When it comes to pulling the trigger on blockbuster trades, A's general manager Billy Beane is fearless. On Thursday morning, several hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, he made one of his boldest moves in 17 years on the job.
Bold, indeed. It's too soon to say where this trade ranks among Beane's best, but is it the boldest he's ever swung? MLB.com breaks it down.
5. Nick Swisher for Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Sweeney and Fautino De Los Santos (2008)
In May 2007, the A's signed Swisher to a five-year contract with a club option for 2012. Their first-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Swisher averaged 26 home runs and 82 RBIs in three full seasons in green and gold.
Eight months later, Beane shipped Swisher to the White Sox. In return, he got southpaw Gonzalez, outfielder Sweeney and pitching prospect De Los Santos.
Whether the trade was a success is up for debate. Swisher continued to produce over the next five seasons. Gonzalez struggled for two years and then had two great ones in Oakland, while Sweeney was a serviceable offensive player and De Los Santos never panned out.
Regardless, trading Swisher for three unproven players was gutsy.
4. Dan Haren and Connor Robertson for Brett Anderson, Chris Carter, Aaron Cunningham, Carlos Gonzalez, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland (2007)
This trade with the D-backs was both bold and lucrative. Haren, 27 at the time, was coming off three straight 34-start seasons of at least 14 wins. He went on to be just as good for the next four years.
But the haul of prospects Beane received for Haren and Robertson -- who made just nine career appearances -- was eye-popping. You may recognize the names now, but at the time, five of the six players dealt by Arizona had not seen a minute in the Majors. All six reached The Show.
Anderson found a long-term home in the A's rotation. Gonzalez played 85 games for Oakland in 2008. Carter faltered before starting to find his swing in 2012. Smith and Eveland spent time in the rotation.
Beane traded his ace, but he squeezed quite a package of prospects out of Arizona.
3. Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and PTBNL for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel (2014)
Beane began his July by parting ways with his top two prospects, including shortstop-of-the-future Russell. It was a quintessential win-now move, jeopardizing the team's future to some extent in order to bolster an already great 2014 rotation.
The long-term implications of the trade remain to be seen, but Beane's boldness stunned even the A's players, who saw it as a sign that Beane views this as a special group.
Samardzija has been unstoppable in Oakland so far, while Hammel has struggled. Of course, Beane had something to say about that on Thursday.
2. Mark Mulder for Haren, Kiko Calero and Daric Barton (2004)
Before Beane could deal Haren, he first needed to trade for him. To do that, he let go of Mulder, a five-year cornerstone of the A's rotation.
What made this move especially bold is the fact that Beane had traded Tim Hudson, another member of the Big Three, just two days earlier. The A's had missed the playoffs in 2004 after four straight exits in the American League Division Series, and Oakland could no longer afford to hold its pitching juggernaut together.
Hudson netted the A's Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer and Charles Thomas, none of whom contributed much. Mulder, on the other hand, netted them Haren along with Calero, their setup man during the 2006 AL Championship Series run.
Losing Mulder and Hudson was tough for A's fans to stomach, but Mulder had just one good season in St. Louis before imploding in 2006. Haren was not yet a proven starter, but Beane stuck to his guns and it paid off.
1. Cespedes and a Competitive Balance pick for Lester, Gomes and cash considerations (2014)
This one takes the cake.
Beane has made one audacious move after the next since becoming the A's GM in October 1997, but on Thursday, he reached new heights.
Cespedes has tremendous power and an outstanding outfield arm, and he hit third, fourth or fifth 359 times over the past two-plus seasons while endearing himself to the Oakland fans. Trading a heart-of-the-order bat in the midst of a playoff run: very bold.
Lester, though, is sparkling in 2014 and has a 2.11 ERA in 13 career playoff games (11 starts). The A's potential postseason rotation of Lester, Samardzija, Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray is something to behold.
The greatest takeaway: Beane, at 52 years old, shows no sign of slowing down.
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.