Call it hitting for the offseason cycle: four major transactions in 24 hours.
The Oakland Athletics shook up their roster Dec. 2-3, remaking their bullpen, altering their outfield and bolstering their rotation in the process.
First, the A's agreed to a two-year, $22 million deal with left-hander Scott Kazmir, multiple media outlets reported. He fills the rotation vacancy left by right-hander Bartolo Colon, who is a free agent.
Kazmir, 29, made an impressive comeback with the Cleveland Indians in 2013, going 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA. He was particularly effective in the second half of the season, when his ERA was 3.38.
After finding success with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2005 through 2008, Kazmir struggled after he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels in 2009. He dropped out of the majors in 2011 and pitched in an independent league.
The Athletics' second move brought in closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles. Oakland sent infielder Jemile Weeks to Baltimore, which also will receive a player to be named.
Johnson steps into the closer role vacated by Grant Balfour, who is a free agent. Johnson led the American League in saves each of the last two seasons, but the Orioles were willing to deal him because they didn't want to go to arbitration with him this winter and pay him at least $10 million.
In the second trade, the A's acquired veteran outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Michael Choice and minor league infielder Chris Bostick.
Gentry, 30, is a career .280 hitter, a stolen-base threat and can play any outfield spot. He hit .304 in 2012 and came back with a .280 season in 2013.
He will take the place of outfielder Seth Smith, who was sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson.
Gregerson, 29, went 6-8 with four saves and a 2.71 ERA in 73 appearances last season. He figures to serve as a setup man ahead of Johnson.
Lindblom, 26, will be pitching for his fourth team in four years. He was strictly a reliever with the Dodgers and Phillies in 2011-12, but he made five starts in eight appearances for the Rangers in 2013. He was 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA for Texas and has a career record of 5-8, 3.82.
2013: 96-66, first place in AL West, lost to Tigers in AL Division Series
TEAM MVP: Josh Donaldson, the A's third baseman, is the unquestioned MVP of the team. His defense was Gold Glove caliber, and he was among the league leaders in on-base percentage, slugging, RBIs and batting average. He had 14 game-winning RBIs and he hit .337 with 19 runs, five homers and 16 RBIs in September as the A's locked up the division title with a week to play. He finished fourth in AL MVP voting.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: OF Chris Young, obtained from Arizona last winter, hit .200 this season, unable to get accustomed to a platoon role with the A's, who like to mix and match at many positions. His average was second lowest in the league among players with at least 350 plate appearances. Only one A's player has finished with a lower average with as many plate appearances: Dick Green hit .190 in 1970. Also in the running for top disappointment: shortstop Hiro Nakajima, signed with much fanfare in the offseason; he spent the entire year at Triple-A Sacramento.
TOP PROSPECT: SS Addison Russell, the A's top pick in the 2012 draft, is rated the team's top overall prospect and he is expected to be Oakland's shortstop potentially as soon as 2015. Russell, 19, had some early-season injuries but finished with 17 homers, 60 RBIs and 21 steals at Class A Stockton. He also joined Triple-A Sacramento for the end of the season, going 1-for-13 in three games. He is likely to be at Double-A Midland in 2014.
--LHP Fernando Abad was traded by the Nationals to the A's on Nov. 25 in exchange for minor league OF John Wooten. Abad, 27, was 0-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 37 2/3 innings for Washington in 2013. He is likely to be used in middle relief for the A's, although Oakland's bullpen is somewhat unsettled with closer Grant Balfour being a free agent. Wooten, 22, hit .257 with 20 homers in 133 games at low Class A this year.
--INF Nick Punto signed a free agent deal with the A's on Nov. 13, a one-year, $3 million contract with a vesting option for 2015. The deal includes a $2.75 million option with a $250,000 buyout for 2015 based on Punto's ability to stay healthy, CBSSports.com reported. The 36-year-old veteran batted .255 with two home runs and 21 RBIs in 116 games this past season with the Dodgers while splitting time between third base, shortstop and second base. The switch hitter played with four teams over the past four seasons. He has a career .248 batting average.
--OF Chris Young's $11 million option and C Kurt Suzuki's $8.5 million option were not picked up by the A's. Young, 30, hit .200/.280/.379 with 12 homers, 40 RBIs and 10 steals in 107 games with Oakland this year. Suzuki, 30, batted .303 in 15 games with Oakland after returning to the A's in a late-season trade. He hit .232/.290/.337 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 79 games for the Nationals this year.
--RHP Sonny Gray had surgery Oct. 17 to repair a fracture in his non-pitching thumb. A screw was inserted to stabilize the digit, which also sustained ligament damage when it was struck by a comebacker in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Tigers. Gray should be ready for the start of spring training, as the recovery time was projected at eight to 10 weeks. Gray went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA during the regular season and was 1-1 in the postseason.
--RF Josh Reddick likely will undergo surgery on his right wrist. Reddick injured the wrist the first week of the season and it caused him problems throughout the season, requiring two trips to the disabled list. Reddick had left wrist surgery in the offseason before 2012, and he was fully healthy for spring training.
--RHP Jarrod Parker will rest his strained right forearm in the offseason, and he will not need surgery, the A's announced Oct. 14. Parker experienced elbow discomfort during his Game 3 start of the AL Division Series, and manager Bob Melvin said afterward that Parker did not appear to be quite right throughout the start, with his velocity down and the late life on his fastball missing. Parker, the Athletics' No. 2 starter, had Tommy John surgery in 2009.
--OF Coco Crisp will be back with the A's in 2014, as the team picked up Crisp's $7.5 million option. Crisp, the A's leadoff hitter, is the team's first 20-20 player since Ruben Sierra in 1993.
--RHP Bartolo Colon is a strong consideration to return to Oakland as a free agent. The All-Star and 18-game winner told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would like to re-sign with the A's if given the opportunity, and general manager Billy Beane said the team would be "foolish" to say the A's don't have "real interest in bringing him back."
--LHP Brett Anderson is likely to be back with Oakland in 2014 despite three consecutive injury-plagued seasons. General manager Billy Beane picked up Anderson's $8 million option. Anderson, the A's Opening Day starter, is a potential trade piece for the A's this winter; the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Toronto remains interested in Anderson, sending a scout to watch him at the end of the season.
--SS Addison Russell, the A's top prospect, will start next season "at least" at Double-A Midland, according to general manager Billy Beane, who added that from there, "anything can happen," a possible indication that Oakland will bring Russell up at some point in 2014. Oakland's shortstop, Jed Lowrie, is a free agent after 2014, and the A's also prefer him defensively at second base.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Our guys are frustrated with the way the game went and some of the at-bats, but, again, we still have a lot to be proud of. We expected to go a little farther than this this year, but at the end of the day, we did have a great season. A little more disappointing this year certainly than it was last year." -- Manager Bob Melvin, after the A's season ended with their Game 5 loss in the American League Division Series. The A's fell to 1-12 in their past 13 potential postseason series clinching games, all in the ALDS. They lost Game 5 in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2012 and now, 2013.
After finishing second in the league in ERA and third in runs, the A's feel pretty good overall about their overall state -- the pitching is strong and the offense is doing its job. Almost everyone is expected back with the exception of the team's two All-Stars, closer Grant Balfour and 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, both free agents. Oakland acquired replacements for both. The team is in good shape, especially when it comes to pitching; there is plenty of good young talent in the rotation and also in the bullpen.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Another bat to protect slugger Yoenis Cespedes in the lineup might be on the wish list, but hard to achieve with a limited payroll. Should the A's search for a hitter, a DH or a right-handed hitting first baseman might fit the bill.
ARRIVALS: INF Nick Punto (free agent from Dodgers), LHP Fernando Abad (trade with Nationals), RHP Jim Johnson (trade with Orioles), RHP Luke Gregerson (trade with Padres), OF Craig Gentry (trade with Rangers), RHP Josh Lindblom (trade with Rangers), LHP Scott Kazmir (free agent from Indians)
DEPARTURES: OF Chris Young (free agent, signed with Mets), OF Seth Smith (traded to Padres), INF Jemile Weeks (traded to Orioles)
FREE AGENTS: RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Bartolo Colon, C Kurt Suzuki
The A's do not spend much money on the bullpen, and there are two or three candidates to close on the current roster, so Balfour is expected to depart. Colon told the San Francisco Chronicle he'd like to return to Oakland, and general manager Billy Beane said the team would be foolish not to have real interest in doing that, so there's a decent chance the 40-year-old will be back.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Brandon Moss, OF Josh Reddick, 1B Daric Barton, LHP Jerry Blevins, RHP Jesse Chavez, RHP Pat Neshek, C John Jaso, RHP Fernando Rodriguez, RHP Luke Gregerson, RHP Jim Johnson, OF Craig Gentry
The A's typically sign most or all of their arbitration-eligible players to maximize their options during spring training. Barton, for instance, was signed to a non-guaranteed deal last winter for maximum flexibility -- and he survived being designated for assignment twice during the season to make the playoff roster.
IN LIMBO: LHP Brett Anderson
Anderson's $8 million option was be exercised, but the amount of that deal plus Anderson's limited availability the past three seasons because of injuries make him a prime trade possibility for Oakland.
--RF Josh Reddick (sprained right wrist) plans to undergo offseason surgery, fixing an ailment that led to two disabled-list stints in 2013. He expects to be ready for spring training.
--RHP Sonny Gray (torn ulnar collateral ligament and fracture in left thumb) underwent surgery Oct. 17 to insert a screw in the thumb. He should be ready for spring training.
--RHP Jarrod Parker (strained right forearm) will not need offseason surgery. He is expected to be at full strength for spring training.
--C John Jaso (concussion) was expected to see specialist Dr. Micky Collins in Pittsburgh in order to be cleared for full activity. Jaso, who missed the final two-plus months of the season, was hitting in instructional league games in Phoenix but was not yet OK'd to begin catching duties next season as mid-October.
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