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Conor Jackson traded to Oakland

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The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today they have traded outfielder Conor Jackson to the Oakland Athletics for minor league right-handed pitcher Sam Demel, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President & General Manager Josh Byrnes. "Sam Demel gives us another quality arm in our attempt to improve the bullpen," Byrnes said. "Conor Jackson has been a class act during his time in the organization. We wish him well in Oakland."

Demel, 24, has posted a 9-8 record with a 2.79 ERA and 42 saves in 151 relief appearances during four minor league seasons in the Athletics' organization after being the club's third-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Christian University. He has recorded 200 strikeouts and only 90 walks in 180.2 innings throughout his professional baseball career, which translates to 9.96 strikeouts per 9.0 innings. He ranked third in the Athletics' farm system with 14 saves in 2009 and second with 18 saves in 2008. Demel is 2-0 with 6 saves and a 1.26 ERA in 22 games for Triple-A Sacramento this season. The right-hander has fanned 28 batters in 28.2 innings and held opponents to a .212 average this year for the RiverCats.

Just got an email from Minor League Ball's John Sickels, who says of Demel: "He's improved his command this year while maintaining a good K/IP ratio and still picking up grounders. I can see him as a strong C+ or a B- prospect, with a good chance to be a successful reliever and an outside chance to close eventually." It certainly seems like an acquisition destined to strengthen the bullpen immediately: I'm not sure who will be going down to Reno as a result, but Cesar Valdez is perhaps the first candidate to come to mind.

We discussed Conor Jackson's struggles last week, and even as recently as yesterday, said "Whenever mrssoco falls for a Diamondbacks' left-fielder, it appears to be a doomed relationship - see Eric Byrnes, Trent Oeltjen and now, it seems, Conor Jackson." Those words now appear eerily prophetic. It also marks the end of the "Three Amigos" as Jackson, Carlos Quentin and Jamie D'Antona were labeled when they were picked early by Arizona in the 2003 draft. Quentin is now with the White Sox (though is barely hitting .200 this year), and D'Antona is playing in Japan for the appropriately-named Yakult Swallows.

I believe Demel wasn’t even in the top 30 prospects for the A’s according to Baseball America, but that says more about the A's depth in their farm system than anything else. There was a fair amount of discussion of late, about whether Demel deserved a call-up to the A's, which does tend to support the idea that he'll be plugged directly into the (inferior) Diamondbacks' pen. Nick Piecoro says, "Demel doesn’t seem like a big return, but considering that Jackson has struggled badly in two seasons, the Diamondbacks must have been weighing the likelihood of cutting him loose after the season. Next year will be Jackson’s third year of arbitration eligibility and he will be in line to make perhaps $4 million or more in salary, meaning non-tendering him was a strong possibility."

The move does run contrary to one of the general philosophies, that you shouldn't trade a position player for a reliever, because the former are just more valuable. However, the bullpen has been hemorrhaging runs and wins like a villain in Hard Revenge Milly [link NSFW, due to arterialness], and something certainly needed to be done. This would count as Something, and one senses this is the beginning, rather than the end of the changes mentioned by upper management. The trade does come as a bit of a surprise - when Wailord was reviewing the players most likely to go recently, Jackson wasn't even mentioned.

The main beneficiary is likely Gerardo Parra, who will become the full-time left-fielder - possibly even getting some at-bats against left-handed pitching. Which is something of a scary thought, given his career line against them is .216/.245/.216. One imagine Cole Gillespie will likely be recalled from Reno to act as the fourth outfielder, and may get the start against southpaws. Whether either turns out to be the more permanent solution at the position, beyond the end of the season, remains to be seen. Certainly, Conor's plate discipline will be missed: he was the only player on the team with close to as many K's as walks (18:20). Now, the next best is Chris Snyder (49:30).

[Update: It looks like the team is not pulling up another outfielder; Tony Abreu is returning from the DL today, but there does not appear to have been a corresponding move. We may be going with Ryan Roberts as the fourth outfielder instead. It also turns out that Gillespie is not well at the present time.]

According to a Buster Olney tweet we are also kicking in a little bit of cash to the A's: "The $ relief that the A's are getting in the Conor Jackson deal is close to $400,000." Nick Piecoro confirms this, saying it's $375K. The same piece says Jackson wasn;t surprised by the news: "I knew it was going to happen sometime this year, just from a business standpoint. I figured through the arbitration process and the direction the team was going – they kept saying they wanted to make changes -- I figured it was going to happen before the deadline. It kind of came as a surprise to me that it came this quick." Him and Wailord both...

Jackson had been with the team for almost five years - he debuted for the Diamondbacks on July 28, 2005. Only Snyder - who first appeared in August 2004 - had been with Arizona for longer. Stephen Drew now moves up to become the second-longest resident Diamondback, behind Snyder. CoJack departs Arizona, 8th on the franchise all-time list for batting average and OPS, third in OBP and tenth for career plate-appearances.