Oakland managed to cram a winter's worth of activity into just over a week, making three trades and signing a free-agent starter the first week of December, then trading two left-handers during the winter meetings.
The flurry of transactions brought in a new starter, Scott Kazmir, who had a bounce-back season with Cleveland last year, and a fourth outfielder, Craig Gentry. Most significant, for the first time ever, the team will spend big money for a closer, dealing for Baltimore's Jim Johnson, who is likely to make more than $10 million in arbitration.
The A's could have the best bullpen in baseball after adding Johnson and right-hander Luke Gregerson; manager Bob Melvin estimated that the club has four or five set-up men. Gentry provides a right-handed hitting outfield option -- and he's handled a bench role before, unlike Chris Young, who struggled with the role last year. Considering that A's center fielder Coco Crisp tends to miss time on the DL each year and the fact that Josh Reddick had a down season, Gentry could be a real key for the platoon-happy A's. Oakland wanted him so much, the team parted with its top outfield prospect, Michael Choice.
Officially gone: longest-tenured A's player Jerry Blevins, a lefty reliever dealt to Washington for a minor-leaguer; Opening Day starter Brett Anderson, off to Colorado for lefty Drew Pomeranz and a minor-leaguer; and DH Seth Smith, swapped for Gregerson. Blevins' departure opens the door for Pomeranz to potentially make the big-league deal as a reliever.
In addition, as expected, the A's lost their two All-Star free agents, starter Bartolo Colon, who signed with the Mets, and Balfour, weighing an offer with Baltimore to replace Johnson.
The A's don't have any apparent major needs remaining, though another big bat in the lineup wouldn't go amiss for protection for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
--RHP Luke Gregerson could be one of three primary set-up men, along with LHP Sean Doolittle and RHP Ryan Cook, and considering that Cook struggled a bit late in the season, Gregerson has a chance to supplant him as the top right-handed set-up option. Gregerson was acquired from the Padres in early December.
--LHP Drew Pomeranz will be stretched out as a starter, according to assistant general manager David Forst, but with the trade of LHP Jerry Blevins, it's obvious that Pomeranz's best chance to make the Opening Day roster is in relief. Pomeranz was acquired during the winter meetings for LHP Brett Anderson, and he worked in relief for Colorado late last season.
--RHP Sonny Gray, whose left (non-throwing) hand was broken by a line drive by Prince Fielder during the ALDS, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will be throwing off the mound by the end of December. Gray will keep a pin in his hand, but it does not affect him in any way.
--OF Josh Reddick began to rehab his surgically repaired right wrist the first week of December. Reddick, who had trouble with the wrist most of the season after injuring it in April, said he will start swinging the bat Jan. 1.
--INF Alberto Callaspo could be a platoon option at first base next season, according to manager Bob Melvin. With the arrival of INF Nick Punto, there might be more at-bats for Callaspo platooning with Brandon Moss. Melvin does not believe Callaspo's short stature will be an issue at the position.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We feel like we're better. And that's the ultimate goal. We won 94 games two years ago, we won 96 games last year, and we feel we're a better team. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it gives us a good feeling going into spring training." -- A's manager Bob Melvin.
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. 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), LHP Drew Pomeranz (trade with Rockies)
DEPARTURES: OF Chris Young (free agent, signed with Mets), OF Seth Smith (traded to Padres), INF Jemile Weeks (traded to Orioles), LHP Brett Anderson (traded to Rockies), LHP Jerry Blevins (traded to Nationals), RHP Bartolo Colon (free agent, signed with Mets)
FREE AGENTS: RHP Grant Balfour, C Kurt Suzuki
With the acquisition of RHP Jim Johnson, Balfour is expected to depart.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Brandon Moss, OF Josh Reddick, 1B Daric Barton, 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.
--RF Josh Reddick (sprained right wrist) had offseason surgery, fixing an ailment that led to two disabled-list stints in 2013. He began to rehab his wrist the first week of December. Reddick said he would start swinging the bat Jan. 1. 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.
- Sports & Recreation
- Luke Gregerson
- Craig Gentry
- Josh Reddick
- Bob Melvin
- Drew Pomeranz
- Jerry Blevins