The Oakland Athletics were having a quiet Major League Baseball Hot Stove Season up until early last week. Last Monday they signed free-agent pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two year, $22 million deal thus ending their pursuit of veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon.
They also traded minor league infielder Jemile Weeks and a player to be named later, for the Orioles’ closer Jim Johnson who will replace free agent closer Grant Balfour. Balfour is in talks with a handful of teams, including the New York Yankees. After coming off a career year in 2013, Balfour will command more money than the Athletics would be willing to spend. Coming off an All Star year in 2012, Johnson, the American League saves leader, went 3-8 with a 2.95 ERA and 50 saves with Baltimore last season.
Finally it seemed like general manager Billy Beane and the A’s were making some big deals this off season, yet Oakland’s movement did not end with the signing of one key player and the trade for another; the organization made quite a few other changes and decisions as well.
The A’s decided to tender contracts to each of their nine arbitration eligible players: outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith, infielders Brandon Moss and Jed Lowrie, relievers Jesse Chavez, Jerry Blevins, and Fernando Rodriguez, catcher John Jaso, and to the surprise of many, their longest tendered player, backup first baseman, Daric Barton. The A’s then turned around and traded Smith to the San Diego Padres for set up man, Luke Greggerson.
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In keeping Barton the A’s kept with their strategy of recent years emphasizing a focus on team depth and player on base percentage. Barton will likely back up the A’s usual platoon duo Brandon Moss and Nate Freiman.
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