San Diego Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes got a jump on next week's winter meetings with a series of roster moves. The most interesting -- and curious -- came Tuesday when the Padres traded eighth-inning bullpen specialist Luke Gregerson to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith.
Byrnes had said over the weekend that he had deals in the works to land a badly needed left-handed bat, which Smith is. However, the Padres don't really need another part-time outfielder -- they need a middle of the lineup stick, which Smith hasn't been to this point in his career.
That makes you wonder if Byrnes feels Gregerson has outlived his usefulness in San Diego, where he has been the setup man for All-Star closers Heath Bell and Huston Street.
Smith, 31, hit .253 with 27 doubles, eight home runs and 40 runs batted in over 117 games for the A's in 2013. The left-handed hitter started 97 games this past season, including 46 as the designated hitter, 43 in left field and eight in right field. Originally drafted by the Rockies in 2004, Smith is a career .265 hitter with 73 home runs, a .342 on-base percentage and .456 slugging percentage. His career high in homers since he came to the big leagues to stay in 2008 is 17 (in 2010).
The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has never been able to establish himself as an everyday player.
Gregerson, 29, went 6-8 with four saves, a 2.71 earned run average and 64 strikeouts in 73 relief appearances this past season. The right-hander was originally signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a 28th-round selection in the 2006 draft and was acquired by the Padres in March 2009 as part of the deal for infielder Khalil Greene.
Over five major league seasons, all with the Padres (2009-13), he has gone 17-22 with 16 saves, a 2.88 ERA and 352 strikeouts in 363 relief appearances. Gregerson has been considered one of the NL's top eighth-inning men and logged nine saves in 2012 while Street was injured. However, he blew five save opportunities this past season.
Earlier this week, the Padres re-signed veteran pitchers Tim Stauffer and Eric Stults. Stauffer, the team's long man out of the pen, made 43 appearances after returning from elbow surgery. Stults, who became the club's top left-hander in the injury-forced absences of Clayton Richard and Cory Luebke, went 11-13 with a 3.93 ERA while leading the team with 33 starts and 203.2 innings pitched.
Stults is 19-16 since joining the Padres in 2012. He reportedly received a raise from the $507,600 he received last season to $2.75 million.