Two weeks to the day after the A’s traded Trevor Cahill to the Arizona Diamondbacks, they dealt Gio Gonzalez to the Washington Nationals. What does that mean for closer Andrew Bailey? Something tells me it won’t take him two more weeks to be traded. Here’s a few tidbits from today’s news about the Gonzalez trade. Some of it’s in my story for tomorrow, some isn’t …
–Late on Friday the A’s announced that outfielder Jai Miller and backup catcher Landon Powell were designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for some of the players obtained in the Gonzalez deal. Miller shocked me more than Powell, just because Miller seemed to be squarely in the plans for this season’s outfield. But this also signals that the A’s plan to sign a free agent outfielder, in my opinion. GM Billy Beane said Friday that the team has been in talks with free agents, and during the winter meetings, he identified center field as a particular area where additions were needed. Collin Cowgill, obtained in the Cahill trade, will get a crack in center, but he hardly has the credentials to just be handed the job.
Powell signed a one-year contract with the A’s earlier this month, but Josh Donaldson and Anthony Recker also wait in the wings as potential backups to Kurt Suzuki. Remember: When a player gets designated for assignment, teams have 10 days to trade them, release them or send them to the minors (provided the player doesn’t get claimed by another team on waivers.) Powell said he’s hopeful of a trade. Beane said he hopes both players clear waivers and that they remain with Oakland. Both Powell and Miller are really solid dudes, the kind of guys you root for.
–I caught Gio Gonzalez on the phone after he’d finished taking his physical in Washington D.C. He had gotten a chance to talk with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and was impressed with Rizzo’s enthusiasm. Gonzalez also likes the Nationals’ chances to compete this season, though he was surprised they wound up trading for him. “I thought it was between Toronto, the Tigers and Boston,” he said. “I didn’t think in my wildest dreams the Nationals would be the main one. It was like ‘Whoa, where did you guys come out of?’”
–Beane says the A’s have simply been targeting the best overall prospects available in potential trades, but you’ll notice how pitching-heavy their returns were for Cahill and Gonzalez. I’d expect them to target hitters as they explore trading Bailey. Beane acknowledged that outfielders have come up in recent trade talk.
–The A’s are very encouraged with how Dallas Braden is progressing in his recovery from shoulder surgery. But it’s best not to get too excited about December updates on any pitcher coming off a long-term injury and rehab. Braden is crucial for the A’s rotation this season, and I still wouldn’t be surprised if he requires a few minor league starts in April to knock off some rust.
–Just 57 days until A’s pitchers and catchers report … Happy Holidays to everyone!!!