The Oakland Athletics are still making moves. In their third significant transaction in 24 hours, the A's have acquired outfielder Craig Gentry from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfield prospect Michael Choice. Also in the trade, Josh Lindblom heads to Oakland, and Chris Bostick heads to Texas.
The 30-year old Gentry enters his first of three arbitration seasons in 2014, and is projected to make just $1.1 million by MLBTR. In 2013, Gentry hit .280/.373/.386 with 24 stolen bases in 27 opportunities. Gentry is also a top-tier defensive center fielder, and could take over full-time for the A's with Coco Crisp hitting free agency after the 2014 season.
The 24-year old Choice was the tenth overall pick by the A's in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Texas at Arlington. He spent the 2013 season at AAA Sacramento for Oakland, hitting .302/.390/.445 with 14 home runs. He was Oakland's #2 prospect going into 2014. according to Baseball Prospectus.
Lindblom is your typical middle reliever. Originally drafted by the Dodgers, the 26-year old reliever was traded to the Phillies in 2012 before getting dealt to Texas that winter. Over his career, Lindblom has a 3.82 ERA in 132 innings. His major downfall is a propensity to allow home runs, something that could be muted playing in Oakland. Bostick ranked as BP's eighth-best prospect this winter, and the 20-year old second baseman hit .282/.354/.452 in 2013 with 14 home runs and 25 stolen bases for class-A Beloit.
To me, this trade looks like one for the future for both teams. Acquiring Gentry says to me that Oakland isn't confident in Choice's ability to play center field. With their glut of corner outfielders on the roster, he was likely deemed expendable to acquire an elite defender in center that could step in when Crisp is ready to depart after 2014. Meanwhile, the Rangers pick up six years of control of Choice, and they could probably plug him into their lineup on Opening Day if the club isn't able to sign an outfielder over the rest of the winter. They also get an intriguing prospect in Bostick who could pay dividends further down the road.
I think Oakland paid too much of a price for a modest upgrade in 2015 and 2016. Throwing Gentry into a crowded outfield mix is giving me an inkling that the A's, somehow, might not even be done dealing quite yet. When you throw in the fact that they still have Brett Anderson dangling out there as well, Oakland might end up with a blockbuster still left to pull off.