Choice called his family to inform them that he was coming home as part of a trade that caught him off guard.
"I was running errands when they called," Choice said.
He said he couldn't calm his dad down when he gave him the news and that his phone was full of text message from friends and family. He said he's yet to get any ticket requests.
"But I'm sure that's coming," Choice said.
The 24-year-old knows that nothing is guaranteed. He'll have to earn a job in spring training, something he was geared to do if he was heading to spring training with the A's anyway.
Choice isn't worried about the pressures of playing so close to home (he played high school baseball in Mansfield and college ball at the University of Texas-Arlington), saying that the fact that it's familiar should make it comfortable and maybe even "less nerve-racking" because it's familiar.
DETROIT -- Joe Nathan expects to fit in just fine in Detroit -- and now the Tigers don't have to face the closer who has dominated them more than perhaps any other in baseball.
Nathan agreed with Detroit on a two-year contract with a club option for 2016, enabling the Tigers to accomplish one of their main objectives this offseason by adding one of the game's most accomplished closers to the bullpen. The three-time defending AL Central champions announced the deal Wednesday, two days after trading right-handed starter Doug Fister to Washington. Terms were not disclosed.
"Why would I come here?" Nathan asked rhetorically. "I think the question is, why wouldn't I? This team is ready to win. They're ready to win now. ... It's not just about getting to the postseason. For me, it's about getting to the big one."
Nathan, who turned 39 last month, has never pitched in the World Series. He had 43 saves in 46 chances for the Texas Rangers last season.
It's been a busy offseason already for Detroit, which traded slugger Prince Fielder to Texas for Ian Kinsler in a move that, coupled with the trade of Fister, gave the Tigers more financial flexibility.
Detroit's bullpen was unsettled for much of last season. Joaquin Benoit eventually performed well as the closer, but he is now a free agent.
"A very big part of what we were trying to accomplish was to get a closer," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "This was always a goal of ours."
It's an art, and Daniels is approaching Picasso's creativity level. For those of us in the business of disseminating information, it can be a little frustrating. But it's absolutely the smartest move.
Why would Daniels want to tip his pitches, giving others a chance to gain an advantage? That's not to say Daniels won't toss out a few pieces of information. He does talk in generalities about what the club needs. But he does it all with a purpose. And he's careful not to get backed into a corner or give away too many secrets.
Take Robinson Cano, for instance. He was asked directly about the club's interest in the biggest name on the free-agent market. Daniels admitted that he's talked to agents of "most" of the known names on the market. He then added: "Upgrading our infield is pretty low on our priority list."
It was Daniels' way of saying that Cano's price -- at least what he's looking for -- is too high for the Rangers. But why come out and say flatly that the club has no interest in Cano? What good does that do? Just like it makes no sense to praise Cano, either. Who knows what could happen? What if Cano doesn't get anywhere close to what he's looking for and the Rangers decide to jump in late and see what may or may not happen? It's doubtful that would happen, but not impossible. Again, Daniels is careful not to completely rule anything out.
The chances of Cano coming to Texas have always seemed a bit remote. Paying Prince Fielder and freeing up a spot for Jurickson Profar with the trade of Ian Kinsler (one that didn't get leaked until after it was completed prior to Thanksgiving) makes it even more unlikely. But that doesn't mean the club is out of the big-ticket items either.
Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski has made the biggest splash of the offseason so far after dealing first baseman Prince Fielder and right-hander Doug Fister, and signing free-agent closer Joe Nathan.
But St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak isn’t far behind after trading for center fielder Peter Bourjos and signing free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Likewise, Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan has been active, bolstering his starting rotation by signing free-agent pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to long-term deals.
However, 12 out of the top 15 free agents this offseason are still without homes, and there are several prominent players being mentioned in trade rumors, including David Price and Jeff Samardzija.
So let’s take a look at some of the GMs who could join Dombrowski, Mozeliak and Ryan in making a huge splash of their own at the winter meetings.
Brian Cashman | Needs: starting pitching, second base, closer
I know what you are thinking: Cashman already made a splash by signing Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract and Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year pact. But as I see it, that was just the appetizer.
Cashman remains focused on second baseman Robinson Cano, and once CAA and RocNation move a little closer to Cashman’s numbers, an eight-year, $200 million deal could get done before Cashman leaves the winter meetings.
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The A's signed right-handed starter Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal on Monday (it should be finalized today, according to reports) and then later that day GM Billy Beane traded for closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles. On Tuesday, he dealt one of the club's top prospects in Michael Choice to obtain Craig Gentry. And he shipped outfielder Seth Smith to the Padres to get right-handed reliever Luke Gregersen.
It was a crazy two-day period that has the A's attempting to plug some holes and improve the team. In giving up Choice for Gentry, the A's decided to give up some of the long-term possibilities with Choice to get Gentry. He fits the profile for what the A's needed -- a defensive outfielder with speed that can play all three positions. Gentry will probably stay as the "fourth" outfielder and the A's know what they're getting in the scrappy Gentry. But that came with a cost, having to give up a player in Choice that has power potential and a higher ceiling at 24 years old. Still, for 2014, the move improves the A's defense.
"Playing against them, they handle themselves well, they play hard," Gentry told Oakland reporters. "That team is the exact type of player I am. I feel like I'm going to fit in well over there, and I'm excited about it."
A bullpen that was already good has only gotten better with Johnson and Gregersen. The latter gives the A's a right-handed setup man with a track record and Johnson is an All-Star closer. If the A's can get the lead late, they'll be tough to deal with as an opponent.
You couple Oakland's moves with the Rangers obtaining Prince Fielder, signing Geovany Soto and grabbing Choice, who is a candidate to play left field (with Engel Beltre) should the club not make any more moves, and you've got the two top teams in the AL West staying aggressive in this offseason. And the winter meetings haven't even started yet.
Let's start with the Astros acquiring Dexter Fowler from the Rockies. The Rockies have seemingly been shopping Fowler for years, but apparently the market for him was more lukewarm than a three-day-old cup of Starbucks. Jordan Lyles is still young and throws strikes but has been hit hard at the major league level (5.35 career ERA with 65 starts) and doesn't possess a quality strikeout pitch; he's the kind of pitcher who will get absolutely destroyed at Coors Field.
Even if the Rockies will put a better defense behind Lyles than the Astros did -- Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado will help in that department -- Lyles appears to be a long shot to succeed. Brandon Barnes was a 27-year-old rookie center fielder who posted a .289 on-base percentage, struck out 127 times while walking just 21 times, and was 11-for-22 in stealing bases, a package that made him one of the worst percentage players in the majors. His defense is OK but he looks like a fourth outfielder at best.
What did the Astros get? A player with two years remaining until free agency who has averaged a consistent 2.4 WAR over the past three seasons. He's a good player whom the Rockies always expected more from, perhaps creating a poor read of his actual value. There is the possibility that his numbers will crater outside of Coors Field -- he's hit .298 there in his career, .241 on the road -- but as a guy who takes his walks I like his chances to produce once he gets away from the Coors effect. Kudos to the Astros for acquiring some talent without giving up much in return. With prospect George Springer presumably ready to take over center, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fowler move to left field; his bat won't play as well there but he'll improve the Astros' defense dramatically over the statue-like Chris Carter.
What were the Rockies thinking? Who knows. The Rockies and Mariners seem like the two franchises without any semblance of a game plan right now. Are the Rockies trying to win now? Are they trying to rebuild? Were they merely dumping a salary (Fowler will make $7.35 million in 2014, a relative bargain for a 2-WAR player)? Are they trying to improve the rotation or the offense? If I had to guess, the Rockies see this as a salary dump to clear space to sign a free-agent pitcher. Last year, Roy Oswalt, Jeff Manship, Drew Pomeranz, Collin McHugh and Chad Bettis combined to go 0-19 in 26 starts with a 7.42 ERA. Can't wait to see the Rockies sign Ervin Santana and be shocked when he gives up 40 home runs.
But there was more that happened on Tuesday ... much more!
- The A's traded for Orioles closer Jim Johnson. The Rays traded for Diamondbacks closer-by-default Heath Bell. What's going on here? Are the A's and Rays, the beloved darlings of the sabermetric guild, admitting they believe in Proven Closers? Well ... yes and no. The A's aren't going to pay big bucks for a closer with a long-term deal, so with Grant Balfour leaving as a free agent they picked up Johnson, who has one year remaining before free agency. It's a rental without giving up anything of value (no, Jemile Weeks doesn't count as "value"). The A's may have gone with Ryan Cook as their closer, but he struggled down the stretch with his command last year so Billy Beane undoubtedly wanted more of a sure thing. Now they just need Johnson not to blow nine saves like he did for the Orioles. As for Bell, I don't quite see what the Rays see in him (he gave up 12 home runs in 2013), but they turned Fernando Rodney into a top closer, so Bell will probably go out and record 45 saves with a 2.50 ERA. Bell is due to make $9 million, but the Marlins are paying $4 million of that, so the Rays get a potential closer for the tidy sum of $5 million.
- The A's added further depth to their bullpen by acquiring Luke Gregerson from the Padres for Seth Smith. The A's get another one-year rental, but Gregerson has been one of the majors' most consistent relievers the past few seasons. He held batters to a .203 average in 2013, .226 over the past three years. Yes, Gregerson pitched in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, but he moves to another pitchers' park and his sinker means he's pretty good at preventing home runs anyway. The A's gave up outfielder/DH Smith, who didn't really hit like a corner outfielder/designated hitter needs to hit. Score this as a win for the A's.
- Have I mentioned that I love Billy Beane? To replace Smith and the departed Chris Young, he picked up Craig Gentry from the division rival Rangers for Michael Choice. Gentry is the perfect fourth outfielder, a plus defender in center who can hit left-handed pitching. He doesn't have power but has a .391 OBP the past three years against lefties. He's a terrific platoon-slash-role player. The Rangers get Michael Choice, a former top prospect who hit .302 with 14 home runs at Triple-A. The Rangers get some potential upside here in the former 10th overall pick, but outside of a big year in the California League, his power potential hasn't completely materialized. A worthwhile gamble by the Rangers, however.
- The Tigers are apparently close to signing Joe Nathan -- the move everyone has been predicting all offseason. Clearly the Doug Fister trade was made to clear some salary space. Is there another move in the works? Do the Tigers still bring back Joaquin Benoit to set up Nathan? Is there another big signing -- Shin-Soo Choo? -- coming? Stay tuned!
- The Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynski. Makes sense. One-year deal, leaving the possibility of Blake Swihart or Christian Vazquez to take over at catcher in 2015. Love what the Red Sox are doing here. They could have an extremely young core of Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Swihart in a couple years ... leaving plenty of payroll to spend on David Price when he becomes a free agent after 2015. It's good to be a Red Sox fan right now.
- What else? The Rays acquired Ryan Hanigan. Interesting because they just signed Jose Molina. That gives them two of the best defensive catchers in the game. Brian Wilson looks like he's returning to the Dodgers. Makes sense for the Dodgers; surprising only because everyone thought Wilson wanted to close. Oh, yeah ... the Mariners have emerged as major players in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes, according to an ESPN New York report. The Mariners have money; they want to spend money; Cano wants money. Who knows, maybe it actually will happen. And then don't be shocked when the Mariners also sign Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ubaldo Jimenez. Of course, that could just be my head spinning after this crazy day.
Craig Gentry does two things very well: He's an elite defender in center and he has a career .376 OBP against lefties; one of those skills is very useful, the other one is a little like being the world's best horse-and-buggy driver.
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Choice has big raw power, impressive bat speed and a good approach. He will strike out, but also draws walks and sees pitches. He has a fringe arm, but a good athlete for his size. He's a better fit for left field.
Bostick profiles as a second baseman. He has an average glove and average speed, but really good bat to ball skills. He has a good overall feel for hitting. He's not an impact guy, but a good hitter with a chance.
Essentially, the Rangers are trading the speed and defense of Gentry, who just turned 30 (admit it, you didn't think he was that old), for the power and upside that a raw Michael Choice possesses. The Oakland A's add a player who, frankly, could annoy the Rangers the next few years like so many A's do. Gentry has hit for a decent average, albeit in a platoon role, and once he gets on base, he makes things happen. He's scrappy and aggressive and a good clubhouse guy. It makes the A's better.
The play of Leonys Martin also makes Gentry expendable. He was not an everyday player in Texas, and the Rangers believe Martin has shown that he can be. Without feeling that way about Martin, perhaps the club is more hesitant to part with Gentry. Engel Beltre also factors into this deal. He is out of options and can now be on the roster as that guy who can go in for defensive purposes or give you some speed on the bases. And Beltre is 24.
This deal does not mean the Rangers will simply head off to Disney World next week and ride some rides rather than talk to teams and agents at the winter meetings. This doesn't have to take them out of the market for a proven outfield bat. But it also buys them some time. They have a hitter they can insert in left field and see how it goes, if they want to. They can also survey the market and not feel rushed about making a deal. If they want to go after a big name, they can. But as general manager Jon Daniels said, they don't have to.
Does Choice answer all of the Rangers' questions in the outfield? No. But they are closer to an answer now than they were 24 hours ago. Texas likes to give young players who it feels are ready for big league duty a chance to do that. Choice will have to earn his spot, but he'll be given every opportunity to do so. This isn't someone the club acquired to be a fourth outfielder in the years to come. If the Rangers get a Shin-Soo Choo, for instance, then Choice might spend this season platooning if he makes the club out of spring training. But he might get a chance to play every day in 2014. In other words: The trade gives Texas some options.
I see where both teams are coming from on this one. The A's get speed, defense and a player motivated to show he deserves more playing time. The Rangers get someone with power potential at the upper levels, something they have in the lower levels of the minors, but not close enough to push for a big league spot.
I'm not forgetting about Josh Lindblom or Chris Bostick. But this deal is more about what the two outfielders do for each club. It should be interesting to watch.
It's another indicator that Daniels doesn't mind dealing within the division. He was asked about that on a conference call Tuesday and said he's a little more hesitant as opposed to a trade that isn't in the AL West, but he won't let that stop him.
"I think you always try to understand what the other team is trying to accomplish, but biggest thing is getting what you feel fits with your club," Daniels said.
The Rangers feel that they did that. I'm sure the A's do, too. We'll see what happens and how it all plays out.
NEW YORK -- The Seattle Mariners have emerged as major players in the sweepstakes for free agent Robinson Cano, according to several sources who spoke to ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.
With the New York Yankees not wanting to offer Cano more than a seven-year contract or as much as $200 million, an industry source with knowledge of the negotiations put the Yankees' chances of retaining the five-time All-Star second baseman at "less than 50-50."
"It doesn't look too good right now," said the source.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik refused to confirm a meeting with Cano.
"We've talked to everybody," Zduriencik told ESPNNewYork's Andrew Marchand on Tuesday. "There's not a free agent we haven't talked to. We've cast a wide net.''
Sources familiar with the negotiations between the Yankees and Cano told ESPNNewYork.com that the Yankees believe Seattle might be willing to offer Cano $200 million over eight years.
One of the sources said the Mariners were "desperate for hitting and desperate to put people in the ballpark."
"I wouldn't presume to say that there's no one out there that will meet [Cano's] demands,'' said another source, who named Seattle along with possibly the Texas Rangers as teams that might be willing to outbid the Yankees for Cano's services.
"Now it's a question of, does [Cano] want to be a Yankee, or is he just about the money?" a baseball insider said.
The Texas Rangers wanted more power in the outfield and the Oakland Athletics wanted more defense, so the clubs swapped outfielders with Craig Gentry going to the A's in exchange for Michael Choice as part of a four-player trade.
The deal also included pitcher Josh Lindblom heading to Oakland and infielder Chris Bostick going to Texas.
Choice will be on the Rangers' major league roster; Bostick has been assigned to Class A Myrtle Beach.
The 24-year-old Choice is a native of Fort Worth and played at nearby Mansfield Timberview High School and the University of Texas-Arlington. The A's selected him with the 10th overall pick in the 2010 draft. He made his major league debut this past September and was 5-for-18 (.278) in nine games, making two starts in right field and one in left. He was a Pacific Coast League All-Star with Sacramento, batting .302 with 14 homers and 89 RBIs in 132 games. It was his first season in Triple-A.
"Michael is a guy we followed in his amateur days literally down the block," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "He has a chance to hit and hit for power, is athletic and can play all three outfield spots."
Daniels said the Rangers have put an emphasis on run production and feel Choice can help them with that now and in the future. Daniels was not ready to name Choice a starter but said he'd have the opportunity to compete for a spot in spring training.
The GM did not rule out signing another bat before the offseason is out, though he added that the club could take its time and doesn't feel it has to do anything else.
David Pepe, Nathan's agent, declined to comment on the original report by Foxsports.com.
The pending deal comes after Brian Wilson, who had also been in negotiations with the club, broke off talks with Detroit to explore other opportunities, a baseball source told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
Nathan, 39, is tied with Rollie Fingers for 10th place on baseball's career list with 341 saves. He went 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves and made his sixth All-Star team with the Texas Rangers in 2013.
Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski made upgrading the bullpen an offseason priority after the Tigers' relief corps struggled in the American League Championship loss to Boston. Nathan takes over at closer for Joaquin Benoit, who filed for free agency after notching 24 saves in 2013.
The Tigers traded starter Doug Fister to Washington on Monday, and will move Drew Smyly from the bullpen to the rotation in 2014. Left-hander Ian Krol, who went 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 appearances with the Nationals, will try to pick up some of the slack created by Smyly's transition to starting.
Nathan made the All-Star team both seasons with Texas after signing a two-year deal following the 2011 season, his first after Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the 2010 season.
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Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
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Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.