OAKLAND -- The A's parted with their most prized possession ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, sending right-hander Sonny Gray to the Yankees in a deal for three prospects Monday.
Oakland landed center fielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Jorge Mateo and right-hander James Kaprielian in a trade that's been in the works for weeks. In addition, the A's packaged $1.5 million in international bonus slot cash with their ace, as they forge ahead on the path of rebuilding.
"They've got a really deep system, so we were pretty focused on each other," A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. "We felt like in Sonny we had what they wanted and needed, not just this year and going forward, and the Yankees have arguably one of the deepest farm systems in the game, so we were pretty locked in on them pretty early."
Beane said several clubs inquired on Gray, but none as serious as the Yankees, who came equipped with a plethora of prospects in their chase for Gray, who is under club control through 2018. Though several players were off-limits, Beane wasn't scared away, instead focusing on the next tier of talent in New York's system. He also didn't shy away from taking a risk on a pair of injured players: Fowler is recovering from right knee surgery, while Kaprielian is on the mend from Tommy John surgery.
Exhaustive medical reviews were orchestrated on both sides -- Gray was injured much of last year and started this season on the DL -- and Beane walked away feeling "very comfortable with where they're at in their rehab and when they'll be ready."
Fowler, who was ranked by MLBPipeline.com as New York's No. 4 prospect, is expected to be ready by Spring Training and "hopefully part of our Major League club next year," per Beane. He was hitting .293 with 13 homers in 70 games at Triple-A upon his June 29 promotion, tearing a tendon in his right knee in the first inning of his big league debut.
Kaprielian (ranked No. 12) is less than four months removed from surgery, as the A's target May for his return, while Mateo (No. 8) will head to Double-A Midland to play shortstop.
Mateo, whose 39 steals are second-most in the Minors, was essential to the completion of the deal. He was hitting .300 in 30 games after being promoted to Double-A.
"He's really fast," Beane said. "We've been sitting on the Yankees the last couple weeks and he just kept rising up the list. Just an explosive athlete. Can really do a lot of things on the bases. A nice guy to have in the center of the diamond."
The 23-year-old Kaprielian was a first-round pick out of UCLA in 2015 -- Beane targeted him in the same Draft -- and has a 2.48 ERA in just seven professional games (six starts). That the A's even requested him in a trade demonstrates their willingness to practice patience in their quest for contention -- a reality that may not come into focus for several years.
"We're in last place, so we needed to do something," Beane said. "Sonny was a great player for us, but at this point we need a lot of great players. There's a talent deficit that exists right now, and the way to acquire multiple good players is to trade some of the good players you currently have. I think we were pretty clear about the direction we were going to go in the last couple of weeks in getting younger, and hopefully the next cycle is one that we maintain these players, and I think that's the goal here."
Gray, 27, was drafted by the A's in the first round in 2011, debuting two years later and turning in a 44-36 record with a 3.42 ERA in 114 career appearances (112 starts) for Oakland. He was a member of two playoff teams, engaging in memorable pitching duels with Detroit's Justin Verlander in the '13 American League Division Series.
"We were close and we wish him the best, and we'll be watching," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I think he landed at a great spot.
"Anybody who's been with one organization gets a little stunned by it. Even though he probably expected it, he was a little bit stunned. But once he gets there and gets with the group of guys and sees what it's like playing postseason in New York, he's going to be excited."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.