A's acquire DeJesus from Royals for Mazzaro
Minor League left-hander Marks also headed to Kansas City
OAKLAND -- Depth, never at the expense of downgrading in the talent department, has become just as significant in Oakland's game plan in recent years as speed, defense and pitching -- all of the above offsetting countless injuries and a soft offense.
On Wednesday, the club furthered its efforts to add to that makeup by acquiring veteran outfielder David DeJesus from Kansas City for a pair of young hurlers in right-hander Vin Mazzaro and left-handed Minor League prospect Justin Marks.
The move added to an already busy week for the organization, as it came just two days after it was announced Oakland won bidding rights to negotiate with Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, with whom the A's must feel pretty confident regarding a contract if willing to let go of Mazzaro.
By packaging the pitching duo, Oakland received a speedy outfielder who hit .318 with five home runs and 37 RBIs in 91 games for the Royals before missing the final two months of the season after undergoing right thumb surgery. DeJesus, 30, should not be facing any restrictions come spring.
"Going to Oakland, they've got great pitching, and if we can get some bats over there, I think it'll be an exciting year," DeJesus said. "They play the game right, and it seemed like if they can get some bats, they could be right in it."
DeJesus spent time in all three outfield slots -- the most coming in right field -- and did not commit an error in 88 games this year. The left-handed hitter has a 241-game errorless streak dating to Sept. 15, 2008 -- numbers that speak volumes to an A's team that heavily focuses on defense.
"He's a guy we always liked," said A's general manager Billy Beane, who noted the club has eyed DeJesus since August. "He's a great defender and a good baserunner as well, and right now, the plan is to play him every day at the corners."
DeJesus figures to join an outfield that already boasts fellow speedster and former Royals teammate Coco Crisp. Also in the outfield mix for Oakland are arbitration-eligible players Ryan Sweeney, Rajai Davis and Conor Jackson, along with Chris Carter.
Wednesday's move signals thinking that one of them, likely Davis or Jackson, could be elsewhere by the start of the 2011 season. However, when speaking of his crowded outfield, Beane said he has no current intentions of parting ways with any of them, as he likes what each lends the team.
"If you look at all the outfielders we have," Beane said, "they're all interchangeable. I think DeJesus has been a well-respected guy, and he seems to do everything well. He'll be a good complement to everybody. He can play either corners, and I think he's just another good player to add to the guys out there."
Beane said Sweeney and DeJesus are both equipped with enough defensive ability to succeed in a permanent home in left field, so one could easily see a shift next season. Either way, Crisp likes what's around him.
"DeJesus is a really good player," Crisp said. "He can make any team better, defensively and offensively, when he's healthy. He goes 100 percent all the time and plays the game the right way. I like the way our outfield is looking."
DeJesus will make $6 million in 2011, and while Beane said an extended contract has been discussed, it's important to first "get him over here, familiar with us and us with him."
In bolstering their versatility, the A's sacrificed one of their promising young starters in Mazzaro, who showed flashes of brilliance in the midst of an up-and-down season this year. He enjoyed a 5-2 mark and 2.86 ERA over his first nine starts but went 0-6 with a 5.60 ERA over his next eight, landing him at Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 6. Mazzaro returned to the club later in the month but only in a relief role.
Overall, the 24-year-old righty was 6-8 with a 4.27 ERA in 24 games -- 18 starts -- during three stints with Oakland this year and was expected to be the front-runner for the fifth rotation spot in Spring Training.
However, Mazzaro's name was usually the first mentioned whenever trade talks surrounding Oakland emerged. Furthermore, there was speculation that Mazzaro had, in a sense, fallen out of favor with the A's front office, though Beane disputed the notion and called it "completely false."
Rather, he reiterated the club's large stock of pitching as the reason why he was allowed to let some of it go. After all, the A's are already proud owners of starters Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Dallas Braden and the rehabbing Josh Outman, not to mention September surprise story Bobby Cramer and a strong possibility in Iwakuma.
"We're not going to comment a whole lot on the negotiations [with Iwakuma] until hopefully it's completed," Beane said. "If, ultimately, the negotiations with him are successful, we should be in pretty good shape. Pitching was an obvious strength for us. Using pitching depth to acquire a position player was something we set out to do at the beginning of offseason."
It's highly expected that the club is also set to bring in power, something Beane confirmed is still a focus -- likely in the form of free agency now, as he said he is not looking to trade away Cahill, Anderson, Gonzalez or Braden.
"I don't think we can look at anything in a linear fashion," he said. "We certainly have a need for power, but I think we also have to be cognizant of our defense, which was a major part of our success last year. There's a lot of offseason left, and there's certainly a mindset of making power a part of that."
Marks, the other name in Wednesday's deal, spent the 2010 season with Class A Kane County and Class A Stockton and combined for a 6-13 record and 4.87 ERA in 25 games, 24 of them starts. The 22-year-old southpaw was originally drafted by the A's in the third round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.