From the very beginning of December, the Oakland A’s have been busy making moves that will hopefully help the team in the 2014 season. What was even more surprising to many was that the Athletics made some major trades and acquisitions before the MLB winter meetings even began on December 9th. And it was clear from the get-go that the Athletics were trying to build their bullpen.
On December 2nd, the A’s traded infielder Jemile Weeks for Baltimore Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and then acquired the Cleveland Indians’ starter Scott Kazmir on a two-year, $22 million deal. The very next day, the Oakland A’s traded their top prospect, Michael Choice, and minor league infielder Chris Bostick for two Texas Rangers – right-handed outfielder Craig Gentry and pitcher Josh Lindblom. Finally, the A’s completed their 24-hour trading spree by sending Seth Smith down to the San Diego Padres for reliever Luke Gregerson.
After all of these moves, it seems as though there would not be much action surrounding the Oakland Athletics at the winter meetings. But the Athletics were not done.
On day two of the winter meetings, they traded their 2013 Opening Day starter Brett Anderson – along with two million dollars – to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for two mediocre pitchers in Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen. General Manager Billy Beane told ESPN that even though Anderson is a great talent and highly respected in the A’s front office, the Athletics are looking for younger pitching talent that the Athletics could mold and shape for many years to come.
Then on day three, the Athletics struck again when they traded their left handed reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals for their Minor League Player of the Year, Billy Burns. Finally, Bartolo Colon, the A’s ace in 2013, decided to sign with the Mets – finalizing the idea that he will not be returning to the O.co Coliseum in 2014.
So are the Oakland A’s done making moves? Beane told MLB radio yesterday that the 25-man roster is pretty much set and that he and Manager Bob Melvin are happy with who they have. However, Beane did mention that now it is time to build depth through the farm system.
This would entail acquiring some minor league standouts that would hopefully be developed into MLB stars within the next few years. The A’s have a surplus of starting pitches as of right now that includes Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker, Scott Kazmir, A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone, Dan Straily, Drew Pomeranz, Philip Humber, and Josh Lindblom. It is possible that some of the pitchers they just acquired could be part of a bigger scheme to send them elsewhere for younger talent.
If the Athletics are looking to trade anymore of their 2013 pitchers, I could see Milone being traded since he is the oldest of the starting pitchers that are left from last season at the ripe old age of 26. Even though his age is probably not a huge factor, the fact that he was optioned to Triple-A during the 2013 due to his struggles on the mound could mean that Athletics do not see him as a prominent force in their bullpen.
Straily is also in the same boat as Milone as he was optioned for Triple-A in June of 2013 and there is a possibility that they could be used as a package to entice a better deal. There are some rumors out there that the A’s have their eyes on Cincinnati Reds’ infielder Brandon Phillips to help beef up second base but I think the Athletics would need something more convincing in order to acquire him. Besides Milone and Straily, I do not see Gray, Parker or Griffin going anywhere due to their success in 2013.
If the Athletics are going to make any more moves during the MLB winter meetings, I do believe that most of the trades and acquisitions will involve minor league players. Perhaps the Athletics will leverage the Rule 5 Draft to their advantage today as well as look for more options when it comes to trading pitchers for younger players.
So, in a sense, the Athletics are done trading when it comes to their starting lineup, but when it comes to adding depth to their club as a whole, they still have some work to do.
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