In an unsurprising move, the Oakland A's declined their 2009 option on left-handed reliever Alan Embree. Embree went 2-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 70 appearances last season for Oakland, his second year with the A's. Oakland has filled the veteran's 40-man roster spot with infielder Joe Dillon, who had been cut by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the week.
The decision not to bring back Embree was not a surprise, despite the fact that he was one of the few veterans in the A's bullpen. The emergence of left-handers Jerry Blevins and Josh Outman as two hard-throwing options in the A's bullpen made the need for Embree less acute. Embree was scheduled to make $3 million in 2009.
The 14-year-veteran signed with the A's before the 2007 season. He pitched well for Oakland that year, posting a 3.97 ERA and saving 17 games. He has played for eight teams during his long career and is likely to be pursued by a few teams this off-season despite his struggles in 2008. Embree has always been one of the hardest throwing lefty relievers in the game, although his velocity seemed down a little bit at times this season. He will be 39 at the start of next season.
Outfielder Emil Brown filed for free agency yesterday, opening up another spot on the A's 40-man roster. He isn't expected to return. Frank Thomas and Keith Foulke are also eligible to file for free agency.
Dillon, 33, is a bit of a journeyman himself. Oakland will be his fifth MLB organization. He also spent a year (2006) in Japan as part of the Yomiuri ballclub.
Last season, Dillon split his time between Milwaukee and Triple-A Nashville. He hit .213 with a homer in 75 at-bats spread over 56 games for the Brewers and he had a .337 OBP. With Nashville, he hit .263 with a 783 OPS. In 2007, Dillon hit 20 homers for Nashville. He has seven career minor league seasons with at least 10 homeruns.
Dillon is a versatile player defensively. He can play the corner infield spots, second base and the outfield. In 122 career major league games, Dillon has a .257 average and two homeruns. In 2007, he hit .342 in 76 at-bats for the Brewers.