NASHVILLE -- The A's are still in the mix for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. A's general manager Billy Beane noted that he would meet with Drew's agent Scott Boras, "probably sooner than later," at the Winter Meetings. Drew was acquired by Oakland on August 20 in a trade with the Diamondbacks. He hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 39 games with the A's. The patient shortstop drew 18 walks and played sound defense as he recovered from an ankle fracture he sustained in 2011 with Arizona. Oakland had a mutual option on Drew but declined it after the season. Had Drew and the A's decided to stay together, the shortstop would have earned 10 million in 2013. Now the A's have the opportunity to sign Drew for multiple years at a more reasonable annual rate."Shortstop is a position that we are focused on right now," Beane said from his suite in the Gaylord Opryland hotel. "Beyond that I don't see a lot of glaring needs." A's manager Bob Melvin said that Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima's name has come up in internal meetings. Beane admitted that he could also be somebody the team looks at.Beane said the organization isn't interested in rushing first round pick Addison Russell to take over at shortstop, and that prospect Grant Green isn't considered to be an option there either. Green could be in the mix for a job at second base, though.
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Don't hold you breath for the A's to fill the void at shortstop at the Winter Meetings. The term "market makers" came up frequently in talks with Beane, and the team's strategy is to wait and see what the market dictates by evaluating what other offers are on the table for the players they are interested in. In short, the reigning General Manager of the Year is comfortable waiting. If things don't go well on the free agent market, the A's are open to acquiring a shortstop via trade, but they aren't interested in moving any of their starting pitchers to make it happen. In order to land a quality shortstop, it will likely cost them pitching in return. That would limit the A's to using prospects as trade chips. Oakland has six Major League-caliber starting pitchers but they are always concerned with depth in the starting rotation. Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon, A.J. Griffin, and Dan Straily are all candidates to make the starting rotation. "One of the reasons we are so reluctant to move our young guys is because it's one thing to move them, but to replace them is so challenging," Beane said. It also remains a possibility that Oakland could still sign free agent pitcher Brandon McCarthy to give them even more depth on the mound. The A's have been in contact with McCarthy and his agent, but noted there's still a lot of time left to sign players. "I would expect given his talents and the lack of starting pitching out there that he is going to be attractive to a lot of teams," Beane said of McCarthy. When on the mound McCarthy was extremely effective. Behind the scenes he helped the young pitchers prepare themselves. He had a career-best 3.24 ERA in 2012, and 1.95 walks per nine innings, which ranked him eighth among AL pitchers with 100 or more innings. "That door is always open until it's closed," Melvin said of McCarthy. In addition to the young starting pitchers, Beane said he wouldn't want to part with relievers Sean Doolittle or Ryan Cook. Those are his two most valuable bullpen trade chips. With rumors flying around the lobby like baseballs from a Jugs Pitching Machine, keep everything in stride. The A's will be taking their time at the Winter Meetings.
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