OAKLAND -- The A's began shedding parts on Sunday, sending veteran relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to the first-place Nationals in a deal that surely won't be their last ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Oakland received right-hander Blake Treinen and Minor Leaguers Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo from Washington, using a pair of expendable arms to further bolster their farm system as they hastily work to compile young players that can help form the core of a future contender.
"Losing those two guys will be tough," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "and I know the guys will feel it a little, too. But we're on a bit of a different course right now, and we really like the guys we're bringing back. Not only did we get somebody for now, we got some guys for the future as well."
• Doolittle gives heartfelt thanks to A's after trade
The wheeling and dealing seemingly has only just begun, with Oakland expected to part ways with a handful of several other coveted players in the coming weeks amid a transition into rebuilding mode, notably ace Sonny Gray. Pending free agents Yonder Alonso and Jed Lowrie can also be had in a deal.
The A's will take calls on all of them, having put in motion a frenzied youth movement in conjunction with a promise to announce a new stadium site by the end of the year. Already, third-base prospect Matt Chapman has settled into an everyday role, with the club's top position prospect, infielder Franklin Barreto, expected to do the same once Lowrie departs.
"We have to take a look at where we are," A's vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane said. "We're in last place. And the direction we are heading in and we're going to continue to head in is we're going to try to get younger, and we need to be disciplined with it, particularly as it aligns with what we're trying to do within the community as it relates to a new stadium. There's only one way to open a stadium successfully. That's with a good young team, so this is part of that process."
Though young, excitable players lessen the sting of significant losses, it's still felt nonetheless. The left-handed Doolittle, drafted by the A's as a first baseman in 2007, spent 10 years in the organization, flourishing as a converted reliever and forging a unique bond with the fans and community. He was the lone remaining member of all three A's playoff clubs in 2012-14.
In departing for Washington, Doolittle is closer to his roots -- he spent much of his childhood in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Virginia -- and is tasked with the challenge of teaming with Madson to better a beleaguered Nationals bullpen. Doolittle's team-friendly contract, which guarantees him $4.35 million in 2018, includes two club options for 2019 and '20. Madson has one year left on a three-year, $22 million deal.
"It's really surreal right now," Doolittle said. "It's still kind of sinking in. I know the way that things work here, I understand the business aspect. There's no hard feelings. I spent 10 years of my life in this organization, so it feels weird to be leaving it.
"That's not to say I'm not super excited to be headed where I'm headed. It's close to where I grew up, it's close to where I went to college, and there are some familiar faces over there. Obviously, they're in a really good position right now. I'm excited to go play some meaningful baseball here down the stretch."
Treinen, originally drafted by the A's in 2011 and dealt to Washington two years later, had three saves and a 5.73 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the Nationals. Melvin envisions a setup role for the right-hander, with plans to also promote Liam Hendriks and Daniel Coulombe to more prominent roles after losing Doolittle and Madson.
Neuse, an infielder hitting .291 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs with Class A Advanced Hagerstown, was ranked by MLB Pipeline as Washington's No. 6 prospect, while the left-handed Luzaro sat in the No. 10 spot. Luzaro was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in three starts in the Gulf Coast Rookie League in his professional debut.