Drew still drawing interest from A's

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Drew still drawing interest from A's

NASHVILLE -- The A's are still in the mix for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. A's general manager Billy Beane noted that he would meet with Drew's agent Scott Boras, "probably sooner than later," at the Winter Meetings. Drew was acquired by Oakland on August 20 in a trade with the Diamondbacks. He hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the A's. The patient shortstop drew 18 walks and played sound defense as he recovered from an ankle fracture he sustained in 2011 with Arizona. Oakland had a mutual option on Drew but declined it after the season. Had Drew and the A's decided to stay together, the shortstop would have earned 10 million in 2013. Now the A's have the opportunity to sign Drew for multiple years at a more reasonable annual rate."Shortstop is a position that we are focused on right now," Beane said from his suite in the Gaylord Opryland hotel. "Beyond that I don't see a lot of glaring needs." A's manager Bob Melvin said that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima's name has come up in internal meetings. Beane admitted that he could also be somebody the team looks at.Beane said the organization isn't interested in rushing first round pick Addison Russell to take over at shortstop, and that prospect Grant Green isn't considered to be an option there either. Green could be in the mix for a job at second base, though.
RELATED: 2013 A's roster breakdown -- Second base
Don't hold you breath for the A's to fill the void at shortstop at the Winter Meetings. The term "market makers" came up frequently in talks with Beane, and the team's strategy is to wait and see what the market dictates by evaluating what other offers are on the table for the players they are interested in. In short, the reigning General Manager of the Year is comfortable waiting. If things don't go well on the free agent market, the A's are open to acquiring a shortstop via trade, but they aren't interested in moving any of their starting pitchers to make it happen. In order to land a quality shortstop, it will likely cost them pitching in return. That would limit the A's to using prospects as trade chips. Oakland has six Major League-caliber starting pitchers but they are always concerned with depth in the starting rotation. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily are all candidates to make the starting rotation. "One of the reasons we are so reluctant to move our young guys is because it's one thing to move them, but to replace them is so challenging," Beane said. It also remains a possibility that Oakland could still sign free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy to give them even more depth on the mound. The A's have been in contact with McCarthy and his agent, but noted there's still a lot of time left to sign players. "I would expect given his talents and the lack of starting pitching out there that he is going to be attractive to a lot of teams," Beane said of McCarthy. When on the mound McCarthy was extremely effective. Behind the scenes he helped the young pitchers prepare themselves. He had a career-best 3.24 ERA in 2012, and 1.95 walks per nine innings, which ranked him eighth among AL pitchers with 100 or more innings. "That door is always open until it's closed," Melvin said of McCarthy. In addition to the young starting pitchers, Beane said he wouldn't want to part with relievers Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook. Those are his two most valuable bullpen trade chips. With rumors flying around the lobby like baseballs from a Jugs Pitching Machine, keep everything in stride. The A's will be taking their time at the Winter Meetings.

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

The Oakland A’s avoided arbitration with right-handed pitchers Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks and catcher Stephen Vogt when they agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2017 season, the club announced today.

Gray went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts last year in a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list.  His ERA was more than 2½ runs higher than his previous career high and his five wins follow back-to-back 14-win seasons.  Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA 76 games over his first three seasons with the A’s and now has a 3.42 ERA in his career, which ranks ninth in Oakland history.

Hendriks compiled a 3.76 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 53 relief appearances in his first season with the A’s.  He had an 8.27 ERA and .394 opponents batting average in 11 games before going on the disabled list in early May with a strained right triceps.  Hendriks then logged a 2.23 ERA and .222 opponents batting average in 42 games following his return from the DL.

Vogt played in a career-high 137 games last year and hit .251 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI.  He also had career bests with 123 hits, 30 doubles and 46 extra base hits.  Vogt was named to his second consecutive American League All-Star team.

The only remaining arbitration eligible player on the A’s roster is Khris Davis.

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Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto's 11th trade this offseason rounded out the Seattle Mariners roster with his top target.

"I've probably spent more time through the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we've done," the general manager said Wednesday.

Seattle made pair of deals on Wednesday that ultimately landed Smyly, a pitcher Dipoto thinks will fill out the Mariners starting rotation. Seattle also landed a potential key reliever, getting right-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from Atlanta, then sent him to Tampa Bay along with infielder Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Smyly. Smith was also an offseason target for the Mariners but when Seattle acquired Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City last week, Smith instead became the conduit in helping to obtain Smyly.

"It became apparent to us over the last two or three days that we were able to access Drew Smyly by making the deal with Atlanta that tapped into Mallex Smith," Dipoto said. "So effectively these were two deals that were interlinked."

Smyly is the centerpiece of what Seattle was trying to accomplish as the Mariners seem to have rounded out a starting rotation that appeared to be a major question at the start of the year. The acquisitions of Smyly and Yovani Gallardo from Baltimore last week appear to have filled out a rotation where Felix HernandezHisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton were the only certainties.

Smyly, 27, made 30 starts last season for Tampa Bay, throwing a career-high 175 1/3 innings and striking out 167. He was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA, but starting pitching is one of Tampa Bay's strongest assets, and Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander felt comfortable making the deal because of the depth the Rays have in that area.

Smyly was 15-15 with a 3.95 ERA in 49 starts for Tampa Bay after being acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. He is arbitration eligible after winning $3.75 million in an arbitration hearing last season.

"He fits our ballpark particularly well. He's a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with the low walks, high strikeouts, who in our ballpark, with what we think is a greatly improved outfield defense fits us like a glove really," Dipoto said. "If as we expect he shows up and does his thing it should fit very well for us in this ballpark."

What Smith may be able to add was attractive to Neander, who said the trade was made to help position the Rays to be competitive in 2017. He stopped short of saying he expects Smith to make the team coming out of spring training.

"We need to get better," Neander said. "To do that, we need more competition" for jobs.

Simmons is also a key acquisition for Seattle, providing another power arm in the bullpen. Simmons, 26, made seven appearances last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and threw just 6 2/3 big league innings. Before elbow issues, Simmons was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances during the 2014 season.

"He's had a strong history with striking (batters) out and (we're) really excited to plug him in," Dipoto said.

The cost for Seattle to complete to two deals meant giving up two of its top pitching prospects in Yarbrough and Luiz Gohara. Yarbrough, 25, was named the Southern League pitcher of the year after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Jackson last season. Gohara, 20, was 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 starts at two Class A stops.

Seattle also sent lefty Thomas Burrows to Atlanta and designated right-hander Cody Martin for assignment to make room on its 40-man roster.