The A’s weren’t joking about more additions coming to their bullpen. They’ve swung a trade with the Chicago Cubs, acquiring right-handed reliever Michael Wuertz in exchange for minor leaguers Richie Robnett and Justin Sellers. Wuertz, 30, is out of minor league options and surely will nab one of the seven bullpen spots the A’s figure to carry. “He’s a guy who’s been on our radar for a few years now,” A’s assistant GM David Forst said. “We’ve always liked his stuff. He’s always had good strikeout numbers. It’s a good fit for us. … He’s always been tough on righties because of his slider.”
This move comes just four days after free agent Russ Springer was signed, showing the A’s weren’t comfortable rolling the dice with a core of promising but inexperienced relievers. Wuertz, 30, went 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 45 appearances with Chicago last season and also spent some time at Triple-A. He’s struck out 270 in 262 1/3 career innings in the bigs, spread over five seasons. Wuertz will make $1.1 million this season and is under team control thru 2011.
Robnett, an outfielder, was one of the A’s two first-round picks in 2004 along with catcher Landon Powell. I know the team was very high on his physical tools (he’s 5-foot-9 but built like a linebacker, with big-time power). But he had trouble rounding into a complete player, and the A’s are pretty deep in outfield prospects. It didn’t help that he missed time early last season, reportedly to have a benign tumor removed from his stomach. The A’s picked Sellers, a middle infielder, out of high school in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. They liked his glove but he struggled to a degree with the bat. Scout.com ranked him as the A’s 47th best prospect this offseason, while Robnett didn’t crack the top 50.