ANAHEIM – Second baseman Ray Durham, the subject of recent trade rumors, was finally dealt by the Chicago White Sox on Thursday to the Oakland Athletics for Triple-A pitcher Jon Adkins.
The trade, completed after the White Sox agreed to send cash to pay part of Durham’s salary, was announced following Oakland’s 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Angels.
Durham, an All-Star in 1998 and 2000, will join the Athletics in Texas for Friday night’s game. The A’s are in the middle of the AL West and wild card races while Chicago is way behind in the AL Central.
“He’s a talent, this kid,” Oakland manager Art Howe said. “It’s nice to inject that kind of bat into our lineup. He’s a switch-hitter with speed, he’s got a lot of tools.”
Durham, 30, was hitting .299 with nine homers and 48 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases and scored 71 runs.
Atlanta, Los Angeles and Boston were also said to have been interested in Durham, who’s in the final season of a four-year contract extension. Baseball’s deadline for making trades without waivers is July 31.
“One of the things about this deal was that we creatively worked with the White Sox,” Athletics general manager Billy Beane said. “We had little to no payroll flexibility. We’re very limited to what we can do at this time.”
Adkins, who turns 25 on Aug. 30, was 7-6 with a 6.03 ERA at Triple-A Sacramento. The right-hander was a ninth-round draft choice in 1998.
“The decision to trade Ray was not an easy one. Ray has been part of our family since 1990,” White Sox general manager Ken Williams said. “In Adkins, we are getting a young pitcher with a live, quick, power arm.”
The A’s are 59-43 and Howe said they will benefit from Durham’s versatility.
“He (Beane) had told me that he was working on trying to get him here. He’s going to play some second, he’s going to DH and get some playing time. We may even look at him in the outfield and see if he can play some outfield,” Howe said.
“He’s hit from one, two, three, he’s done well in any one of those spots. So we’ll take a look and see what the best fit is for us right now. Just the bat is what I like. He’s an offensive impact player,” he said.
Oakland has mostly used Mark Ellis, Frank Menechino and Randy Velarde at second base this season. Ellis has started as the Athletics’ leadoff hitter in 38 games — Jeremy Giambi did it 39 times before being traded to Philadelphia.
Mainly as a leadoff man, Durham has scored more than 100 runs in each of the past five years. He hit a career-high 22 homers last season, and is the only White Sox second baseman with lifetime totals of more than 100 home runs and 100 steals.
“He gets on base close to a .390 clip, that’s first and foremost what we’re trying to achieve,” Beane said. “He steals bases, which we haven’t done much of this year. And he’s a guy with surprising pop sometimes.”
“Given our position in the standings, we hope it’ll even further motivate Ray,” he said.
Durham has reached the postseason only once, in 2000 when the White Sox were swept by Seattle in the first round of the AL playoffs.
Durham began his major league career in 1995 with the White Sox. He is a .278 lifetime hitter with 106 homers, 484 RBIs and 219 steals.
“It’s a surprising trade. I didn’t know anything about it until a few minutes ago,” A’s pitcher Cory Lidle said. “But Billy has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing, so it should help us out.”
“We haven’t been scoring a whole lot lately, so maybe that will boost our guys a little bit. That’s the way Billy is. He looks forward to the last week before the trade deadline, so I’m sure he’s still thinking about what else he can do.”
The White Sox were off Thursday. They are a disappointing 47-56 and 14 games behind division-leading Minnesota.