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Doing their part to keep the transaction wire buzzing, the Oakland A’s traded reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday for minor league outfielder Billy Burns.
The A’s clearly showed up to the winter meetings in Florida with more on their minds than mailing home postcards. On Tuesday, they dealt left-hander Brett Anderson to Colorado for pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen. Coupled with the Blevins move, this is the busiest winter meetings the A’s have had in recent memory.
Their activity is all the more astonishing given the flurry of moves they completed last week. Oakland acquired relievers Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and outfielder Craig Gentry in trades and signed free agent starter Scott Kazmir.
That makes five trades and one signing over a 10-day period from the two-time defending American League West champions, who had a solid roster to begin with this offseason.
Blevins broke into the majors with Oakland back in September 2007, having been acquired from the Cubs earlier that season in a deal that sent catcher Jason Kendall to Chicago. He was 13-6 with a 3.30 ERA over seven seasons, and his 281 appearances are tied for sixth on Oakland’s all-time list.
Blevins served as the A’s union rep and was the team’s second-longest tenured player behind first baseman Daric Barton.
His bullpen role grew in importance over the past few seasons, but the A’s felt like they had enough left-handed relief arms to deal Blevins, who is slated to make around $1.5 million through arbitration in 2014.
Strangely enough, the recent acquisition of another lefty from Washington, Fernando Abad, gave the A’s the flexibility to ship Blevins back to the Nationals. Oakland has Abad, Sean Doolittle, Pedro Figueroa and, potentially, the newly acquired Drew Pomeranz as left-handed relief options.
A’s GM Billy Beane said Tuesday that the team would shift its offseason focus to acquiring minor league depth, and landing the switch-hitting Burns is an indication of that. Burns, primarily a center fielder, was named the Nationals’ minor league player of the year in 2013, hitting .315 with no homers, 37 RBI and 74 stolen bases in a season split between Single-A and Double-A.
Baseball America did not rank the 24-year-old among Washington’s top 10 prospects in its latest rankings, but the publication did list Burns as the fastest base runner and possessing the best strike-zone discipline in the Nationals’ farm system.