The A’s parted ways with starter Esteban Loaiza this morning, so don’t be surprised if you hear cheers from the team offices. Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, in a move striking of desperation, agreed to take the rest of Loaiza’s contract off the A’s hands. That adds up to about $8 million through 2008, and while that might be cheap for a big-revenue club like Los Angeles, it represents a significant chunk of change for the A’s.
One immediate reaction: The A’s must feel pretty decent about their rotation prospects for 2008. Looks like they envision Dan Haren, Chad Gaudin and Rich Harden as a solid nucleus, though why they would rely on Harden at this point is anyone’s guess. Based on the fact they dangled Joe Blanton earlier this season, it’s likely he’ll be their key trade chip this winter. And don’t lose sight of Lenny DiNardo, who’s been better than expected and Dallas Braden, who struck out 17 the other night for Sacramento.
With the money they freed up, perhaps they’ll be able to work some money into their budget to upgrade the offense. Nobody in the organization denies that the bats have become the biggest Achillies’ heel on this team, and not having the albatross of Loiaza helps.
Overall, the A’s have done a nice job freeing themselves from large contracts. Loaiza joins Jason Kendall and Milton Bradley among the departed. I’d suggest they call Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield and try to pawn Mark Kotsay and his $8 million 2008 salary on him, but no GM can be that giving twice in one lifetime, and Littlefield already took Matt Morris off the Giants’ hands.
As for the Dodgers, Loaiza is worth the risk. He’s a better option than David Wells, and with next season being a contract year, he’ll probably do big things.