The Oakland A’s went into the winter meetings looking like they might contend again in 2015. They came out of the meetings three All-Stars lighter.

Now what?

Last we heard from general manager Billy Beane, he told the media he now plans to spend some of the cash saved in the Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Jeff Samardzija trades. Here’s what Beane said in quotes captured by John Hickey of Mercury News:

We’ve collected young players, and we’re going to try to redeploy the extra payroll. We are trying to walk the delicate balance, getting younger and trying to be as good as we can as quickly as possible. We’ve never been an organization that says, ‘Hey, we’re going to punt for the next five years and get a top-10 draft pick. That’s not in our DNA.

But here’s the most interesting quote from the Hickey article: “We are not done. There are a few things we’d still like to do. We have a laundry list of things we’d like to get done.”

Not an item or two—a laundry list.

What is on that list is anyone’s guess, though. Most saw the Samardzija trade coming. The act of trading Brandon Moss didn’t shock too many. Josh Donaldson joining the Toronto Blue Jays was a most unexpected move.

From the given to the unforeseen, Beane‘s touched on both sides of the spectrum this offseason in terms of moves made.

At this point it’s clear Beane shed some money where it was easy to do so. That seems to be the offseason plan on an annual basis. If we take his words as truth without deception, we can assume the plan moving forward is to remain in competition in the near future.

But does that mean 2015?

Ten teams go to playoffs. As one of them, the A’s lost in their first postseason game, and that was with Moss, Donaldson, Samardzija, Jed Lowrie, Luke Gregerson and Jon Lester. All six are gone now and should their replacements take Oakland further than the All-Stars did, then Beane should be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame immediately.

Let’s assume the replacements will not do that, though.

The other nine teams in the 2014 postseason should compete again in 2015. Another four teams just missed and three more were fairly close. Throw in the Miami Marlins, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs who think they can compete and the Boston Red Sox who should return to the fray and we’re now talking 20 of 30 teams legitimately threatening to take one of 10 spots.

That’s not including Oakland.

Perhaps in this wild free agency full of crazy-big contracts, heavy spending and Oprah Winfrey-style trades (“You make a trade, you make a trade, everyone makes a trade”), the A’s are smart to take a seat for a year.

Typically the MO is selling off anyone who is aged, talented or will make big money for as many prospects as possible, no matter what level they play in.

This offseason, Beane acquired guys right on the edge between Triple-A and Major League Baseball. That has to be by design.

It doesn’t appear as if this offseason is a complete dismantling. Beane seems to have also confirmed it isn’t. At this point, however, it’d take an insane amount of Moneyball magic to jump the Los Angeles Angels for the AL West, or the Kansas City Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, etc. for a Wild Card spot.

The offseason plan should continue down the path already laid out.

Beane and company should fill any remaining holes, without committing too much money, with guys who can simply gain experience this year in hopes of proving themselves or turning the corner. Management should also continue to stockpile pieces that can either contribute sooner rather than later or be swapped in, say, the 2016 offseason as a part of a larger master plan.

Stick with the team, A’s fans.

It may feel like Beane just sold the house for a one-room apartment. He’s done that before, a few times. Instead, think of it like this: After doing everything he can to his mid-size home, he’s sold it at peak value and purchased a slightly smaller home, but it’s no condo.

Hopefully now he makes a handful of minor, cheap moves that turn out to be amazing upgrades—and then Beane adds a room here and a story there with the saved cash to finally have the biggest home on the block.

Sit out 2015 and try to recreate 2012-like magic—that’s my theory. But what do fans think?

I asked them on Twitter.

“JosephThomasD” agrees, thinking Beane will make typical Beane moves—moves with low risk and high reward.

That’s the Beane way after all.

“DillzPicklez” sounds like he’s on board with my assessment:

“Josh_Muller85” said the act of retooling is OK, but questioned the returns:

Most believe Beane‘s words about retooling over rebuilding and see light at the end of the relatively short tunnel, even if that tunnel passes through next season without a stop. The A’s will likely continue picking up typical Moneyball players who project low but produce high and perhaps surprise in 2015 but realistically hit it hard in ’16.

Let’s hope those returns are ready by then.

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