A's general manager Billy Beane admitted to having "a lot of pause" in going through with Thursday's trade of slugger Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for lefty ace Jon Lester and familiar face Jonny Gomes.
"No one's excited about losing a guy like Yoenis," Beane said.
His players relayed similar sentiments shortly after hearing of the latest roster shakeup, at the same time offering good faith in the front office, which also traded lefty Tommy Milone to the Twins on Thursday to bring back outfielder Sam Fuld.
"I thought Cespy had no shot of being traded," closer Sean Doolittle said by phone on the club's off-day. "Once that happened, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, they're willing to do literally anything it takes to improve this team, and nobody's safe.' It can be difficult to swallow, but watching the way our front office has pulled out all the stops to make this team as good as it can possibly be, that is really fun to watch.
"It's exciting knowing that we're going to be moving forward with Gomes back and Lester in the rotation. On the other hand, it's going to be weird moving forward without Cespedes, because he's such a fan favorite and such a big part of the success that we've had over the last two and a half years. That part, I think, might take a little longer to process than the new guys coming in. It's still really exciting."
Lester will make his first start in an A's uniform Saturday against the Royals at the Coliseum. In a rather cruel and perhaps comical twist of fate, that's the same day the team was set to pass out 10,000 Cespedes "La Potencia" T-shirts.
That plan remains unchanged.
"Now it's a collector's item, so they're more valuable," quipped Beane. "I'm our marketing department's worst nightmare."
There was thought that Beane might go out and get himself a second baseman amid mediocre offense production from the position. Instead, he parted with his top power hitter to obtain more starting pitching, already a strength.
That's part of why this one took a while to digest.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were going to give up Yoenis like that but, you know, to get a big piece you've got to give up a pretty big piece," outfielder Josh Reddick told MLB Network Radio. "And we gave up one of the biggest pieces in our lineup."
"Cespedes has been one of the cornerstones of the franchise the last three years," said Jed Lowrie by phone. "He's a big bat that's going to be missed, but they've always hung their hat on pitching. I think this is another example of that.
"Jon is a bona fide ace who has done it on the biggest stage. That experience, it's an intangible, having that knowledge that you've done it before. He's a guy that will bolster an already good pitching staff. There are quality arms all the way through. You look at the top four, some pretty good stuff. It's a deep rotation."
Lowrie played with Lester in Boston, as did Reddick, who vouched for the veteran.
"He's going to go out there and pretty much give you about seven or eight innings and 10-plus strikeouts every night, so that's what we look forward to," he said. "And he goes out there and works his tail off. And we've all seen what he can do out there and it's just going to be even more impressive what he can do without that Monster behind him in left field. He's going to give up some balls that he's probably going to be surprised aren't home runs, that are going to be caught even before they get to the warning track here in Oakland."
"One thing this organization has always prided itself on and been known for is its pitching," Doolittle said. "Maybe as surprising as it was to hear that a cornerstone of this offense, a middle-of-the-lineup bat, an All-Star outfielder got traded, but they're going all in with what their bread and butter is, their pitching.
"It might make us a different team, but I do think we got better. Any time you have an opportunity to get a Jon Lester in your rotation to go along with the guys we have, it definitely made our pitching better, and I think this team has enough depth and versatility to overcome losing a guy with Cespedes in exchange for a guy like Lester."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.