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Oakland A's deals in the new year are the norm

Billy Beane hints that January could be a "very productive month" for the Oakland Athletics. History shows he's right.

The A's brought Rickey Henderson back on January 22, 1998. He won the stolen bases title at the age of 39.
The A's brought Rickey Henderson back on January 22, 1998. He won the stolen bases title at the age of 39.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The feeling I have about where the Oakland Athletics stand with the roster now needs a German word. I know the A's will make another move this offseason because they always make a move, but it's not immediately clear to move what they'll move given their stated emphasis on retaining soon-to-be-graduating prospects this offseason.

But they'll do something? Right? It'll be surprising, of course.

It won't be Sonny Gray. Probably. No, really.

Well, anyway, the A's under Billy Beane as paramount leader have never been a team to go to sleep when the calendar turns to January. Just look at the last few years:


As the calendar turned to 2015, one known area of weakness was at second base and one area of depth was at catcher, making for an obvious match that also sold some top A's prospects:

Date In Out
From TB:
INF Yunel Escobar
IF/OF Ben Zobrist
To TB:
C John Jaso
SS Daniel Robertson
OF Boog Powell

Publicly, the A's said they acquired Escobar in order to use him in the field, but they moved him a week later to Washington:

Date In Out
From WSH:
RP Tyler Clippard
INF Yunel Escobar

The A's roster was pretty much set for spring training, save one attempt at a comeback:

Date In Out
Free agent:
SP Barry Zito


The A's had an established (though approaching the typical aging cure) core of hitters and their main acquisitions before the new year were centered around acquiring pitchers and supplementary outfield help. Derek Norris, John Jaso, Brandon Moss, Eric Sogard, Jed Lowrie, and Josh Donaldson were all returning infielders while Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp, and Josh Reddick manned the outfield.

All the A's wanted was some more pitching down the road, and another outfielder in case Coco Crisp got hurt:

Date In
Free agent:
RP Eric O'Flaherty
Free agent:
OF Sam Fuld

The A's ended up waiving Fuld to call up Craig Gentry from the disabled list and also to hold onto Daric Barton for some reason while keeping Stephen Vogt in Triple-A. Fuld ended up getting re-acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Tommy Milone.

Oh my goodness that last paragraph was the worst paragraph ever. Let's go back to 2013.


Coming off a stunning run to the 2012 AL West title, the only major moves the A's made before New Year's Day were to re-sign Bartolo Colon, trade for outfielder Chris Young, and trade away Tyson Ross.

The blockbuster moves of the 2012-13 offseason came in January and February:

Date In Out
From SEA:
C John Jaso
SP A.J. Cole
SP Blake Treinan
RP Ian Krol
From HOU:
INF Jed Lowrie
RP Fernando Rodriguez
1B Chris Carter
SP Brad Peacock
C Max Stassi
Claimed from HOU:
1B Nate Freiman
Claimed from NYY:
RP Dan Otero

With the incumbent catching situation a platoon of Derek Norris and George Kottaras, the three-team John Jaso trade seems to have been a stroke of genius for the A's, especially considering that all the Mariners got was Mike Morse. Stephen Vogt wouldn't arrive for cash considerations from Tampa until after opening day, and he didn't make his A's debut until June 25.

The A's had traded away Cliff Pennington to acquire Chris Young, so they obtained Jed Lowrie the first time around with Chris Carter and two prospects. To try to replace Carter's production, they claimed Nate Freiman, a Rule 5 draft choice the Astros had taken from the Padres.


The A's had been in the wilderness for five seasons, but Bob Geren was finally gone and the players had a manager they actually seemed to respect in Bob Melvin. Still, a 74-88 campaign was a long way from the postseason, even with the introduction of a new second Wild Card.

With Coco Crisp and Josh Willingham hitting free agency, the outfield, infield, and catching situation was rather dire:

Whoo those are some names. The Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Sweeney trades are the ones you remember from that offseason's December, but the A's made several huge moves to bolster the outfield in the New Year:

Date In Out
Free agent/Extension:
OF Coco Crisp
From COL:
OF Seth Smith
SP Guillermo Moscoso
RP Josh Outman
Free agent:
SP Bartolo Colon
Free agent:
OF Jonny Gomes
Free agent:
OF Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes was obviously a huge get, but the A's basically built an outfield out of whole cloth in the new year, and they had only obtained Josh Reddick a few days after Christmas, too.


There are significant moves in January and February every year since Billy Beane became general manager in 1998. There was the 1998 he signed Rickey Henderson for his age-39 season on January 22, in which he won the stolen bases title with 66, something that's only been done seven times since then and by no player older than 32.

Moneyball hero Scott Hatteberg's signing was announced officially on January 2, 2002, and the A's gave Frank Thomas his chance to propel himself to Hall of Fame glory with a deal signed on January 31, 2006.

In terms of trades, Beane made one of his most significant in January, trading away Nick Swisher to acquire Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney, and Fautino De Los Santos.

So there's still a move or two left, there has to be.