A's acquire outfielder Smith for pair of arms

A's acquire outfielder Smith for pair of arms

A's acquire outfielder Smith for pair of arms
Having to part ways with a couple of starting pitchers hurt Billy Beane. It always does. But, as the Athletics' vice president and general manager said, "When you're in Oakland, you're always sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's very rare that you just add players."

Beane needed a corner-outfield bat, and he felt he had enough depth in the starting rotation to get it.

So on Monday, he pulled the trigger, sending righty Guillermo Moscoso and lefty Josh Outman to the Rockies for the left-handed-hitting Seth Smith -- a young power hitter who can help an A's offense that ranked 12th in the American League in runs scored last season, then lost Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to free agency.

"From a short-term or immediate need, [Smith] addressed an outfield spot that was wide open for us," Beane said, "and from a long-term standpoint he's a guy who's still in the prime of his career, who we have under contract for a minimum of three years, and he brings much-needed power to a group that has very little."

Smith, who recently agreed on a $2.415 million deal for the 2012 season, has hit .275 with a .346 on-base percentage while averaging 16 homers, 55 RBIs and 138 games over the last three years. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder registered a .284 batting average in 2011, hitting 32 doubles, nine triples, 15 home runs and 59 RBIs while stealing a career-high 10 bases in a career-high 147 games.

Beane envisions Smith playing left field and lefty-hitting Josh Reddick -- acquired from the Red Sox for closer Andrew Bailey -- starting in right, with right-handed hitter Collin Cowgill in the mix as a fourth outfielder and potential platoon mate.

The A's are also looking for some more right-handed-hitting-outfield depth -- but they now have a little punch from the left side.

"We're excited," Smith said, referring also to his wife, Lindsay, and daughter, Sienna Elizabeth. "I've seen the trade speculations, so we've been kind of trying to keep up as much as possible. I didn't want to look at anything too much, but there was a high likelihood that it could happen, and we're definitely excited about the opportunity. I was able to talk to Billy Beane earlier today, and he had some good things to say and some exciting things."

One topic on the agenda: How Smith can expect to see more action against left-handers. The 29-year-old has a career .881 on-base plus slugging percentage against righties and a career .588 OPS against lefties, but will welcome the opportunity "with open arms."

"I don't really see it as a challenge as much as I see it as an opportunity," said Smith, who holds the distinction of being quarterback Eli Manning's backup at Ole Miss. "I've hit lefties well in the past and for whatever reason, I haven't had as much success recently. But I've had good at-bats. I know what the numbers are, I know what it looks like, but I also know that it's not as bad as the numbers say it is."

Smith has another drastic split -- he sports a career .925 OPS in the thin air of Coors Field and a .750 OPS everywhere else. It's no different than that of many who have suited up for the Rockies in the past.

Now, he'll play half his games in one of baseball's most pitcher-friendly ballparks.

"There's no way around that," Smith said. "But ultimately, baseball is baseball. From what I hear, there's a lot of green grass in Oakland, and my job is to find it."

Moscoso, 28, posted an 8-10 record and a 3.38 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) for Oakland last season. It was the right-hander's first year with the A's after posting a 4.30 ERA in 11 relief appearances with Texas over the previous two seasons.

Outman returned last year after missing the entire 2010 season following Tommy John surgery in June '09. The 27-year-old lefty went 3-5 with a 3.70 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) over two stints with the A's in 2011, and is 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 career appearances, including 25 starts, over three seasons.

Both have Minor League options left, and Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd expects both to take part in what he called a "spirited competition" for rotation spots in Spring Training.

Reached by phone on Monday, Outman called the move from Oakland, a place he's spent the last three years, to Colorado "a little bittersweet."

"I thought it was going to be kind of a breakout year for me [in Oakland] now that I've gotten fully over the surgery and everything, and an opportunity to get back into the rotation," Outman added. "But I think I'm going to get a really good opportunity with Colorado. Just another place where I know they want me."

Moscoso, ironically enough, was about to begin a workout with former Oakland ace Gio Gonzalez in Miami when he found out he had been dealt for the third time in his career.

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't expect that one. I was really surprised. But it's a business. It's just all about baseball. You never know what's going to happen. I just have to keep doing my best, and now that I have a new team, it's like a new opportunity."

The A's traded Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill this offseason, but they still have an assortment of arms that will be in the mix for rotation spots heading into Spring Training.

There are in-house guys like Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross, Graham Godfrey and the recovering Dallas Braden, and there are newcomers like Tom Milone, Brad Peacock (both acquired from the Nationals for Gonzalez) and Jarrod Parker (acquired from the D-backs for Cahill).

They also agreed in principle on a contract with veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon a couple of days ago -- though Beane couldn't comment on the deal because it's still pending a physical.

"The fact that we had acquired so much young pitching in the trades earlier, it probably forces us to give those guys a chance right out of the gate," Beane said. "And I think with a couple of those guys, they are ready to take that step."

As for how Beane now feels about his offense?

"I'm happier today than I was yesterday, but we'll see," he said. "I don't think you're ever happy. We had a pretty good hill to climb offensively, but I think at least we made some [progress]. We still have a couple weeks left, and we'll see where it goes from there."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. Thomas Harding contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.