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A's leave Winter Meetings with more work to do

MLB.com @JaneMLB

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The A's departed the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning with an unchanged roster, their search for a center fielder still ongoing.

Oakland's front-office members have been steadfast in their quest for outfield help, doing their due diligence on a bevy of potential fits in both the trade and free-agent market. The cozy confines of the Winter Meetings allowed them to make further traction on this front.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The A's departed the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning with an unchanged roster, their search for a center fielder still ongoing.

Oakland's front-office members have been steadfast in their quest for outfield help, doing their due diligence on a bevy of potential fits in both the trade and free-agent market. The cozy confines of the Winter Meetings allowed them to make further traction on this front.

"My guess is there's plenty of things we've talked about this week that have legs, and those conversations will continue over the next few weeks," A's general manager David Forst said Thursday morning. "We have two months until pitchers and catchers report, four months until the season. We're not the only ones leaving here without actually consummating something."

This year's Winter Meetings provided plenty of entertainment in the form of jaw-dropping deals and signings, many of which will have an impact on the center-field market, with Ian Desmond and Carlos Gomez off the free-agent board and Adam Eaton transferred from the White Sox to the Nationals.

Desmond, who moved out of the American League West to join the Rockies, will allow Colorado to get creative with its roster. The Rockies, who have a crowded outfield, could potentially emerge as a sensible trade partner for the A's, who also could swing a deal with the Royals for speedy outfield man Jarrod Dyson.

"It's always a two-way street, whether it's with a free agent or another team," Forst said. "It's a function of the other side's pace as well as ours."

Deals done
None.

Goals accomplished
The A's struck up conversations that should serve them well in the final weeks leading up to Spring Training, with the groundwork laid for later action.

Unfinished business
A center fielder remains at the top of the A's Christmas wish list, with secondary needs being a second baseman and a veteran starter -- mostly for insurance purposes.

Rule 5 Draft
The A's couldn't participate in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, with both their big league and Triple-A rosters already full, but they did lose right-hander Dylan Covey to the White Sox in the Major League phase. A fourth-round Draft pick of Oakland in 2013, Covey was sidelined for much of 2016 with an oblique injury but went on to pitch well in the Arizona Fall League. The 25-year-old finished his tenure in the A's organization with a 4.83 ERA across 72 games, all but one of them starts.

"He was certainly as deserving as anyone of being protected," Forst said. "We just ran out of spots. Good for him that he's getting this opportunity."

Covey, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the A's No. 20 prospect, must remain on Chicago's 25-man roster all season or be offered back to Oakland for half of the $100,000 Draft cost.

GM's bottom line
"We've been very up front over the last several weeks that center field is something we need," Forst said. "Otherwise, we'll continue to look and see where we can make additions."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oakland Athletics