2013 Executive of the Year, Billy Beane, has pulled off another trade of a former first round draft pick this morning with an intra-division trade that sends 2010 top-pick Michael Choice to the Texas Rangers in exchange for center fielder Craig Gentry and starting pitcher Josh Lindblom.
The trade comes less than a day after the A’s pulled off a trade with the Baltimore Orioles to send 2008 first round pick Jemile Weeks to the Orioles in exchange for veteran closer Jim Johnson. (Read Paul Rice’s take on that trade here).
In Gentry, who just celebrated his 30th birthday last week, the A’s are acquiring a top-defensive center fielder with good speed that will serve as insurance should Coco Crisp leave via free agency following this season. In 106 games last season with the Rangers he batted .280/.373/.386 with 24 stolen bases in 27 attempts.
Lindblom was 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA for the Rangers in eight appearances, five starts, last season.
The difficult part for many A’s fans with this trade is the departure of Choice, a prospect who had plus-power potential. For Choice, the move sends him back to his hometown for play for the team he grew up rooting for.
Choice appeared in nine games for the A’s down the stretch in 2013, batting .278/.316/.333 in 19 plate appearances. He hit .302/.390/.445 with 14 home runs and 89 RBI in 132 Triple-A games for the Sacramento River Cats.
Along with the addition of veteran starting pitcher Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson, the AL saves leader each of the past two seasons, this move signals that the A’s are solidly in “win-now” mode for 2014, though it is highly unlikely that this is the final product.
The A’s are actively pursuing trades for veteran starter Brett Anderson, and could trade the 25-year old lefty as early as this afternoon. They are also still looking to bring a power bat to their lineup. This could be accomplished in a trade of Anderson, or it could be a move to free up some salary to use on a free agent such as Nelson Cruz.
While Beane has used the winter meetings as a staging ground for future deals in the past, he is aggressively attacking the trade market this year before the meetings. It will be interesting to see what other moves he has up his sleeves this offseason. If nothing else, the departure of Chris Young offsets the acquisition of Scott Kazmir and a trade of Anderson would nearly offset the addition of Johnson, leaving some financial flexibility to still add to the roster via trade or free agency.
While the trade of Weeks for Johnson was an instant win, picking up a top bullpen arm for a player the A’s didn’t view as an everyday Major Leaguer, judgement will need to be held on this Choice trade until we see what moves come in its wake.
My gut (and some whispers around the rumor mill) tell me that Beane is not yet done, possibly not even close.