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A's leave Meetings with roster intact

A's leave Meetings with roster intact

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The A's contingent checked out of the Gaylord Opryland Hotel immediately after Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft, leaving veteran Oakland outfielder Mark Kotsay looking prescient for the time being.

While much of the baseball world expected A's general manager Billy Beane to deal one or more of his starting pitchers at the annual Winter Meetings, signaling that a full-blown rebuilding process was under way, Kotsay figured all along that Beane would leave Music City with his current roster intact.

"I've been following all the rumors and everything because it's my team, but I never really bought into any of it," Kotsay said by phone. "I know Billy's going to do what he thinks is best for the team, but I don't see him blowing [the roster] up."

That the roster wasn't shaken up during Oakland's three-night stay, however, doesn't mean it won't be before Spring Training. In 2004, Beane left the Winter Meetings in Anaheim without having made a move, but several days later he traded Tim Hudson to the Braves, and two days after dealing Hudson he sent Mark Mulder to the Cardinals.

"Billy's made it no secret that this isn't the most conducive environment [for making deals]," assistant GM David Forst said on Thursday morning. "We're looking forward to getting back to the office and following up on some of the conversations we had here."

The majority of the conversations the A's had here involved teams looking into acquiring Dan Haren or fellow righty Joe Blanton. Beane said on Thursday that he'll probably be talking to some of those teams again in the near future, but a deal remains unlikely.

"There hasn't been anything that has me dying to call someone back," Beane said. "But part of this whole process is gathering information on a number of fronts, and certainly that information can be useful going forward.

"We're not pushing our guys. It's more a slowing-down process. 'OK, we know you have interest. Let us get back to you.' We have a pretty good idea which teams have the players to have a chance to overwhelm us."

One of those teams could be the Diamondbacks, who met with the A's on Monday night and Tuesday morning and reportedly offered a package for Haren that included up to five prospects. The Dodgers expressed interest in Blanton, whom they pursued before the July trading deadline, but a Los Angeles source said Beane was "asking for way more than we'd give up."

The Cubs reportedly poked around as to the availability of outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, but they were told that Swisher isn't going anywhere.

"We'll listen to whatever anyone has to say about any of our guys," Beane said. "We've always done that. That doesn't mean we're going to move anyone, but you'd be foolish not to listen."

Among the other conversations Beane had in Nashville were talks with Alan Hendricks, the agent for closer Huston Street, about a multi-year contract. And Beane spoke briefly on Thursday morning with Greg Genske, who represents free-agent outfielder Shannon Stewart. The A's offered Stewart arbitration last week, and Stewart must accept or decline the offer by Friday evening.

"I'm sure we'll be talking to them again in the next 24 hours," Forst said.

Designated hitter Mike Piazza also was offered arbitration, and Forst said Piazza, who is exploring the possibility of playing in Japan next season, is expected to decline.

Beane, who on Wednesday said he's leaning toward keeping his team intact, said he was far from disappointed by the lack of A's-related action at the Winter Meetings.

"Not at all," he said. "And I'm thrilled to be leaving all these rumors behind."

Deals done: None.

Rule 5 activity: The A's selected righty reliever Fernando Hernandez, formerly of the White Sox organization, with the ninth pick in the Major League phase. They didn't lose any players in the Major League phase.

Goals accomplished: Beane came to listen, and he did plenty of that.

Unfinished business: None.

GM's bottom line: "It's early December. Spring Training starts in February. That's a lot of time. There's no sense of urgency on our part at all." -- Beane

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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