A's acquire reliever Wuertz from Cubs
Deal for pair of Minor League prospects adds bullpen depth
OAKLAND -- As recently as a couple of weeks ago, the A's seemed poised to enter Spring Training with five bullpen jobs available. Now there are three.
Four days after signing free agent Russ Springer to serve as a setup man for dual closers Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler, Oakland on Monday completed a trade that brought them another veteran right-handed reliever.
Michael Wuertz, who went 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 45 games for the Cubs last season, was acquired in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, outfielder Richie Robnett and infielder Justin Sellers.
A's assistant general manager David Forst said Wuertz has been on the team's radar since 2006, when he posted a 2.66 ERA in 41 appearances for the Cubs.
Wuertz followed that with a 3.48 ERA in 73 games in 2007. He spent part of 2008 at Triple-A Iowa.
"We were surprised he was sent down," Forst said. "But one of our scouts saw him in Triple-A, and he was still throwing up to 94 [mph] with a good slider."
So when the Cubs last week made it known that Wuertz, 30, was available, the A's moved quickly to get him.
Selected by the Cubs in the 11th round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft, Wuertz made his big league debut in 2004 and is 13-7 with a 3.57 ERA over parts of five seasons in the Majors, striking out 270 in 262 1/3 innings in 265 career outings.
Asked if Wuertz would have to earn a job in the A's bullpen this spring, Forst responded by noting that Wuertz is out of Minor League options and would be exposed to the waiver wire if he didn't make the big league club out of camp.
"I would anticipate he'll be on the team," Forst said.
Robnett, 25, was one of Oakland's two first-round Draft picks in 2004 but has been slowed by injuries for much of his career. He batted a combined .240 with four home runs and 27 RBIs in 82 games with Class A Stockton, Triple-A Sacramento and Double-A Midland last year, and he has a .256 batting average with 58 home runs and 252 RBIs in 449 games over five Minor League seasons.
"We still have 10 outfielders on our 40-man roster," Forst said, "so that's still a position of depth for us and we have plenty of options at the Major League level."
Sellers, 23, was a sixth-round pick out of high school in 2005. He hit .255 with six home runs and 46 RBIs in 123 games with Midland in 2008.
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.