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A’s sign former D’back pitcher Gonzalez

The A’s just announced they’ve signed right-hander Edgar Gonzalez to a minor league contract, and that he’ll be a non-roster invitee to spring training. Although this move hardly makes waves, it’s not a surprise to see the A’s add another veteran w/major league starting experience to the mix. Gonzalez, who turns 26 on Feb. 23, began last season in Arizona’s starting rotation (six of his 17 appearances in ’08 were starts), but a sprained right elbow in late June sidelined him the rest of the season. He was just 20 when he broke in w/the Diamondbacks in 2003 and has a career mark of 14-21 with a 5.97 ERA in 80 games, 35 starts, over six seasons.

Throw him in the mix with Jerome Williams as a veteran who stands an outside shot of landing in the A’s rotation should nobody else really step up to claim a spot. But those odds seem slim. This may not be the last move we see before pitchers and catchers report Saturday. The A’s are on the lookout for some lefty relief. They’re interested in Andrew Sisco, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and reportedly will throw for scouts tomorrow.

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Pondering Abreu, Dunn

So we know that the A’s could make a run for free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Now Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe mentions in this story that they could still consider outfielders Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu. This could get interesting if only because the Angels also are said to be considering Abreu and Dunn. I wonder how much extra incentive there would be for these division rivals to sign one of those guys simply to keep the other team from getting him? Just food for thought, particularly w/the A’s thinking they can make a run at the defending AL West champs. From the A’s perspective, signing either Abreu or Dunn would create an even bigger logjam in their RF/1B/DH mix, and you’d have to think it would spur a follow-up trade of some kind. But with many of the remaining free agents looking like they could be available at bargain prices, anything’s possible, right?

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There’s no rush

You may have caught this post from SI’s Jon Heyman, reviving speculation that the A’s might go after free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera. One thing I find interesting regarding this crazy free agent shopping season: The activity we’re likely to see AFTER spring training begins, as opposed to teams hurrying to sign guys before camp. So when you examine the A’s roster on Feb. 14 when pitchers and catchers report, keep in mind things might change between then and Opening Day. Look at all those names still unsigned — Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Cabrera, etc. They may be on the sidelines once Cactus League games begin, but they’d still have plenty of time to sign and get in game-ready shape by the start of the regular season. I expect the A’s front office will be exploring its options long after players start trickling into Papago Park on Valentine’s Day.

Anyway, I’m curious how everybody feels about the Cabrera speculation that simply won’t die …

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A’s get more bullpen help

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.