Fortifying bullpen frees A's to eye starters

Fortifying bullpen frees A's to eye starters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The A's made the most of their brief stay in Nashville, completing a pair of trades and signing yet another veteran reliever ahead of their Thursday departure from the Winter Meetings.

Brett Lawrie, the biggest name the A's acquired in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto last winter, saw his time in Oakland end Wednesday evening, when he was dealt to the White Sox for two pitching prospects.

Winter Meetings highlights
Below were the biggest moves of the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
12/9: D-backs acquire RHP Shelby Miller from Braves for OF Ender Inciarte, RHP Aaron Blair, SS Dansby Swanson.
Mets acquire 2B Neil Walker from Pirates for LHP Jon Niese.
Astros to acquire RHP Ken Giles from Phillies for RHP Vincent Velasquez, LHP Brett Oberholtzer, others. Not official.
White Sox acquire IF Brett Lawrie from A's for two Minor Leaguers.
Mets to sign SS Asdrubal Cabrera to 2-year deal. Not official.
Mariners acquire 1B Adam Lind from Brewers for three Minor Leaguers.
12/8: D-backs sign 6-year deal with Zack Greinke.
Cubs sign 4-year deal with 2B Ben Zobrist.
Yankees acquire 2B Starlin Castro from Cubs for RHP Adam Warren, PTBNL.
Cubs sign 2-year deal with RHP John Lackey.
Cardinals acquire 2B Jedd Gyorko from Padres for OF Jon Jay.
12/7: Dodgers near 3-year deal with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma. Not official.
Mariners acquire LHP Wade Miley, RHP Jonathan Aro from Red Sox for RHP Carson Smith, LHP Roenis Elias.
Royals sign 2-year deal with RHP Chris Young.
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Lawrie's departure was expected, with the A's having fielded several calls on him in recent weeks following their reacquisition of versatile infielder Jed Lowrie, who is now penciled in to play second base, while Marcus Semien and Danny Valencia hold down the left side of the infield at shortstop and third, respectively.

The A's also traded reliever Evan Scribner to Seattle for a Minor League pitcher and agreed to terms with free-agent reliever John Axford this week, a deal that is expected to become official following his Thursday physical in Oakland. Ryan Madson's physical was also scheduled for Thursday. The two pitchers further fortify an A's bullpen that represented the club's weakest link last season.

"We've gotten a lot done, for sure, with targets of ours coming out of the season," A's general manager David Forst said. "So we feel good about our progress in the last two months."

Deals done
The A's sent Lawrie to the White Sox on the eve of the final day of the Winter Meetings, taking advantage of a surplus of infielders to acquire a pair of pitching prospects: right-hander J.B. Wendelken and left-hander Zack Erwin. Another Minor League arm came to the A's in a deal with the Mariners, as Oakland landed right-hander Trey Cochran-Gill in exchange for Scribner. Then there was the deal that netted them a big league arm, a reported two-year, $10 million contract for Axford that's yet to be announced.

Rule 5 Draft
The A's selected Mariners infielder Jabari Blash in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft but immediately flipped him to the Padres to complete the Drew Pomeranz-Yonder Alonso trade. Oakland also lost second baseman Colin Walsh to the Brewers in this round.

In the Minor League phase of the draft, the A's selected outfielder Alex Glenn from the Diamondbacks, first baseman Viosergy Rosa from the Marlins and outfielder Danny Oh, a Cal Berkeley alum, from the Yankees. They lost outfielder Chad Oberacker to the Diamondbacks.

"It worked out pretty well with a Cal outfielder last year, so we figured we'd do it again," Forst said of Mark Canha. "Danny had a really nice half season in Double-A, so him and Glenn and Rosa add some depth to our system, and we think those guys have a chance to help us."

Goals accomplished
Oakland completed a pair of trades for three Minor League pitchers and continued its progress in bolstering the bullpen with the signing of Axford. The A's also completed plenty other work behind the scenes in additional trade negotiations, and they further explored the starting pitching market for a potential addition to their rotation.

Unfinished business
The A's will do their due diligence in finding a veteran arm to slot behind ace Sonny Gray. However, they also remain realistic about the difficulties involved and are happy with the many in-house options on their roster that could fill the slots not occupied by Gray and Rich Hill -- a group that includes Jesse Hahn, Kendall Graveman, Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks, Sean Nolin and Felix Doubront.

"You never know where the dollars are going, and that's a two-way street," Forst said. "Guys have to want to come here as well, so free agency is always tough."

GM's bottom line
"Getting a trade done obviously makes it a productive trip. We still have some ongoing conversations. We'll take that home with us and see if anything happens between now and the holidays." -- Forst

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.