DALLAS -- A's general manager Billy Beane didn't enter the week as a fan of the Winter Meetings, and he won't exit as one when he departs earlier than his colleagues Tuesday night.
"There is a lot of interest," Beane said of his players, "but I've never really liked this environment. The four walls start to get you a little stir-crazy."
So don't expect the A's, who over the next two days will be represented by assistant general manager David Forst, to strike a deal before Thursday, when the annual event concludes. Don't, however, rule out one going through shortly after. The Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Dan Haren deals of years past all were completed following the Winter Meetings, and one of similar stature -- think Gio Gonzalez or Andrew Bailey -- could manifest in similar fashion.
"We just had a club in here, and I said I almost prefer to speak when we get out of here," said Beane, referring to Red Sox officials.
Boston is one of a handful of teams interested in Bailey, but perhaps one of the only ones also showing intrigue in Gonzalez. However, Beane noted Tuesday in his nightly session with local reporters that "nothing is imminent with anybody."
"There doesn't seem to be a lot going on, aside from chatter," Beane said of the league as a whole.
The biggest trade of the week thus far came Tuesday, and it wasn't exactly a flashy one, either -- the Blue Jays swapped players with the White Sox, dealing pitching prospect Nestor Molina for right-hander Sergio Santos. Toronto plans to make Santos its closer, meaning the Blue Jays can be erased from the list of Bailey suitors.
Several still stand, though, and the A's are expected to continue to listen. The Reds, like the Red Sox, have discussed Bailey. But Oakland, in reality, is not actively shopping anyone, instead choosing to utilize its time not spent hearing out other clubs' offers, but in pursuit of an outfield plan.
After all, the A's don't currently have one. Beane on Tuesday named Ryan Sweeney as the club's starting right fielder, as the roster stands now. But the team desperately needs to fill the other two outfield spots, particularly in center, and Beane doesn't envision doing that by way of internal options.
"I've always thought that the young guys sort of force themselves onto big league rosters by virtue of their performance, first at Triple-A," he said. "I think a couple of guys have probably done that. You certainly have to look at Jai Miller and, probably as much as anybody, Jermaine Mitchell."
But Miller is far from a lock, and Mitchell underwent knee surgery in September, making his status for the start of the season unclear.
"Had he not had the surgery," Beane said, "I would probably say he would be one guy that, given the need at the position, I'd let him go out there and play and lose the position. The other guys, to some extent, it's still something they have to earn and grasp."
Included in that group is Michael Taylor, who has yet to demonstrate offensive consistency at the Triple-A level. And in 30 at-bats with the A's in September, he collected just six hits with 11 strikeouts. It's surely a small sample size, but Beane doesn't even seem content with the much larger one created at the Minor League level.
"We still like his talent," Beane said. "He still has to show us he's capable of performing at a level where we can say, 'Here's 500 at-bats.' There hasn't been a dominant performance yet at the highest level. A good performance, but not dominant."
Among the potential center-field candidates, Coco Crisp isn't a likely one, as expected. Beane has kept in touch with the speedster's agent, Steve Comte, but he admittedly does so with plenty of other agents, including the representative for fellow free-agent Josh Willingham, Matt Sosnick -- a neighbor of Beane's.
The A's GM, however, likely hasn't had as many conversations with Seth Levinson, the agent for Gonzalez. Beane said, despite discussion of a long-term contract with the All-Star lefty last year, talks have since stalled "because of some other things more immediate, more pressing."
Translation: The A's really can't touch payroll until a stadium decision comes through, which is why they're leaving open the possibility of trading Gonzalez in an effort to net a handful of prospects that could christen a new stadium.
Beane shot down all rumors related to the Royals as a trading partner for the pitcher, but the Marlins, Red Sox and Yankees appear to be the most frequently mentioned teams still in the hunt. Boston might be a better fit for Bailey, considering its depleted farm system following the Adrian Gonzalez deal likely won't yield the right return goods for Gonzalez. And the Yankees don't exactly have the high-upside outfielders the A's need and want.
Miami, however, could be a nice landing spot for local product Gonzalez -- especially if the Marlins sign Albert Pujols, at which point their budget would likely force them to turn to the trade market rather than the free-agent crop. With Pujols in tow, Miami would also seemingly be able to move either outfielder Logan Morrison and/or first baseman Gaby Sanchez -- guys who could make a big impact in Oakland.