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Wednesday, December 4, 2013
AL West: A's wheeling and dealing

By Richard Durrett

This busy offseason has included the AL West, with the Rangers and A's the most active so far. The teams hooked up on a deal on Tuesday, but it was just one of four separate deals the A's made in 48 hours.

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.