Scott Kazmir and Jim Johnson were the big names coming to Oakland last week and Michael Choice was the big name heading out of town which left the Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson trade a notable transaction but one unworthy of a ton of fanfare or examination.
But now that the dust has settled on general manager Billy Beane‘s hyperactive flurry of moves it looks like the A’s are in a holding pattern until he pulls the trigger on a rumored Brett Anderson trade. That leaves me with a little time on my hands and the luxury of taking a long look at the Smith-Gregerson deal. After a little work I have arrived at a logical conclusion: Joe Blanton, Rich Harden, Jason Giambi and Khalil Greene made it all possible.
Sound insane? Just stick with me for a moment.
Sure, you can look at the Smith-Gregerson trade and just see a couple of teams with modest budgets swapping arbitration-eligible spare parts and leave it at that. But I’m always entertained by the convoluted way a lot of things end up coming together in Oakland thanks to Beane’s endless wheeling and dealing.
All it takes is some curiosity, free time and the magic of Baseball Reference and Wikipedia and you have a winding, twisting path to a recent trade that reaches all the way back to 1992 when the A’s drafted Jason Giambi.
HOW IT ALL GETS BACK TO KHALIL GREENE
Back in 2008, the Padres traded Khalil Greene to the Cardinals for Mark Worrell and a player to be named later. The PTBNL was none other than Luke Gregerson, Oakland’s shiny new setup man who same over from San Diego in exchange for Seth Smith.
HOW IT ALL GETS BACK TO BLANTON, HARDEN and GIAMBI
This is where you may get a headache, at least I know I did.
Moscoso takes us on a long journey through Beane’s endless string of suprisingly fruitful minor transactions. The A’s got Moscoso from the Rangers in 2011 for Ryan Kelly. Who the heck is Ryan Kelly? I have no idea but I do know that the A’s got him from the Pirates in 2010 for Corey Wimberly. Wimberly was caught up in this whole mess when Beane acquired him from the Rockies in 2009 for Matt Murton. Murton, who’s become a force to be reckoned with in Japan, was part of the loot Beane got from the Cubs in 2008 for none other than brittle Rich “I was Brett Anderson before Brett Anderson was Brett Anderson” Harden.
Josh Donaldson was part of that A’s-Cubs Harden deal too so your back-to-back AL West champs will head into next season armed with Gregerson and Donaldson playing key roles in a run at the third consecutive division title.
So we’ve managed to trace the Smith-Gregerson deal back to Rich Harden, now it’s time to take it back to Blanton and Giambi.
As I mentioned earlier in this meandering post Josh Outman was part of the trade that brought Smith from Colorado to Oakland. Outman, as you probably remember, was one of the key prospects in the 2008 trade that sent Joe Blanton to the Phillies. So that gets us to Blanton.
Big Joe Blanton gets us all the way back to former AL MVP and A’s star Jason Giambi. What the heck do the two men have in common? Blanton was drafted by the A’s in 2002 with the compensatory pick they received when the Yankees signed Giambi as a free agent.
So there you have it. The Seth Smith-Luke Gregerson trade wouldn’t have been possible without Khalil Greene, Rich Harden, Joe Blanton, Jason Giambi and I guess the New York Yankees.
For the A’s, as unbelievable as it sounds, drafting Jason Giambi is still paying off. Same goes for letting him leave as a free agent even though it broke a lot of hearts in Oakland. And Rich Harden may not have provided the A’s much in the last few years of his career in green and gold but he did help set the team up with Gregerson and Donaldson.
There’s no way the A’s would have won the division two years in a row without Donaldson and I’m sure Gregerson is going to get his fair share of key outs this year as Oakland makes another run at the playoffs.
It all just goes to show that even Beane’s minor moves for players you’ve never heard of or can barely remember years later can end up paying off down the line.