The A's shipped veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Minnesota Twins just a couple of hours before today's non-waiver trade deadline, getting shortstop prospect Tyler Ladendorf in return.
A deal between the teams had been in the works for several days, and it further signals the A's emphasis on giving their younger prospects an opportunity at the major league level.
Cliff Pennington will be recalled today from Triple-A Sacramento and play shortstop on a regular basis, A's general manager Billy Beane said on a conference call this morning.
"We're going to use this as an opportunity to give Cliff a chance and see what he can do at the major league level," Beane said. "He's put in some time at Triple-A and he's a guy we think highly of. We want to give him the benefit of a big trial run. It's a position we need to address for the future."
Pennington, 25, hit .242 in 36 games with Oakland last season in his big league debut.
In an odd twist on the day's events, right-hander Justin Duchscherer was scratched from tonight's rehab start with Sacramento. It raises the possibility of whether the A's might be trying to work a trade for Duchscherer right before the 1 p.m. deadline, but Beane downplayed the chance of swinging another deal.
"We have nothing imminent right now," Beane said.
A team release said only that Duchscherer was scratched for a "non-baseball related issue." The A's are expected to have more information before tonight's game with Toronto.
USA Today reported this afternoon that Minnesota was still talking with the A's about a possible deal for reliever Michael Wuertz.
The Cabrera trade comes one week after the A's sent left fielder Matt Holliday to St. Louis for three prospects.
Signed by the A's to a one-year, $4 million deal during spring training, Cabrera was a trade candidate ever since the A's fell out of contention in the AL West.
He's raised his average from .229 to .280 since June 16 and is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak. The A's are also sending cash to Minnesota to offset some of Cabrera's salary.
Ladendorf, 21, was hitting .233 with four RBI in 15 games for low-Single A Beloit after getting promoted from the Twins rookie league team. He's reporting to the A's low Single-A Kane County (Ill.) squad.
The A's tracked him for a while. Minnesota drafted Ladendorf in the second round of the 2008 draft, and the A's had designs on taking him themselves if he had lasted later into the draft.
"We have familiarity with him as an amateur. He's an athletic kid with good speed. He's a big kid (6-feet, 210). He's a ways away, but we're pleased to get him in this deal."
Ladendorf wasn't ranked on Baseball America's Top 10 list of Twins prospects, and there's thought that perhaps he might be better suited to third base long-term.
The same thing is said to be a possibility for 2009 first-round pick Grant Green, a shortstop the A's drafted out of USC. Green still is unsigned, but the A's have until Aug. 17 to sign him before losing his rights, and Beane said draft pick negotiations often come along slowly.