But since then, about a month later, a flurry of moves have remade the A's roster in hurry.
- December 2 -- Oakland acquires All-Star closer Jim Johnson from the Baltimore Orioles;
- December 3 -- The A's trade Michael Choice to Texas for outfielder Craig Gentry;
- December 3 -- Oakland sends Seth Smith to San Diego for relief pitcher Luke Gregerson;
- December 4 -- The A's sign starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal;
- December 10 -- Oakland trades Brett Anderson to Colorado for starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz;
- December 11-- The A's send Jerry Blevins to Washington for outfielder Billy Burns;
- December 19 -- Oakland acquires outfielder Corey Brown from the Nationals;
- December 20 -- The A's claim catcher Chris Gimenez off waivers from Tampa Bay.
And just like that, General Manager Billy Beane -- who was named Baseball America's MLB Executive of the Year on December 3, as well -- has turned over a good part of the Oakland lineup, pitching staff and bullpen in the blink of an eye.
(This was also the fourth time Beane has won an Executive of the Year as well, as he previous won the BA award in 2002, and he was named The Sporting News award winner in 1999 and 2012.)
A quick rundown of these moves sees the bullpen gain some depth while maintaining its back-end strength. Gregerson has posted a 2.88 career ERA in five seasons with the Padres, and he will provide some serious firepower in the relief corps: he has 352 career strikeouts in 347 innings.
Between Ryan Cook, Sean Dootlittle, Danny Otero, Gregerson and the newly-acquired Johnson (who led the majors in saves both the last two seasons), the A's should be very effective is securing late-inning leads.
In acquiring the three new outfielders, Oakland has also replaced Smith and Chris Young, who signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. Gentry can play all three positions, and behind starters Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Josh Reddick, he'll also add a strong veteran presence to the roster.
Gentry is a career .280 hitter in 669 at-bats with 56 steals over parts of five seasons with the Rangers. Like the trade of Grant Green to the Los Angeles Angels last summer, this is the second time Beane has traded a former No. 1 pick to a division rival for added depth on his own roster.
(In theory, that could mean many things: the A's don't think the departed players are that good, and/or Oakland is making a push to win big now. Few will argue with Beane's methods or his results, and those four EOTY awards sing pretty loudly to critics of the A's and their organizational choices.)
Burns was the Nationals' Minor League Player of the Year in 2013, so while the A's upgraded from Blevins to Gregerson, they also basically landed a 24-year-old speedster in the outfielder in exchange for Smith.
The outfielder hit .315 last year with a .425 on-base percentage and 74 steals in combined Single A and Double AA action.
Brown originally was drafted by the A's in 2007 and sent to Washington in 2010 as part of the Josh Willingham deal. His career minor-league OPS (.835) could see him getting some action in Oakland in 2013, finally.
And then there's the rotation: Bartolo Colon also went to the Mets as a free agent, and Kazmir will take his place. The 29-year-old lefty had a bounce-back year with Cleveland after missing most of 2011 and 2012 with injuries. Kazmir went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA and 162 Ks in 158 innings.
The rotation now looks like Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Kazmir, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin for now, although lefties Tommy Milone and Pomeranz -- a former No. 1 pick himself -- could challenge for a spot.
So overall, the A's have gotten younger, deeper and probably better so far this winter, and that's why Oakland fans will always love Billy Beane.