their season at the Coliseum once again.
Oakland only has two major free agents: closer Grant Balfour and starter Bartolo Colon. Both are likely going to be finding new homes this offseason after they had great years in 2013, and while the A's would like to bring the pair back, it doesn't appear to be financially possible. As for what the team *needs*? Well…not much, really. The A's will bring back their top 12 offensive players in fWAR next year along with midseason acquisition Alberto Callaspo, and that should take care of their position players. Oakland can also bring back 11 of their top 13 pitchers from a year ago, meaning that the team probably won't need to really fill many holes on their pitching staff either.
If the A's are in the market for any players this winter, I'd assume they'd be looking for buy low options on the mound. Relievers like Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, and Francisco Rodriguez could come cheap. If they can't bring back Colon and want a starting pitcher, someone like a Ted Lilly or Bruce Chen could be a fit. But honestly, I doubt the A's make much of a splash at all in the free agent market thanks to arbitration raises.
Hello, Oakland. Billy Beane loves to make deals. Last year, he brought in Chris Young, John Jaso, and Jed Lowrie in separate deals during the offseason. After the 2011 season, Beane traded closer Andrew Bailey and starters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill, picking up standouts Josh Reddick, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, Ryan Cook, and Jarrod Parker in those trades. After the 2010 season, he acquired outfielders David DeJesus and Josh Willingham. The question is, what's Beane looking to do this winter? Someone like Brett Anderson, who has an $8 million club option for 2014, could be dealt, as could someone like first-time arb-eligible outfielder Josh Reddick. Maybe even pricey outfielder Yoenis Cespedes could be available, but I'd lean towards him sticking around.
The A's have a pretty good track record with the talent they acquire in their trades, and I'd never bet against Billy Beane getting the maximum value for his players in both the present and future, An upgrade at second base might be an option for the A's – perhaps a flyer on Dan Uggla of the Braves (with the Braves eating a substantial bit of his contract) could be worth it. I don't think the A's will be looking to put together a package of prospects for a stud, like they did a few years ago with Matt Holliday, but trading a non-prospect for a minor upgrade would be a good use of their resources.And if they trade off one of their veterans who is getting pricey, look for the A's to seek talent that's closer to the majors. They don't need a full rebuild, and picking up a 19-year old in low-A as the centerpiece of a potential trade wouldn't really be prudent for them right now.