A's send shortstop Cabrera to Twins
Oakland lands prospect Ladendorf; Pennington to play short
OAKLAND -- The A's on Friday turned weeks of speculation into truth, sending shortstop Orlando Cabrera and cash to the Twins hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in exchange for Minor League shortstop Tyler Ladendorf.
Long rumored to be headed for Minnesota, Cabrera was dealt one week after the A's sent outfielder Matt Holliday to the Cardinals for three Minor Leaguers.
A's general manager Billy Beane said he'd heard "a little here, a little there" from other clubs interested in Cabrera over the past month, but Minnesota was by far the most aggressive in its pursuit.
"The Twins certainly showed the most desire to acquire him, and it seemed like they had the greatest need," Beane said. "So we really focused on them the last week to 10 days."
Cabrera, who signed a one-year, $4-million contract as a free agent during Spring Training, reportedly has a clause in his deal that will pay him $250,000 for being traded.
Cabrera, 34, is batting .381 since the All-Star break, and he leads the American League in hits (41) for the month of July. Asked this week about the prospect of being traded, he said he loved playing in Oakland and noted how much his family enjoyed living in nearby Alameda, Calif.
"It was an absolute pleasure to have him here," Beane said. "Over the past month, he was playing great baseball with us, with a lot of energy, and he was a wonderful guy to have."
Asked if he'd be interested in re-acquiring Cabrera as a free agent this winter, Beane cited tampering rules in declining to comment with any specificity.
"Given he's now Twins property," Beane offered, "it wouldn't be a good idea to address his potential free agency."
Ladendorf, 21, was a second-round pick of the Twins in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Recently promoted to Class A Beloit, he's batting .233 in 15 games. Ladendorf began the season with Rookie league Elizabethon and batted .410 with four homers and 17 RBIs before earning the promotion.
"He's a kid we really liked a lot in the ['08] Draft," Beane said. "We were going to draft him with the next pick before the Twins selected him. We had a lot of great reports on him, so we have some familiarity with him as an amateur. ... He's an athletic kid with speed, and he's a pretty physical kid.
"He's a ways away [from the big leagues], but we're pretty pleased to get him in this deal. Their reluctance to part with him was what held [the trade] up initially."
Beane said Ladendorf, who is listed at 6-foot, 185 pounds, will be assigned to Class A Kane County, and he could be moved to another position down the road based on the club's needs and Ladendorf's physical development.
"We're gonna leave him at short right now ... we'll see how it goes," Beane said. "But he's a good-sized kid and probably hasn't stopped growing. In a perfect world, he plays [shortstop]."
With Cabrera gone, the A's will take an extended look at Cliff Pennington, who is batting .264 with a .345 on-base percentage, three home runs, 40 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 31 attempts over 91 games at Triple-A Sacramento.
Pennington, 25, was Oakland's first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, out of Texas A&M.
"We're going to use this as an opportunity to give Cliff a chance to see what he can do at the Major League level for an extended time," Beane said. "He's a guy we think highly of, and we want to give him the benefit of an extended trial run. He's earned the right."
Pennington was called up to the A's in August last season and batted .171 over his first 17 games. He started the final 19 games, batting .281.
"He's a very good defender and a good baserunner who gets on base at a high rate," Beane said. "You have to be careful about judging players when they play sporadically, which he's done when he's been up here. Young players develop at a different rate, and it helps knowing they're going to be in the lineup every day."
Bobby Crosby, the 2004 American League Rookie of the Year and Oakland's primary starter at shortstop -- when healthy -- through last season, was turned into a utility infielder in the wake of the Cabrera signing, and he told MLB.com Friday morning that he assumed he'd be given his starting job back.
When reached after Beane's conference call, Crosby, who is batting .324 in July, but .222 overall, was sorely disappointed to hear he won't be playing every day.
"It's a joke," said Crosby, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. "I've been taking ground balls [at shortstop] every day in the event that something like this happened, and I've been swinging the bat great. It's an absolute joke.
"I thought the idea is to put the team on the field that gives you the best chance to win, and I think I can play the position pretty well."
Oakland used its top pick in this year's Draft on USC shortstop Grant Green, who is represented by Scott Boras. The sides have yet to make significant progress toward a deal, and if Grant doesn't sign by Aug. 17, he'll go back into the Draft next year.
"I've had conversations with Scott, [but] there haven't been a whole lot of details being discussed," Beane said. "I don't think it's necessarily because there's ... a potential breakdown in negotiations. Historically, Scott has been one who prefers to wait."
Although right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who had elbow surgery this spring, has been mentioned in trade rumors and was scratched from his scheduled rehab start Friday due to "a non-baseball related issue," Beane said he didn't expect to make any more deals before Friday's 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline.
"You never know, but I would say probably [not]," Beane said. "There's nothing imminent."
Beane confirmed that he'd received a number of calls regarding other players, and while he didn't offer any names, righty reliever Michael Wuertz has been on the trade rumor mill for some time.
"A lot of our young players have drawn some interest, but given what we're trying to build here, it wasn't something we were very open-minded to," Beane said. "There was one player who drew a lot of interest, and I'll let you play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey on that one."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.