In Beane we trust; A's will contend

Brett Lawrie was among four players acquired via trade by the A's last week for Josh Donaldson. Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When it comes to GM Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, asking what's next is always the big question. Some general managers tend to ride things out with the core of their rosters, making major changes only when the need arises. This is not Beane's modus operandi. The "Moneyball" protagonist is an inveterate tinkerer, with the roster almost always featuring some big changes, whether the A's are in the cellar or the penthouse. This winter has already been an action-packed one for Oakland, with the trade of the team's best player, Josh Donaldson, and the signing of ex-Royals designated hitter Billy Butler.

The obvious first place to look as the dust clears is what the recent trade means for Oakland in 2015? Well, the A's didn't just acquire prospects, they also acquired an established major league player in an effort to not damage the team too much in the short-term. While Oakland's 88 wins and a quick exit from the playoffs looks disappointing after the team beat up on the American League for the first half of the season, it's also a disappointment that at least 20 nonplayoff teams would have gladly chosen.