Oakland A’s trade for Stephen Drew — some postgame thoughts

With so much A’s news breaking so late Monday night, it was tough cramming all the essential details into the game story. Here’s a rundown on the Stephen Drew trade, weaving in some details that made my story and some that didn’t:

We knew this trade might happen between the A’s and the Diamondbacks, it just happened a lot later than we expected. Trades are tougher to complete after the July 31 deadline, but as we saw from the Kurt Suzuki deal, they do happen. The A’s claimed Drew on waivers from Arizona on Saturday, meaning the teams had a 48-hour window to either work out a trade or the Diamondbacks could have pulled him back off waivers. How did the A’s acquire an everyday-caliber shortstop while only giving up a low Single-A infielder in Sean Jamieson? The timing of the deal is part of it. There’s only six weeks left in the regular season, making Drew a very short-term rental potentially. Plus, Arizona G.M. Kevin Towers told reporters that the chances were slim the Diamondbacks would retain Drew past this season. He has a $10 million mutual option for 2013, or else his team must pay a $1.35 million buyout and he becomes a free agent. The A’s are reportedly paying all of the remainder of Drew’s 2012 salary (about $1.93 million) and are also responsible for his buyout. Add it all together, and the A’s weren’t going to have to give up much for this guy.

What are the A’s getting with Drew? That’s the big question. He missed 137 games from July 2011 through June of this season with a fractured right ankle, and he hasn’t really gotten going offensively since then. Drew, 29, is four seasons removed from his best year as a major leaguer. In 2008, he hit .291 with 44 doubles, 11 triples, 21 home runs and 67 RBIs. If he can resemble even a shade of that player over the next six weeks, he will give the A’s more offense at shortstop than they’ve gotten this season from Cliff Pennington/Eric Sogard/Adam Rosales and so on …

A few of us grabbed Pennington for a few minutes after the game, and it was a bit of an awkward exchange as you would expect. A’s manager Bob Melvin hasn’t talked to Pennington yet, and surely that’s why Melvin declined to talk about Drew in length during his postgame news conference. He wants to talk with the current players on the roster who are affected by this move. “If they tell me something, I’ll let you know,” Pennington said. The A’s have to make moves to free up spots on the 25-man and 40-man rosters for Drew. Surely Pennington is a candidate to be designated for assignment, but there’s no guarantee that will happen. His speed could be valuable off the bench, and he’s a switch hitter. But we also don’t know much about him as a third baseman, so you wonder if he could serve as the primary backup infielder over Adam Rosales.

A’s starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy said after Monday’s game it was a bit of an uneasy feeling knowing that someone’s job status was in limbo because of the trade. He didn’t want to talk much about it. “That’s why you hope someone comes in and plays well right away to smooth that transition,” McCarthy said. Trades happen all the time in baseball, and players lose their jobs because of it. But any potential change is something to think about with this team. It’s a tight-knit bunch that has developed excellent chemistry during this surprising season. Any potential change will provide a jolt and require an adjustment period, and the A’s have to hope the chemistry isn’t affected for the worse. But second baseman Jemile Weeks spoke frankly: “The middle infield, in general, we’ve struggled offensively. Obviously a change was going to come.”

Assistant general manager David Forst acknowledged that Melvin’s familiarity with Drew played a part in the deal. Melvin managed Arizona from 2005 to 2009, so he managed Drew in his first three-plus years as a major leaguer. “I do know Stephen, he’s a good player,” Melvin said. “He’ll be a good fit here.”

More to come Tuesday afternoon …

Joe Stiglich