OAKLAND -- One of Bob Melvin's biggest strengths this past season was coaxing maximum production out of a constantly shuffling roster.
The A's manager can't be sure what his roster will look like next spring, since there are doubts about whether a couple key pieces to last year's American League West championship club will return.
Shortstop Stephen Drew is expected to be one of the most coveted free-agent infielders this winter, and outfielder/D.H. Jonny Gomes, another free agent, is drawing interest from Baltimore.
Melvin, named the A.L.'s Manager of the Year on Tuesday, maintains hope that both might return to the A's for 2013.
"I talked to Stephen the other day a little bit," Melvin said Wednesday during a news conference at the Oakland Coliseum. "It's going to come down to what he wants to do -- whether it's a long-term deal and somewhere in closer proximity to where he lives (in Georgia), or whether this ends up being the right spot. We certainly hope that."
But don't expect the A's to break the bank to re-sign Drew, who is represented by hard-driving agent Scott Boras. There's a feeling within the organization that the team can remain competitive without a big-name (or big-money) shortstop.
The A's won 94 games last season despite getting a combined .203 average and just 12 homers and 46 RBIs from their shortstops -- primarily Cliff Pennington and Drew, after he arrived in an August trade from Arizona.
Gomes hit 18 homers last season while platooning with Seth Smith in the D.H. spot, but his greatest value came with his veteran leadership for a young team.
"You never say goodbye for sure," Melvin said. "There are things that could play out. I like to keep that hope there, because he did mean so much to us."
Regardless of how the roster shapes up, assistant general manager David Forst said the A's are fortunate to have Melvin in the dugout directing it.
"Bringing him in about a year-and-a-half ago was the best decision we've made for this organization in quite some time," Forst said.
One player who will return: Starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, signed to a one-year, $3 million deal on Nov. 3 even though he has five games left on a 50-game ban for a positive drug test.
Melvin hasn't talked to Colon since he re-signed, but they did speak after the suspension initially came down in August.
"He was very remorseful," Melvin said. "I think in the back of his mind he was hoping that (the chance to re-sign with the A's) would arise. It's one thing if a guy might be a bad guy, but this is a true gentleman. He just made a mistake. He'll be embraced here again."
Though Colon has contract incentives tied to potential relief appearances, Melvin said he's viewed primarily as a starter.