ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers traded outfielder Craig Gentry and right-handed pitcher Josh Lindblom to the division rival Oakland A’s in a deal that netted them promising outfielder Michael Choice, Oakland's first-round pick in the 2010 MLB draft.
Choice attended Mansfield High School in Arlington and played his college ball at UT-Arlington. The Rangers also received minor league infielder Chris Bostick in the deal.
“I feel great about it,” Choice said. “Growing up here and have been to a ton of Rangers games and to be here and to be able to play in front of this home crowd, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Choice not only hit a school record by hitting 34 home runs during his three years, but he was also the first player to be drafted in the first round from UT-Arlington. He also tied as the highest selection in Southland Conference history, matching Ben Sheets of Louisiana-Monroe who was selected tenth overall in 1999.
“The reaction was definitely a surprise,” Choice said. “It was a great feeling. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed about - of playing at home - and for it to actually become reality, it’s pretty cool. Everybody is really excited. My phone has been ringing off the hook right now just from friends and family and people I went to college and high school with.”
“We put a priority on run production this winter,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We think Michael is a guy who fits that profile. He can play all three outfield spots and has hit everywhere he’s been.”
Choice hit .506 in high school and, .392 in college. In his 19 games with the A’s in a limited role late last season, Choice hit .278, and made his major league debut against the Rangers.
“I learned a lot,” Choice said. “It was one of the few chances that I’ve gotten in my professional career where you can actually sit back and put pen on paper and take notes and view the game that way. I just had a little bit of playing time when I was up in September.
“I was able to view it with my own eyes and then go out there and play at the same time, versus where most of pro ball where it’s thrown at you and you’re out there and you kind of learn by failure,” Choice said.
Choice played in 132 games at Sacramento last year and hit .302 with 14 home runs in 510 at bats.
“There is definitely an opportunity for him to carve out a spot with the club and start making a contribution,” Daniels said.
The general manager said Rangers' outfielders Leonys Martin and Alex Rios are two guys viewed as everyday guys.
“Michael goes into a group of guys that we have a lot of trust and believe in,” Daniels said. “He’s competing for a spot and competing for at bats and trying to help the club win.”
The deal was announced a day after Oakland acquired AL saves leader Jim Johnson from Baltimore.
While the two-time defending AL West champion A's have their starting outfield returning in center fielder Coco Crisp, left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, and right fielder Josh Reddick, Gentry provides an option off the bench and creates depth. The returnees have dealt with injuries in recent seasons.
Gentry batted .280 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 106 games for the Rangers this year; Lindblom went 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA in five starts and three relief appearances.