Athletics' Busy Offseason Blocks Some Young Players





OAKLAND—Athletics fans aren't the only ones confused by the organization's dizzying array of offseason moves.

"I was thinking, 'They got a plan. I don't know what it is, but they got a plan,' " second baseman Jemile Weeks said. "And I'm on board for whatever they're doing."

Oakland traded No. 1 starter Trevor Cahill, No. 2 Gio Gonzalez and closer Andrew Bailey all in the span of three weeks in December.

General manager Billy Beane and assistant David Forst dealt away the stars to acquire a boatload of youth, with a stated plan of building toward 2015 when the team might be ready to move into a new stadium in San Jose—but only if Major League Baseball finally approves that plan.

The A's appeared to block certain segments of the youth movement, however, when they re-signed Coco Crisp and imported free agents Bartolo Colon and Jonny Gomes. A subsequent trade yielded corner outfielder Seth Smith from the Rockies, and then they spent big to sign Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.

That leaves holdovers Michael Taylor and Jermaine Mitchell or offseason trade acquisitions Josh Reddick and Collin Cowgill battling for playing time in the outfield.

Former top prospect Chris Carter must bypass Gomes at DH and beat out Brandon Allen, Daric Barton and Kila Ka'aihue at first base to earn regular playing time.

"I don't think there's an urgency or a need that those guys have to be here on April 1," Forst said. "Carter and Taylor are not out of options. If what they need is more time in Triple-A, they'll have that option."

Neither Taylor nor Carter has seized a big league job. The 26-year-old Taylor's power has waned in Triple-A (.428 slugging), while Carter, 25, has faltered in two big league trials, batting 19-for-114 (.167). Oakland continues to hold out hope for them.

"There's a fifth outfield spot, and a DH spot to be grabbed," Forst said. "So either one of those guys have an opportunity to be on the 25-man roster."

A's ACORNS

• Mitchell said that his knee was fine after surgery and he will be ready to go at the beginning of spring training.

• The A's lost Adrian Cardenas on a waiver claim to the Cubs. He might fit better in the National League as a potential bat-first utility player.