For the Oakland A’s, the turn of the century saw their fortunes rise.
After six consecutive losing seasons, the A’s finished 12 games over .500 in 1999 and that was just the beginning. Beginning in 2000, the A’s averaged 95 wins per season for the first seven years of the new century.
While the rise was built on the back of some terrific drafts – starters Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, first baseman Jason Giambi and third baseman Eric Chavez -- and players coming out of the season like shortstop Miguel Tejada and catcher Ramon Hernandez – many of the key supplemental muscle in the roster came from trades.
General manager Sandy Alderson moved up to the role of club president before the 1998 season. His replacement, Billy Beane, was stuck with minimal money for available for salaries, but he was able to engineer a number of trades to put the A’s in the pennant chase year after year.
In this time of baseball being shut down during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it seems like a good moment to look back at the A’s trades decade by decade. We’ve already looked at the trades of the 1970s and 1980s, and this is a year-by-year rating of the most consequential trades for each year, 2000-09.
The deal: On Feb. 18, the A’s traded pitcher Brett Laxton to Kansas City in exchange for outfielder Jeremy Giambi.
The result: Giambi’s tenure with the A’s lasted 2½ seasons, and it included what was perhaps the single most consequential base-running gaffe in franchise history. The A’s were up two games to none in the 2001 AL Division Series and were ready for a knockout of the Yankees. With Barry Zito pitching the Yankees got just two hits, but one was Jorge Posada’s solo homer. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy Giambi singled, then tried to score on a shot into the right field corner by Terrence Long. Right fielder Shane Spencer made a terrible throw, but Derek Jeter came out of nowhere to catch the ball in foul territory and flip it to Posada at the plate. Kerwin Danley called Giambi, who didn’t slide, out. Was he out? Watching the video, probably not. But the call stood, the A’s lost 1-0 and the Yankees went on to win Games 4 and 5 to knock out the A’s.
The deal: On Jan. 8, 2001 as part of a three-way deal, the A’s trade outfielder Ben Grieve to the Rays and shortstop Angel Berroa and catcher A.J. Hinch to the Royals. In return, the A’s got pitcher Cory Lidle from the Rays and outfielder Johnny Damon and second baseman Mark Ellis from the Royals.
The result: Lidle won 13 games in 2001 and just eight in 2002, but there is no A’s record 20-game win streak in August-September of 2002 without Lidle. He allowed just one earned run in four starts during the streak, although he did take the loss on Sept. 6 when the streak came to an end. Damon spent just one year with the A’s, but he was a big part of the team’s 102-win 2001 season, scoring 108 runs as the team’s leadoff hitter. Ellis would spend the next nine years in the middle of the A’s infield as the second baseman.
The deal: On Nov. 16, the A’s traded closer Billy Koch and a player to be named later to the White Sox and in exchange received closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson and pitcher Joe Valentine.
The result: The A’s only had Foulke for one year, but Oakland won 96 games, and Foulke was involved in more than half of them, winning nine and saving 43 with a 2.08 ERA.
The deal: On Nov. 26, the A’s traded catcher Ramon Hernandez and outfielder Terrence Long to the Padres and received outfielder/first baseman Mark Kotsay.
The result: Kotsay would go on to be a mainstay of the A’s lineup for the next four years. Hernandez had hit 60 homers in his five years with the A’s. He’d go on to hit another 109 bombs as he played for another decade. Long would have one good season with the Padres, but he was out of baseball by 2007.
The deals: On Dec. 16, the A’s traded Tim Hudson to the Braves, receiving infielder Juan Cruz, pitcher Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas. Two days later, on Dec. 18, the A’s traded Mark Mulder to the Cardinals, receiving first baseman Daric Barton, reliever Kiko Calero and starter Dan Haren.
The result: In dismantling their Big Three rotation, the A’s got almost nothing for Hudson. Cruz (0-3) and Meyer (0-6) never won a game for the A’s and Thomas played in just 30 games. The payback for Mulder was much better. Barton spent most of the next eight seasons with Oakland as a low-power, high-on-base hitter, including an AL-leader 110 walks in 2010. Calero pitched four years of decent middle relief and Haren averaged 14 wins the next three seasons.
The deal: On Dec. 13, the A’s traded Andre Ethier to the Dodgers, receiving outfielder Milton Bradley and middle infielder Antonio Perez.
The result: Bradley played one year and 19 games of a second season before being traded. Perez played one year with the A’s. Meanwhile. Ethier would go on to play his entire 12-year career with the Dodgers, finishing with a .285 career batting average with 162 career homers.
The deal: On March 23, the A’s traded pitcher. Juan Cruz and received started Brad Halsey.
The result: Halsey’s one season with the A’s would see him got 5-4, the only winning season of his career. He wouldn’t pitch in the big leagues again. Cruz, who’d gone 0-3 in his only Oakland season, would go 24-12 for the rest of his career with a 3.78 ERA over the next seven seasons.
The deal: On Dec. 14, the A’s traded starter Dan Haren and reliever Connor Robertson to the Diamondbacks and received starter Brett Anderson, first baseman Chris Carter, outfielder Aaron Cunningham, pitcher Dana Eveland, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and pitcher Greg Smith.
The result: Essentially, the A’s traded Haren, who’d won 43 games the previous three seasons, for Anderson, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues before and who’d go 26-29 over the next five seasons in Oakland and Carter, who struggled for two seasons before a 16-homer season in 2012. Gonzalez played one year before being traded. Two years after that, he’d win the batting title en route to one of his three All-Star seasons.
The deal: On July 8, the A’s traded pitcher Chad Gaudin and pitcher Rich Harden to the Cubs and received catcher Josh Donaldson, pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton and infielder/outfielder Eric Patterson
The result: This was a mostly forgettable trade, or would have been had the A’s not pushed Donaldson into emergency duty at third base in 2012. He’d go on to be one of the faces of the A’s resurgence from 2012-15 and after a subsequent trade to the Blue Jays, he’d win the MVP in his first year in Toronto, leading the league in both runs batted in and runs scored.
The deal: On July 24, the A’s traded outfielder Matt Holliday to the Cardinals and received pitcher Clayton Mortensen, outfielder Shane Peterson and infielder Brett Wallace.
The result: Holliday was never happy during his brief stay in Oakland after coming over in a post-2008 trade from the Rockies. The A’s got almost nothing in return from Holliday, who’d been a three-time All-Star before the trade and would be an All-Star four more times after the deal.