The A's started off the winter meetings by making a minor trade, acquiring Chad Gaudin from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for a player to be named later.
This is the fun part about watching Billy Beane: seeing how he finds ways to fill out the roster at Sacramento with quality players. In this case, he saw Toronto needing to get rid of somebody on their roster, and Beane swooped in.
Gaudin had been dropped from the Blue Jays' 40-man roster when they signed B.J. Ryan. The Jays had 10 days to trade him, or they could lose him as a free agent. I wouldn't worry about the PTBNL being a top prospect. I'd guess it's someone the A's left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, like former first-round pick Brad Sullivan, who has struggled with injuries and velocity loss since being drafted.
Gaudin spent most of 2005 as a 22-year-old starting pitcher in AAA. His 6.76 K/9 rate was not too impressive, considering he had posted a rate of 9.82 K/9 at AAA Durham the year before. But all his other stats moved in the right direction. He cut down his walks from 3.21 to 2.10 per nine innings, his WHIP from 1.36 to 1.16, and his ERA from 4.72 down to 3.35.
Acquiring Gaudin fills the A's 40-man roster. So if they want to acquire another major-league player, they'll have to find someone on their current roster to drop.
Update: According to this article, the A's are designating John Baker for assignment. I'm not sure why, at this point. The 40-man roster on the A's web site only has 39 players. Is it missing someone? Or are the A's leaving room for someone else: a trade, or a Rule 5 pick?
Update: I see it now. Shane Komine is missing from the 40-man roster on the A's web site.