Perhaps it’s an addiction for Billy Beane. The man loves to make deals, and especially with the Washington Nationals (7 times in 3 years). For the second time this offseason the A’s and Nationals have exchanged left handed relievers as Jerry Blevins was sent packing to our nation’s capital in exchange for a fleet footed minor league outfielder named Billy Burns.
The recent acquisition of Fernando Abad from the Nationals appeared to seal Blevins fate, as Abad was projected to take over Blevins’ role in the pen. The Nationals had been seeking left handed help for their bullpen, reportedly targeting Sean Doolittle, but settled for Blevins when the A’s wouldn’t part with him. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on the surface because Blevins and Abad have essentially been traded for one another, but I would assume the Nationals sought lefties all over the league before coming back to the A’s and Blevins.
Blevins had established himself in the A’s bullpen after being shuttled back and forth between Oakland and Sacramento for years, but took a step backward last season by posting a 3.15 ERA in 60 innings of work after years at 2.48 and 2.86 in two years prior. He had been relegated to middle relief and mop up duty after a few rough outings, and was again expendable after the bullpen overhaul. He will be most fondly remembered for the Houdini act he pulled off in Anaheim in September 2012, bailing out Grant Balfour who had loaded the bases with nobody out. Blevins got a strikeout and a huge around the horn double play to end the game and seal the win.
Billy Burns is an intriguing talent, the 23 year old outfielder spent last season in High A and Double A ball, and was a dynamic force in both places. Burns posted an extremely impressive .315/.425/.383 line in 540 plate appearances and swiped 74 bases in the process. He’s a plus defender, playing primarily in left field with some center field mixed in as well. All signs though point to him being able to become more of a center fielder. His plate discipline had to be extremely enticing for Billy Beane, and they will look to nurture and develop that skill as he moves through the upper minors.