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A’s deal Moss to Indians for second base prospect Wendle

Brandon Moss has been traded to Cleveland for minor league second baseman Joe  Wendle

Brandon Moss has been traded to Cleveland for minor league second baseman Joe
Wendle

The middle of the A’s 2014 batting order took another major hit Monday with the news the A’s have traded first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians, a deal whose origins I was the first to announce last week via Twitter.

In return, the A’s will get second baseman Joe Wendle, who has never played about Double-A. In 87 games with Akron last year, he hit .253 with a .311 on-base percentage, eight homers and 50 RBIs.

It was the second big move of the Winter Meetings’ first morning, the other being former A’s starting pitcher Jason Hammel signing a deal with the Cubs, the team from which the A’s got him last June.

Wendle, who missed much of last season with a hamate injury, is well-liked by scouts, who covet his offensive potential, particularly his extra-base muscle.

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Indians interested in prying Brandon Moss away from A’s

A's first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss is being sought by the Indians.

A’s first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss is being sought by the Indians.

The A’s are talking with the Indians in a deal Cleveland hopes will land them first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss.

A source close to the A’s said no deal was imminent, but it’s possible something could happen by the end of the week.

It was just last week that the A’s traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto for young veteran third baseman Brett Lawrie (24) and three Blue Jays prospects.

It seems that any deal involving Moss would likely follow the same course, Oakland getting younger and adding depth at the high minor league level with the hope that they’d get contributions from the newcomers sometime in 2015.

Moss, 31, is coming off surgery five weeks ago to repair hip damage and is currently on crutches, but his surgeon, Dr. Thomas Byrd, said after the Oct. 23 surgery that Moss should be good to go come spring training.

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Minor league jobs: Christenson moving up, Prieto staying on

The A’s made their minor league managing, coaching, instructing and training positions for 2015 official today.

It’s nice to see one of baseball’s great guys, Ryan Christenson, moving up the managerial ladder. He was at Class A last year and is moving up to take over Double-A Midland after he got Stockton into the California League playoffs last year.

Ariel Prieto, who spent the last few seasons coaching with the big league team and serving as interpreter for fellow Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, is staying with the organization, moving back to the job he had previously as the pitching coach for the A’s Arizona Rookie League team.

And Steve Scarsone, who managed the last two years in Sacramento, will move to Nashville with the A’s moving their Triple-A affiliate there.

Here’s the complete release from the A’s:

Garvin Alston was named minor league pitching coordinator after spending the previous six seasons as minor league pitching rehab coordinator.  Greg Sparks will take over as minor league hitting coordinator after spending three seasons as hitting coach at Triple-A Sacramento.  Sparks is in his 18th season in the A’s organization, which includes eight years as minor league roving hitting instructor from 2004-11.  Juan Navarrette is in his 21st season with the A’s and will be the minor league defensive, base running and bunting coordinator. Craig Lefferts, who spent the previous 12 seasons as pitching coach in the A’s farm system, replaces Alston as minor league rehab pitching coordinator.  Aaron Nieckula was named minor league field coordinator and will oversee minor league spring training, extended spring training and instructional league.

Steve Scarsone was named manager of the A’s new Triple-A affiliate at Nashville.  This will be his third consecutive season as manager of the A’s Triple-A club as he guided Sacramento to a 79-65 record in each of the previous two seasons.  Scarsone now has a 568-554 record in eight seasons as a minor league manager, including stints in the A’s system with Midland from 2011-12, Stockton in 2010 and Kane County in 2009.  Don Schulze and Webster Garrison earn their first Triple-A assignments in 2015 as pitching coach and hitting coach, respectively.  This will be Schulze’s 10th year as a pitching coach in the A’s system, including the last four at Double-A Midland, and Garrison’s 15th as a coach or manager.  Brad LaRosa returns as the athletic trainer and Terence Brannic was named strength coach.

Ryan Christenson takes over as manager at Midland after leading Single-A Stockton to an 85-55 record and a playoff appearance in 2014.  He made his managerial debut in 2013 at Single-A Beloit after spending six seasons as a player in the Major Leagues, including four with the A’s from 1998-2001.  John Wasdin will be the pitching coach on Christenson’s staff for the third consecutive season and Eric Martins was named hitting coach.  Martins served as a scout for the A’s for the past seven seasons.  Justin Whitehouse returns as the athletic trainer and A.J. Seeliger is the new strength coach.

Rick Magnante assumes the managerial reins at Stockton, his 13th season as a minor league manager.  He has a 457-497 record in his previous 12 seasons, including 55-84 last season with Single-A Beloit.  Rick Rodriguez will be the pitching coach after two seasons in that capacity at Sacramento.  Rodriguez is in his 31st season in the A’s organization, which includes seven seasons as a player and two years as bullpen coach in Oakland (2011-12). Brian McArn returns as hitting coach, his 18th in that role with the A’s and his fourth at Stockton (2011-12, 14).  Travis Tims returns as athletic trainer and Henry Torres takes over as strength coach.

Fran Riordan joins the A’s organization as manager at Single-A Beloit after spending 14 years managing in independent leagues.  Riordan spent the last four seasons at the helm of Florence in the Frontier League, guiding the Freedom to a 190-194 record over that stretch. Steve Connelly, who had his first professional coaching assignment as pitching coach at Short Season Single-A Vermont last year, takes over those duties at Beloit in 2015.  Lloyd Turner returns for his second consecutive season as hitting coach with the Snappers and Brian Thorson returns as athletic trainer.  JD Howell will serve as strength coach.

In addition to his duties as field coordinator, Nieckula will manage the A’s Short Season club at Vermont, his ninth year as a manager in the A’s farm system.  He has spent the last two seasons at Midland and guided the RockHounds to a 77-63 record and the Texas League Championship in 2014.  Carlos Chavez will be the pitching coach after two seasons with the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League. Tommy Everidge returns for his second consecutive season as Vermont’s hitting coach and Toshi Nagahara returns as the athletic trainer.

Ruben Escalera will manage the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League for the second consecutive season and ninth season overall.  He previously managed from 2002-08 and spent the five years in between in various roles as an instructor in the A’s system.  Ariel Prieto was named pitching coach after serving as a coach on the Major League staff the previous three seasons.  He previously served as pitching coach with the A’s rookie club from 2009-11 and will also serve as a liaison between the A’s Dominican Republic and United States based operations.  Juan Dilone returns for his seventh season as hitting coach and Gabriel Ortiz is in his second season as coach.  Chris Lessner returns as the athletic trainer.

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Samardzija targeted by pitching-hungry clubs

Jeff Samardzija is still a member of the A's rotation. How long that will last, it's hard to say.

Jeff Samardzija is still a member of the A’s rotation. How long that will last, it’s hard to say.

It may be a while before Jeff Samardzija knows where he’s going to be pitching this season.

He’s currently a member of the A’s starting rotation, and there is a chance he will remain there. But there is at least as big a chance that he will wind up elsewhere.

The White Sox and the Red Sox are front-and-center in their pursuit of the right-hander. And while the Braves have made their interest in Samardzija known, the pieces don’t seem to fit for the A’s, sources close to the club said.

And there may yet be another suitor or two yet to make themselves an upgrade heading into 2015.

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A’s could use Lawrie at second if Headley is in their future

Brett Lawrie could be the A's third baseman in 2015, or he could be the second baseman.

Brett Lawrie could be the A’s third baseman in 2015, or he could be the second baseman.

The A’s trade of Josh Donaldson Friday may seem to make little sense when looked at as a solo exercise on the part of general manager Billy Beane.

But if it’s taken as part of a package, the deal in which the A’s sent their All-Star third baseman to Toronto in exchange for four players – including third baseman Brett Lawrie –

Oakland management is high on, could well be part of a series of roster maneuvers that might have a chance to keep the A’s competitive in 2015.

The A’s have lost (or will soon lose) starters Jon Lester and Jason Hammel, reliever Luke Gregerson and shortstop Jed Lowrie as free agents. That’s a load and a half to make up during the winter, and it’s possible it can’t be done.

But there are other options out there.

I heard from a source Friday that the A’s are talking with the Braves about outfielder Justin Upton and/or catcher Evan Gattis, two power hitters who would grace any big league lineup. The cost would be astronomical – starter Jeff Samardzija – but the return would be seriously good.

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A’s add Ike Davis to first base mix; a deal may not be far off

The A’s added to their stockpile of first base possibilities for the 2015 season Sunday, trading with the Pittsburgh Pirates to get Ike Davis.

In dealing to get Davis, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates three days earlier, the A’s sent international slot position 27 to Pittsburgh while getting international slot spot 86 in exchange.

This means Oakland, which had to designate outfielder Andrew Brown to open space on the 40-man roster for the left-handed hitting Davis, has less money ($270,000 less) available to spend on international free agents without penalty while the Pirates have that much more.

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A’s Beane is looking for `the next GM hire’

The A’s front office just lost a key man to a general manager’s job with Farhan Zaidi going to the Los Angeles Dodgers as GM, a move that was made official Thursday.

“Our goal now is to find the next general manager hire,’’ A’s GM Billy Beane said Friday morning.

In the last dozen years, the A’s have lost three high-ranking members of the front office to GM jobs, J.P. Ricciardi to Toronto after the 2001 season and Paul DePodesta to the Dodgers just before the 2004 season in 2004 and now Zaidi.

And that doesn’t count the ongoing requests from other clubs interested in hiring away Beane’s top lieutenant, David Forst. Forst, the A’s GM-in-waiting, has opted to stay put and is in his 15th year with the organization.

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A’s have a gap to fill with the move to Dodgers of Zaidi

It will be interesting to see if the A’s move quickly to fill the void left Tuesday with the news that assistant general manager/director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi will be moving south to take over as general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zaidi, who has been working as part of the A’s brain trust for the last 10 years, will be named Dodgers’ GM by Dodgers’ President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman later this week, has been a key adviser of A’s general manager Billy Beane for the last five years.

The Philippines-born Zaidi, 37, was given the title of assistant general manager before the 2014 season, his fifth as the director of baseball operations.

David Forst, the long-time presumed heir to Beane, remains as the club’s assistant general manager. He has been with the A’s for 15 years.

Still, Beane has been used to being able to call on a small group of long-time dedicated baseball pros, including Forst, Zaidi, director of player personnel Billy Owens (16 years), director of pro scouting Dan Feinstein (the last three years and a stint from 1994-2004), director of player development Keith Lieppman (23 years) and director of scouting Eric Kubota (30 years).

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MLB’s `qualifying offer’ system qualifies as a mess for the A’s

Jon Lester will be pitching elsewhere in 2015 as a free agent, and the A's won't be getting any compensation for his departure as a free agent.

Jon Lester will be pitching elsewhere in 2015 as a free agent, and the A’s won’t be getting any compensation for his departure as a free agent.

While the Tigers have made a qualifying offer to their ace, Max Scherzer, and the Royals have made a qualifying offer to their ace, James Shields, the A’s have done no such thing with their ace, Jon Lester.

They haven’t done it with Jason Hammel, who isn’t an ace but who was very good after getting off to a rocky start with his new club.

The deadline is this evening, 9 p.m., and it won’t happen in either case.

Why? Well, baseball rules don’t allow it. The only players who can get qualifying offers are those who have been with their 2014 team for the entire season. In the case of Lester and Hammel, they came to the A’s in mid-season trades and aren’t eligible for a qualifying offer, which this season is pegged at $15.3 million.

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