On the meetings' penultimate day, as they prepared to depart with their two prized starting pitchers -- Dan Haren and Joe Blanton -- still in the fold, A's general manager Billy Beane and his brass spent the afternoon amused by the "news" that they had landed New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes in a three-way trade involving Minnesota Twins ace Johan Santana. Such is life in the Internet era.
"That," Beane said, "is the winter meetings at its best. Or, depending on how you look at it, its worst."
The wayward rumor -- which had Santana going to the Mets along with A's shortstop Bobby Crosby and first baseman Dan Johnson, Haren going to Minnesota, and Reyes and Mets pitching prospect Kevin Mulvey to the A's -- originated on mlbtraderumors.com, which cited a "trusted" New York sportswriter. Beane said he had no idea where the rumor originated, and he, along with sources from the Twins and Mets, said it had no validity.
Nevertheless, it was the buzz of the lobby for at least a few hours, even making its way to the workout room, where Beane was exercising with baseball operations analyst Farhan Zaidi.
"I'm on the bike, and (Zaidi) is on the treadmill, and he figures out a way to get on the Internet, and he says, 'Hey look at this,'" Beane said. "Of all the trade rumors in all my career, that one's" the furthest from the truth.
The real news was that the A's spent Day 3 of the meetings more quietly than a mouse in a cage. Assistant general manager David Forst met with Damon Lapa, the agent for free-agent outfielder Geoff Jenkins, and Lapa indicated he believes the A's are intrigued. Jenkins, 33, hit .255 with 21 home runs and 64 RBI for Milwaukee last season, and he can play both corner outfield positions. But he would be yet another left-handed bat in an A's lineup already full of them, and Travis Buck and Nick Swisher are penciled in to play left and right field, respectively.
Beane and Forst also met with Alan Hendricks, the agent for A's closer Huston Street.
The A's didn't follow up their Tuesday meeting with the Arizona Diamondbacks, leading to speculation that the Diamondbacks' attempts to pry away Haren with a bevy of low-level prospects won't suffice. Beane and Los Angeles Dodgers GM Ned Colletti also chatted by phone, but the Dodgers are not believed to be serious contenders for either pitcher.
It may be, too, that no team will be able to talk Beane out of his two aces. As much as Beane talked about the possibility of moving the two before the winter is over, he has spent the past two days saying that he may be more apt to keep them.
"If we were going to do anything, other teams knew it was not going to be a cheap dance," he said. "... A team would have to be extremely generous. If they don't want to be, no problem."
Beane said all the conversations regarding Haren and Blanton -- the two starters who combined for 29 wins and 452ª innings last season -- have been initiated by other teams, but nothing has grabbed his fancy. He also said with each passing day, he's sees the A's immediate future more as half-full rather than half-empty.
"We're still intrigued about (what will happen) if we're healthy and interested in guys that might help us," Beane said. "... If somebody wants to overwhelm us, we'd be tentative even from that standpoint, too."