The A’s continued their lineup overhaul Monday, announcing on the first day of the winter meetings the trade of Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians for minor-league infielder Joey Wendle.
Moss, who slugged 55 home runs for the A’s over the past two seasons, is the third 2014 All-Star the A’s have traded in the past five months. The A’s also dealt Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline in July and on Nov. 28 sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays for a four-player package.
Together, Moss, Donaldson and Cespedes combined to hit 71 of the A’s 146 home runs (49 percent) and drive in 246 of their 686 RBIs (36 percent) in 2014, despite Cespedes not being on the team for the full season. Still, A’s management stressed Monday that it is not looking past the 2015 season.
“We’re looking to compete again,” manager Bob Melvin said. “This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving it in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back, we like.”
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Specifically, general manager Billy Beane said the A’s have liked Wendle since he was in college, and had inquired about him at midseason with no luck. Wendle, 24, has yet to play above Double A, where he batted .253 with eight homers and 50 RBIs in 87 games last season. He lost time to a broken bone in his right hand.
But Beane said Wendle has good power for a middle infielder, is an “off-the-chart makeup guy,” and plays a position of need for the A’s. Wendle played primarily second base in the Indians’ organization since Cleveland drafted him in the sixth round in 2012.
Beane added, though, that the A’s are targeting Wendle to start the 2015 season at Triple-A, with the possibility of joining the A’s “at some point” during the season.
That puts Wendle somewhere in the middle of players the A’s have acquired via recent trades in terms of being ready for the major leagues. Cespedes was traded for Jon Lester in a move to try to salvage the second half of the 2014 season. For Donaldson, the A’s got a major-leaguer in Brett Lawrie, a minor-league infielder and two pitchers – Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman – with a combined six major-league appearances but who Melvin said could compete for rotation jobs next spring.
“We’re always trying to walk that balance between adding some youth and guys who are going to be here for a while, and guys who hopefully are going to be here very quickly – in some cases right away,” Beane said.
“We’ve done it before,” Beane said of trading established big-leaguers for lesser-known players. “The tough thing is you’re talking about players who were really good for us – very successful, period. It’s tough having to do this every few years, but unfortunately necessary.”
Melvin and Beane both cited the 2011 offseason – when the A’s traded three All-Stars in Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez, and then won the American League West in 2012 – as an indication the A’s intend to compete for the division crown again next season.
“I think we have to wait until it’s all said and done and all the moves are made, and we get into spring training,” Melvin said. “But with the roster we have, I do feel like it’ll be a very competitive roster.”
A’s notes – Melvin confirmed that trading Moss opens up time at first base for Ike Davis, whom the A’s signed to a one-year deal for 2015.
“He was targeted for a reason,” Melvin said. “We feel like he gives us a great option at first, not only defensively, but against right-handed pitching.”
Melvin said the A’s will probably platoon at first base, with new acquisition Billy Butler getting some at-bats against left-handers.
▪ Shortstop continues to be a priority for the A’s. Beane said the team is targeting a “younger player that can be there for a few years. … We’re willing to live with some growing pains for the long-term benefits.”
Giants notes – General manager Brian Sabean said the team’s sole focus is on Lester, the free-agent prize in the starting pitching market, who has reportedly whittled his list down to a handful of teams.
“We’re still on the board,” Sabean said. “One of five teams, I think. That’s all the news I have.”
He added that the Giants have reason to believe Lester “would maybe make a decision sooner than later.”
▪ Sabean reiterated that the Giants do not have an in-house replacement at third base for Pablo Sandoval, who recently signed a free-agent deal with Boston. He indicated that for both third base and left field the Giants may find better options through trades than on the free-agent market.