November 2010

Deadline day: 40-man roster

The A’s currently have 35 players on their 40-man roster, which must be set tonight in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings, to be held Dec. 6-9. The Draft, conducted in reverse order of finish from the previous season, allows teams to select players not on other teams’ 40-man rosters and add them to their own. The selected players must be kept on the team’s 25-man roster out of Spring Training or be offered back to the original team for half the selection price, or $25,000. Anyone signed when they were 19 or older who has spent three full seasons in the organization, as well as anyone signed at 18 or older who has spent four full seasons in the organization, is eligible for the Draft. Several teams choose not to participate in the Draft, but the A’s are often involved, as they were last year when they chose reliever Bobby Cassevah before returning him to the Angels. Recently acquired reliever Trystan Magnuson is expected to be added to Oakland’s 40-man roster so he won’t be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. Expect a couple other additions — including Michael Taylor — as well, but the A’s are likely to keep a spot or two open so as to leave the window open for December’s Draft.

Thoughts on Rajai’s departure

The A’s lost an outfielder today, but they also lost a gem of a person. Rajai, all by himself, seemingly accounted for nearly half of the smiles that came out of the A’s clubhouse while he was in Oakland. Nothing but upbeat and positive, he was great to cover and was always conversational — not out of necessity but just because — with us media types. I have to say I’ll miss walking into the clubhouse and hearing “Janey-Janes!!” come my way. Not sure where Raj got that one or when it started, but it was definitely a welcomed constant of my day.

That being said, I wish Raj nothing but the best in Toronto, where he’ll be closer to his Connecticut home. He played with Jose Bautista in Double-A and Fred Lewis in San Francisco, so he’s familiar with a few Blue Jays members. I know he’s still taking in the news, but he did seem excited about a new opportunity to earn regular playing time — something he seemed to only get when others were injured in Oakland. From watching him with the A’s, it did seem like he put up more consistent numbers with more consistent playing time. I’m not sure he was going to get that type of playing time next year given the arrival of David DeJesus, along with the presence of corner outfielders Ryan Sweeney, Conor Jackson and Chris Carter. Still, it’s hard to see a guy capable of 50-plus steals and exciting play land across the border. It was fun watching him learn from Rickey this year.

The move also means Jackson is likely geared for green and gold next year again, unless he’s non-tendered — something that was considered a good possibility before today’s news. Jackson never got to prove to Oakland and its fans what he’s capable of this year because of a neverending bout with injuries, and he wasn’t as big of a trade option for the A’s as Rajai because of those injuries. Assistant general manager David Forst did say the team received several inquires about Rajai, and he felt the two relievers they got in return are actually fairly close to Major League-ready. Neither Trystan Magnuson or Daniel Farquhar has surpassed the Double-A level, but the same could have been said of Andrew Bailey and Brad Ziegler when they jumped to the big leagues. Magnuson needs to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft, and it sounds like that will happen by Friday.

Lots of A’s news these past two weeks…not sure things will quiet down anytime soon, though, given we’re still a couple of weeks away from the Winter Meetings. In fact, the A’s have reportedly offered high-profile free agent Adrian Beltre — who turned down a two-year contract with Oakland last offseason — a five-year deal worth $64 million. More on that rumor, plus other Hot Stove rumblings, can be found here.

Davis to Blue Jays for two Minor Leaguers

The A’s are on the move yet again, and this time a fan favorite is headed to Toronto. Rajai Davis was just traded to the Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed pitchers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

Davis posted a .284 average with five home runs, 52 RBIs and a career-high 50 stolen bases for Oakland this season. He provided the A’s with much speed at the top of the lineup during his two-year stint with Oakland but never appeared to have a defined role with the club, despite staying healthy. Much of his playing time this year came as a result of injuries to Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney, Conor Jackson and Travis Buck, and this move further identifies a crowded outfield in Oakland, which acquired David DeJesus from the Royals last week.

Magnuson, 25, posted a 3-0 record with a 2.58 ERA in 46 relief appearances for the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate this season. A product of the 2007 Draft, he is 8-10 with a 3.53 ERA over three Minor League seasons.

Farquhar, meanwhile, recorded a 4-3 record with a 3.52 ERA and 17 saves alongside Magnuson in Double-A. The 25-year-old hurler was originally chosen by Toronto in the 10th round of the 2008 Draft and has posted a 8-9 record and 2.62 ERA with 39 saves in three professional seasons.

A’s give up Mazzaro in exchange for DeJesus

More on this to come soon at the A’s site. Billy Beane is slated to talk about his new outfielder on a conference call shortly

.

The A’s continued
quite the busy week Wednesday by acquiring outfielder David DeJesus from Kansas
City in exchange for young hurlers Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks.

The move
came just two days after it was announced Oakland won bidding rights to
negotiate with Japanese right-hander Hisoshi Iwakuma, with whom the A’s must feel
pretty confident regarding a contract if willing to let go of Mazzaro.

By packaging
the pair of pitchers, Oakland received a speedy outfielder who hit .318 with
five home runs and 37 RBIs for the Royals before missing the final two months
of the season due to a right thumb injury.

DeJesus, 30,
spent time in all three outfield slots — the most coming in right field — and
did not commit an error in 188 games. The left-handed hitter, who will make $6 million in 2011, has a 241-game
errorless streak dating back to Sept. 15, 2008 — numbers that speak volumes to
an A’s team that heavily focuses on defense.

He figures
to join an outfield that already boasts fellow speedster and former Royals
teammate Coco Crisp. Also in the outfield mix for Oakland are arbitration-eligible
players Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis and Conor Jackson, yet Wednesday’s move
signals thinking that one of them could be elsewhere by the start of the 2011
season.

In
bolstering their lineup, the A’s sacrificed one of their promising young
starters in Mazzaro, who showed flashes of brilliance in the midst of an
up-and-down season this year. He enjoyed a 5-2 mark and 2.86 ERA over his first
nine starts but witnessed a 0-6 record and 5.60 ERA over his next eight — the
latter results which landed him at Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 6. Mazzaro
returned to the club later in the month but only in a relief role.

Overall, the
24-year-old righty was 6-8 with a 4.27 ERA in 24 games — 18 starts — during
three stints with Oakland this year and was expected to be the frontrunner for
the fifth rotation spot in Spring Training if still around.

However,
Mazzaro’s name was usually the first mentioned whenever trade talks surrounding
Oakland emerged. After all, the A’s are already proud owners of starters Trevor
Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden and the rehabbing Josh
Outman. With Iwakuma also possibly in the fold soon, the club seemed pretty set
on using its surplus of pitching to upgrade a rather weak offense.

Marks, the
other name in the deal, spent the 2010 season with Class-A Kane County and
Class-A Stockton and combined for a 6-13 record and 4.87 ERA in 25 games, 24 of
them starts. The 22-year-old southpaw was originally drafted by the A’s in the
third round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

A’s statement on Iwakuma

The A’s this morning issued this statement in regards to landing negotiating rights with Iwakuma:

“The Oakland A’s are excited to have had our bid for Hisashi Iwakuma accepted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Out of respect for the posting process and for Mr. Iwakuma and his representative, we will not have any comment until the 30 day negotiation period comes to an end.”

More on Iwakuma can be found here.

A’s win negotiating rights to Iwakuma

The A’s have officially won the bidding for right-handed Japanese phenom Hisashi Iwakuma. The club now has 30 days to come to terms with Iwakuma on a contract. Texas and Seattle also submitted bids for the 29-year-old hurler.

The thinking behind this move is that the A’s will have a surplus of pitching that will allow them flexibility when trading for a big bat this winter. Trade bait would likely include, but not limited to, Vin Mazzaro and even Iwakuma.
More on this to come at the A’s site.

A’s pick up options on Crisp, Ellis

I just confirmed what Coco Crisp already announced on Twitter in the early hours of the morning: the A’s are picking up his $5.75 million option for next season. They’ve also retained franchise player Mark Ellis, picking up his $6 million option.

Both decisions were very much expected. Crisp’s lineup presence — when healthy — was a strong facet of Oakland’s game this season. His year was interrupted by injury three times, two of which were simply of the unlucky sort — fractured left pinkie finger in April and September sustained when sliding into a base. But when healthy, Crisp undoubtedly posted some of the best numbers on the team, hitting .279 with eight home runs, 38 RBIs and a career-high 32 stolen bases in 75 games. By keeping Crisp in the fold for 2011, the A’s are getting a huge leadoff threat and a strong defensive body in the outfield. 
Ellis, meanwhile, is a staple of this team. Thanks in part to a ridiculously good September, he finished the 2010 season with a team-best .291 average. His average has increased in each of his last two seasons, though his home run totals have decreased three straight years. Still, what Ellis gives to the club defensively is unmatched. He committed just three errors in 116 games at second base this year, ranking second in the AL only to Robinson Cano. Furthermore, his leadership abilities on this club go beyond any stat.
More on these announcements to come.

Twitter: @JaneMLB

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