The Oakland A's off-season maneuvering continued at a torrid pace, as they completed their second trade of the day on Tuesday, sending OF/DH Seth Smith to the San Diego Padres for reliever Luke Gregerson.
Smith was a candidate to be non-tendered, but the A's elected to tender him a contract on Monday, only to turn around and trade him the next day. The outfielder/DH spent two seasons with the A's. He hit .246/.331/.406 with 22 homers in 242 games, most against right-handed pitching. Smith also hit two homers and drove-in five in nine post-season games with the A's. He was acquired before the 2012 season from the Colorado Rockies for Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman.
Gregerson, who is also arbitration eligible, was one of the most consistent middle relievers in the National League for the past several seasons. Gregerson debuted in 2009 and he has made at least 61 appearances for the Padres in each of the past five seasons. He has a career ERA of 2.88 in 347 innings. He has a career 9.1 K/9 and a 0.6 HR/9. Last season, Gregerson had a 2.71 ERA and four saves in 66.1 innings. He allowed only 49 hits and he had a 64:18 K:BB.
A 28th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, Gregerson was traded to the Padres for Khalil Greene in 2008. He has mostly been used as a set-up man by San Diego, although he has some experience closing out games. Gregerson has held right-handed batters to a 536 OPS during his career. Left-handers have posted a 676 OPS against him. He has benefited from pitching in Petco Park (2.06 career ERA), but his road ERA is still solid (3.85) and he will be moving to another pitcher-friendly park in the O.Co Coliseum.
Gregerson's best pitch is his slider, which he throws more frequently than any other pitcher in baseball with the exception of Sergio Romo, according to FanGraphs.com. Like Romo, Gregerson isn't a hard thrower. His fastball averaged 90 MPH in 2013 and topped off at 91. Gregerson is a groundball pitcher.
With the addition of Gregerson today and Jim Johnson yesterday, the A's have enhanced a part of their pitching staff that was a strong point in 2013. At this moment, the A's bullpen figures to feature Johnson in the ninth, with Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Gregerson and Jerry Blevins serving as set-up men and Fernando Abad, Dan Otero, Jesse Chavez, Pedro Figueroa, Arnold Leon and Evan Scribner competing for the final two spots in the bullpen. Abad, Figueroa, Chavez and Scribner are all out of options. Fernando Rodriguez, who had Tommy John surgery last spring, could be available by mid-season. He is also out of options.
By moving Smith off of the roster, the A's have opened up several opportunities at DH, LF and 1B. The A's could choose to move Brandon Moss off of first base and have him DH or play left field (moving Yoenis Cespedes to DH). That would allow the A's to play Daric Barton on a regular basis at first, or platoon him with Nate Freiman. The A's could keep Moss as the primary first baseman and use Alberto Callaspo as a DH. Callaspo, acquired last year from the Angels, gave the A's a boost on offense, but he was a liability defensively at second and third base. Another possibility would be to have John Jaso DH, while Derek Norris and Stephen Vogt share the catching duties. Jaso missed most of the second half of last season with a concussion and Norris and Vogt did a solid job filling in for Jaso behind the plate.
Of course, the A's could also decide to acquire a new first baseman or primary DH to replace Smith. Starter Brett Anderson is reportedly on the market now that the A's have agreed to terms with Scott Kazmir and acquired Josh Lindblom. The A's could look for a first baseman or corner outfielder/DH in exchange for Anderson, or they could look to replenish a farm system that has been depleted through their recent trades.