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Wednesday, July 25
Updated: July 26, 4:33 PM ET
Athletics add powerful Dye to lineup

Associated Press

Neifi Perez

Jermaine Dye

DENVER -- Showing they are serious about making a run for the playoffs, the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday acquired outfielder Jermaine Dye from Kansas City in a three-team, five-player trade.

The deal also sent shortstop Neifi Perez from Colorado to Kansas City.

This trade is a win-win-huh?-sort of deal. The Rockies win. They get two potential five-tool athletes. GM Dan O'Dowd said he was looking for the Rockies to get more athletic playing at Coors Field; with this trade, and the pick-up of Alex Ochoa -- who is a great athlete -- they are well on their way to doing just that.

The A's win, and this trade signals that they are going to go for it. Jermaine Dye is a great pick-up. Aside from being just an additional solid bat, he's a right-handed bat, which is exactly what the A's need, because they are almost too left-handed.

The Royals leave you scratching your head. This deal might mean they plan on trading again, moving Neifi Perez or Rey Sanchez, because they certainly don't need two shortstops. It's interesting to note that Perez's batting average (.237) and on-base percentage (.274) away from Coors Field are significantly lower than while he's at home (.347 and .368, respectively). One can't be exactly sure about the Royals' intentions in this deal.

The Rockies, looking to retool and build depth after a disappointing season that finds them 15 games under .500, acquired three prospects from the A's -- infielder Jose Ortiz, outfielder Mario Encarnacion and left-hander Todd Belitz.

Dye, 27, was hitting .272 with 13 homers and 47 RBI in 97 games with Kansas City. Last year, he set career highs in batting (.321) and home runs (33). The Royals obtained him from the Atlanta Braves in 1997.

Dye is in Oakland's starting lineup tonight against the Twins, batting fifth and playing right field. The A's cleared a roster spot for Dye by placing outfielder Billy McMillon on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder.

The slick-fielding Perez, 26, was hitting .298 in 87 games for the Rockies with seven homers and 47 RBI. The switch-hitter leaves Colorado as the club leader in career triples (49) and games played at shortstop (604). Perez won his first Gold Glove last season.

Technically, the Rockies traded Perez to Kansas City for Dye, then immediately traded Dye to Oakland.

"I think anyone would agree that this makes us a better team," A's general manager Billy Beane said.

Although the Seattle Mariners have put the AL West title out of reach, the A's are still making a run at the postseason.

Going into Wednesday night's game against Minnesota, the A's had a major league-best 16-5 record in July and moved within four games of the Twins for a wild card spot.

With the trade, Dye joins a lineup that includes his former Royals teammate, Johnny Damon, and AL MVP Jason Giambi.

"The deal, at least on paper, gives us a little boost going into the last two months," Beane said.

The trade is the 26th completed by Colorado general manager Dan O'Dowd in his 22 months as the Rockies general manager.

"We're trying to create a deep, 40-man roster," O'Dowd said. "We have a lot of holes to fill. It's going to take time. We've got to be consistent with that approach, and we've got to make difficult trades to do that. It's a trade we agonized over. Neifi was a great player here and still very young.

"I realize this is not a very popular trade and I'm not a very popular guy right now, but ultimately we have to do what we think is right for this organization."

Royals general manager Allard Baird said the deal probably would not have happened if the Royals had been able to sign shortstop Rey Sanchez, who is having as fine a year defensively as any shortstop in the team's history and hitting about .300. But he has refused to sign a contract extension past this season, and Baird said the Royals did not want to pass on Perez.

"The shortstop position is a premium position, so obviously we are excited about acquiring a young, accomplished player like Neifi Perez," Baird said. "The opportunities to get such a talented player at this position are few and far between."

Perez was in the starting lineup for the Royals on Wednesday night in Seattle, batting leadoff and playing second base. Sanchez started at shortstop.

But Baird said Perez will be the Royals' regular shortstop after the July 31 trading deadline.

"Neifi Perez is our shortstop for 2002," Baird said. "If Rey is still here, he will play second base and some shortstop. He would still be utilized."

Sanchez could be traded by Tuesday, but Baird said there is "no interest" in him now. "I don't know if that will change. We're not going to move him for the sake of moving him. But if there is a deal of substance, yes, we could deal him."

Perez's contract became an issue with the Rockies. He is making $3.55 million this season and has two more years of arbitration eligibility before he can become a free agent. The two sides have been unable to work out a long-term deal. The Rockies offered him a $17 million, four-year deal last winter, but Perez wants something in the range of $28 million.

"We're very excited about the players we got back," O'Dowd said. "Although they're young and we'll have to be patient with them, I think it's a step in the right direction. And we've got to do some more things to create a club that not only is good at the major-league level but also has depth at the minor-league level. And quite honestly, there are no shortcuts to do that."

Ortiz, 24, was selected MVP in the Pacific Coast League last season after batting .351 with 24 homers and 108 RBI. He opened the season as the A's starting second baseman, but went on the disabled list with a calf injury after 11 games and lost his job to Frank Menechino. Ortiz has spent most of his season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he was hitting .273 and seven homers and 39 RBI in 65 games.

Encarnacion, 23, was hitting .285 with 12 homers and 33 RBI in 51 games for Sacramento.

Belitz, 25, appeared in five games for the A's last season and has pitched all of 2001 in Sacramento, where he has gone 4-2 with a 5.13 ERA in 38 appearances.

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