A's acquire Gentry, Gregerson on another busy day
Oakland picks up outfielder, setup man in trades, also adds reliever Lindblom
OAKLAND -- When he finally came up for breath after a 24-hour shopping binge -- one of his biggest to date that netted him five players in four separate moves -- Billy Beane began to laugh.
"This is fun," said the A's general manager. "That's why we do the job, to have days like this, and we've always had a pretty fraternal group here. It made for a late night for everyone, but I think we're satisfied with the outcomes. As you can imagine, it was at a pretty frenetic pace, and we're satisfied we were able to pull everything together."
It all began Monday morning, when Beane signed right-hander Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal that is expected to be finalized Wednesday. By evening, he had swung a deal for another All-Star in closer Jim Johnson, giving up Jemile Weeks in the process. But the GM wasn't done.
On Tuesday, Beane gained further traction in his push to take his club on a deep postseason run, first by making an intra-division deal with the Rangers and acquiring outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom in exchange for Michael Choice, Oakland's top outfield prospect. Texas also received Minor League infielder Chris Bostick in the swap.
Hours later, the A's announced they had traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres for yet another bona fide reliever, righty Luke Gregerson.
Gregerson has been one of the most reliable setup men in baseball over the last few years, most recently posting a 2.71 ERA over 66 1/3 innings in 2013 with San Diego. The 29-year-old has 16 saves, a 2.88 ERA and 352 strikeouts against 107 walks in 363 relief appearances over his five-year big league career.
Oakland's already solid bullpen -- which also employs Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Dan Otero, Jerry Blevins and Jesse Chavez -- now looks like one of the best in the game.
"We had some spots we needed to fill with some of the guys that we lost," said Beane. "I think we addressed the areas we needed to, and in some cases, I think we've even upgraded, particularly when you look at the bullpen, with the addition of Johnson and Gregerson. I think we all feel real good about where we are, and the next step is putting it on the field."
Gentry spent the last two seasons as Texas' fourth outfielder, usually playing against left-handed pitching. He was the Rangers' best defensive outfielder, and he has tremendous speed. In 227 games and 556 plate appearances, Gentry hit .292 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .389 slugging percentage. The 30-year-old also stole 37 bases in 47 attempts.
Gentry's role will likely remain unchanged in Oakland, where he is expected to play all three outfield positions, according to manager Bob Melvin. He could potentially platoon with the left-handed-hitting Josh Reddick in right field -- though Melvin maintains "Reddick is our right fielder" -- and lend a backup option to Coco Crisp in center.
"We were very specific in what we wanted and the need, and it's very hard to get a good right-handed defensive center fielder," Beane said. "There's not a lot of them out there, and of the guys that are out there, we thought Craig was the best fit for us. It wasn't exactly a guy Texas wanted to give up, so it's not like the package came easy to us, but the need was definitely there."
Gentry doesn't so much mind what his role is as much as how he fulfills it.
"Hopefully I can do whatever I can to help the team keep winning and keep up their streak," the outfielder said. "This is definitely a great ballclub. Playing against them, they handle themselves well, they play hard. That team is the exact type of player I am. I feel like I'm going to fit in well over there, and I'm excited about it, and hopefully, like I said, we can ... I can help the team maybe win another division title."
The A's have won two in a row, and their pursuit of a third has surely intensified this week, made clear by their willingness to part with Choice, who now appears to be the leading candidate to be the Rangers' starting left fielder.
Oakland's 2010 first-round Draft pick hit .302 with 29 doubles, 14 home runs, 89 RBIs, a .390 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage in 132 games at Triple-A Sacramento last season, and he was expected to be given every opportunity to break camp with the A's for the first time next year.
"It's tough to lose a guy like that," said Melvin, "but to get somebody that you feel like is a good fit and you feel will make you better right now, you have to balance that."
Lindblom was 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in eight games, including five starts, over three stints with Texas in 2013. The starts were his first as a Major Leaguer and his first at any level since 2010 at Triple-A Albuquerque. He also went 8-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 20 games, 18 starts, with Triple-A Round Rock this past season.
Oakland's pitching depth abounds, which is why Beane can afford to potentially use it as bait. Oft-injured lefty Brett Anderson, who will make $8 million in 2014, has been the subject of numerous trade rumors, and he's likely to be on the move by year's end.
"It'd be too early to close up shop, and it'd be foolish not to look for creative ways to improve the entire organization," Beane said. "I can't say that it's the end of it, I can't say that it isn't. There's a lot of winter left, and a lot can happen."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.