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A's seeking immediate help at shortstop

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- While the rumor mill continued to churn on the second day of the Winter Meetings, with several clubs nearing or completing significant deals, A's general manager Billy Beane sported a relaxed look in his suite Tuesday, not appearing like a general manager ready to pull the trigger on a move.

There's a good chance he won't before Thursday, when the Winter Meetings conclude. That doesn't mean a shortstop couldn't be reeled in some time shortly after he leaves Nashville, though.

"We're maybe getting some clarity," Beane said. "There are a number of options and pros and cons with each one, and I don't necessarily expect it to be something that happens here."

The A's top options are all seemingly exposed already. Stephen Drew, who hit .250 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in his 39 games with Oakland, is in that mix, as is free-agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, whose agent reportedly met with the A's brass Tuesday.

Nakajima is a likeable option for the A's, who are sifting through a shallow shortstop market. The 30-year-old enjoyed much success this year, posting a line of .311/.382/.451 with the Seibu Lions in Japan. He also hit 13 home runs and, since 2007, has averaged 20.5 homers per 162 games, along with a .310 batting mark and .381 on-base percentage.

Nakajima already met with D-backs officials -- also shopping for infield help on the left side -- in Arizona in November, though a deal was reportedly never on the table. The D-backs, however, are believed to still be interested in him, while also widening their search.

For Beane, who has a long-standing policy of not discussing free agents, a shortstop that can have an immediate impact on the club is first and foremost. Awarding a shorter-term contract, as opposed to one promising more than two years, is the club's goal.

"We have a very short-term focus," Beane said, "so the guy we think can help us the most next year is going to be the most attractive to us."

The Marlins' Yunel Escobar fit that very mold but was shipped not too far to Tampa Bay late Tuesday night in a trade that netted Miami an infield prospect. The A's were still in talks for Escobar earlier in the day before he went off the board.

Miami, though looking for outfield help, was not seeking one of the five that will occupy Oakland's roster next year. No one is, since Beane has made it clear that's not an option. Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Seth Smith and offseason acquisition Chris Young are all expected to play key roles for the A's.

"We need all of these guys," Beane said. "We're a better team by keeping these guys. We've had inquiries, but we've been pretty direct of what I said when we acquired Chris, saying, 'We plan on holding these guys.' We think they're all good players."

In other news, the A's have added depth to their system this winter by way of a handful of Minor League contracts. Like Brandon Moss did, these players are hoping to turn these deals into potential Major League opportunities: right-handers Mike Ekstrom and Kyler Newby, left-handers Justin Thomas and Garrett Olson, catcher Luke Montz and infielders Scott Moore and Darwin Perez.

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
Read More: Oakland Athletics, Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, Hiroyuki Nakajima