12/10/2013 11:45 P.M. ET
Melvin likes how A's roster reshaped quickly
Beane swings four trades, one free-agent signing over nine busy days
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Oakland's Bob Melvin exited Day 2 of the Winter Meetings as one of few managers already equipped with a set roster for 2014.
That's what happens when his boss makes four trades and one free-agent signing in a span of nine days.
Winter Meetings Action
|Day 4: Dec. 12|
|SS Clint Barmes||1-year deal with PIT||Yes|
|OF Brian Bogusevic||Traded to MIA||Yes|
|2B Robinson Cano||10-year deal with SEA finalized||Yes|
|RHP Joba Chamberlain||1-year deal with DET||Yes|
|OF Nate McLouth||2-year deal with WAS finalized||Yes|
|OF Michael Morse||1-year deal with SF||No|
|1B Mike Napoli||2-year deal with BOS finalized||Yes|
|OF Justin Ruggiano||Traded to CHC||Yes|
General manager Billy Beane's shopping spree began Dec. 2 with the signing of lefty Scott Kazmir. Then the wheeling and dealing began. Closer Jim Johnson arrived in a trade that night, and outfielder Craig Gentry and hurlers Josh Lindblom and Luke Gregerson were brought in via two deals the next day.
On Tuesday, rumors of Brett Anderson's impending departure via the trade route were put to rest when Beane finally closed a deal involving the lefty, getting hurlers Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen from the Rockies in return.
Moving forward, expect little offseason buzz from the A's.
"We're very pleased with how our club sets up right now," said Melvin, speaking to reporters at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. "We feel like we're improved and improved from a team that's won the West the last two years. Billy has done a great job in a short period of time."
Oakland's pitching depth remains its strength, and its lineup again features mostly platoon players. Much of the A's success in recent years has been dependent on this system, which is designed to extract the utmost value out of players.
Guys like Brandon Moss, John Jaso, Alberto Callaspo and Gentry embody this.
"You don't see many Robinson Canos on our roster right now," Melvin said. "We have few guys that play every day. The other guys know coming in they have to do some things well to get the at-bats. And if that starts out in a platoon role, they seem to buy into the team concept and deal with that."
Gentry, in particular, seemingly fits the A's mold perfectly. As Texas' fourth outfielder the past two seasons, usually playing against left-handed pitching, the 30-year-old hit .292 with a .370 on-base percentage. He was the Rangers' best defensive outfielder and also stole 37 bases in 47 attempts.
His bat makes up for the loss of Chris Young, who struggled in his part-time role with the A's, finishing the season with a .200/.280/.379 slash line.
"There was more uncertainty with it," Melvin said. "There was an unknown with Chris, being a guy that was an everyday player. Still a good player but just had a little trouble acclimating to that role, whether it was the lack of consistent at-bats, not playing the same position. He'd been a center fielder his entire career, so some of those things were uncomfortable for him, yet he worked through it and did the best he could with it. It was never a problem for us.
"A guy like Gentry is one of the premier role-type players, at least in our mind."
But he likely won't appear at designated hitter, where the departed Young and Seth Smith often played. The bulk of those duties could potentially be suited for Jaso, who would benefit from decreased time behind the plate after missing the second half of 2013 with a concussion.
"There is certainly the potential to get John some more at-bats in that DH role," Melvin said. "It depends on what we feel like the lineup's going to be on a particular day. I don't think there's a set DH. And I think we're probably better off being able to rotate it to give some guys days off. Whether it's [Yoenis] Cespedes or Coco [Crisp], guys that get nicked up and play hard. If you can give them days off DHing, I think that works better for us than having a full-time DH."
The A's face few other questions heading into Spring Training, though the second-base picture is far from resolved. Nick Punto and holdovers Callaspo and Eric Sogard are in the mix, and Melvin said Callaspo could even get some work at first base.
Moss figures to see the most playing time there, and the jury's still out on Nate Freiman, who hit .274 in a limited role with the A's last year. Daric Barton gives them even more depth at the position.
"Unfortunately for a guy like Callaspo, he can do everything," Melvin said. "He was an everyday third baseman. He's played second in his career. And who knows, we might have him play a little bit of first base, too. He can hit. And whether he's starting or not, he's also a weapon coming off the bench. So, again, for him, it will be kind of the same as far as the role goes. But even adding potential positions.
"We feel like we're better. And that's the ultimate goal. We won 94 games two years ago. We won 96 games last year, and we feel we're a better team. It doesn't guarantee anything, but it gives us a good feeling going into Spring Training this year."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.