Just 48 hours ago many A’s fans were lamenting the fact that their big addition thus far was utility man Nick Punto. That wasn’t a statement on the ability of Punto to fill his role, but a utility guy doesn’t turn this A’s team into a championship A’s team. Boy have things changed. In the third trade in the last 24 hours, the Athletics have acquired setup man Luke Gregerson from the San Diego Padres in exchange for OF/DH Seth Smith, the team announced and was first reported by Chris Kusiolek.
As much as the Choice/Gentry deal was a bit of a head scratcher, this deal appears to be yet another Billy Beane special. Smith isn’t a starting outfielder, and he netted the A’s a proven setup man. Gregerson had a fairly strong 2013 season for the Padres, posting a 2.71 ERA in 66.1 innings of work out of the pen. He struck out 8.7/9 innings, and walked 2.4/9 innings while posting a 1.01 WHIP.
Gregerson’s acquisition will accomplish one of two things for the A’s, either it will give them a tremendous bullpen with Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Dan Otero, Jerry Blevins et al., along with new pen mate Jim Johnson; or it will open up trade possibilities for someone like Ryan Cook to bring in some more offense. Regardless of how the A’s play this, the trade is a marked improvement for the team as a whole.
If the last couple days weren’t an indication that the A’s are in “win now” mode, then nothing will prove that. The worry had been that the team was content to give it another try in 2014 with the same cast of characters, and chances are that wouldn’t have been enough to get the job done in October. This changes everything, and the A’s are determined to be a force in the AL West once again, and turn that division title repeat into a “three-peat” while adding that big trophy at the end for good measure. It’s still December, but the excitement for the 2014 baseball season is already starting to build.