DENVER -- The quest to beef up Colorado's pitching staff resulted in the Rockies obtaining right-hander Guillermo Moscoso and left-hander Josh Outman from the Athletics on Monday for outfielder Seth Smith.The Rockies' signing of free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer dictated that the team would seek to deal Smith. The Rockies talked with the Braves in an attempt to acquire second baseman Martin Prado but did not reach an agreement, and the Mariners also were mentioned in reports. However, the deal with the Athletics for Moscoso, 28, who set career highs in nearly every category last season, and Outman, 27, who has been in and out of the Majors since 2008, satisfied the initiative to build pitching depth and competition. "Both were in the rotation for Oakland, and Moscoso was the No. 2 starter before the end of the year," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "Both are gong to come in and compete for the starting rotation, and both have versatility and [Minor League] options. It should be a spirited competition in Spring Training." The trade came a day after Smith reached a one-year, $2.415 million agreement with the Rockies. The move puts the Rockies' Major League roster at the limit of 40. However, the buildup of pitching depth could make another deal possible before the season begins, O'Dowd said. He also said that the team is seeking a veteran starter on a Minor League contract. Last season, Moscoso went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA, 74 strikeouts and 38 walks, and held opponents to a .212 batting average in 23 games (21 starts). He also went 3-3 with a 3.88 ERA in nine appearances (eight starts) at Triple-A Sacramento. Originally signed by the Tigers as an undrafted free agent in 2002, he was traded to the Rangers in December 2008 for catcher Gerald Laird, and made 11 appearances for the Rangers in 2009 and 2010. He has a career 3.47 ERA. The Athletics obtained him for right-handed pitcher Ryan Kelly in January 2011. Outman appeared in 13 games -- nine of which were starts -- for the Athletics last season and went 3-5 with a 3.70 ERA. He struck out 35 hitters and walked 25. The left-hander spent the rest of the year at Sacramento, posting an 8-3 record with a 3.91 ERA in 17 starts. Originally a 10th-round pick by the Phillies out of Central Missouri State in 2005, he was traded to the Athletics for pitcher Joe Blanton in June 2005. "Moscoso is less risk, a strike-thrower and a good competitor," O'Dowd said. "He's got a good fastball and changeup, a little cutter and he's got some deception. Outman has a bigger arm. His walks are a little high, but he's got a big arm, he competes well and he's a left-hander. We'll give [manager] Jim [Tracy] and [pitching coach] Bob [Apodaca] some decisions to make, both starting rotation-wise and bullpen-wise." Moscoso said he was able to make big strides with the Athletics because he had a greater opportunity than in the past. Now, he has a new opportunity in Colorado. "I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I know they want me in the rotation, but it's something that we have to find out in Spring Training -- just go there and fight for my spot."
Outman's career was interrupted by an elbow surgery that required surgery in June 2009 and cost him the rest of that year and all of 2010. Outman is a fly-ball pitcher, but he has a chance for success.Although Coors has long been good to hitters, it is a big park, and the number of cheap home runs hit there has been limited in recent years because the Rockies are storing baseballs in a chamber that prevents them for hardening and shrinking in the Rocky Mountain climate. Plus, the Rockies have speedy outfielders -- specifically Carlos Gonzalez in left and Dexter Fowler in center. "I obviously spent some time with the A's and thought it was going to be kind of a breakout year for me, now that I've gotten fully over the surgery and everything, and an opportunity to get back into the rotation," Outman said. "But I think I'm going to get a really good opportunity with Colorado. Just another place where I know they want me." With veteran Jorge De La Rosa beginning the year on the disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, the Rockies can choose from a large group of young candidates. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will be given a chance to become the staff ace. Also battling for jobs in the rotation this spring will be starters Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Tyler Chatwood, Kevin Slowey, Juan Nicasio, Jason Hammel and Esmil Rogers. The Rockies selected Smith, 29, out of Ole Miss in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2004. He debuted in mid-September of 2007 and went 5-for-8 as a pinch-hitter during the Rockies' dramatic run to the playoffs. He then went 3-for-6 with a double and two RBIs during that postseason, during which the Rockies swept the Phillies in the National League Division Series and the D-backs in the NL Championship Series before being swept by the Red Sox in the World Series. In 2011, Smith, who plays both corner outfield positions, hit .284 with 15 home runs, 32 doubles, nine triples and 59 RBIs. In his career, Smith has hit.275 with 51 home runs, 78 doubles, 19 triples and 181 RBIs in 487 Major League games. "He's a great kid who did a lot for our franchise, especially those years when he came up and delivered some big hits off the bench for us," O'Dowd said. "It was very difficult to trade him, just like it was difficult to trade Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart. But with the moves we made we felt like his opportunities were going to be somewhat limited, so we feel this is best for him as well. With Charlie Blackmon, Tyler Colvin and Eric Young Jr., we feel this gives one or two of them an opportunity to play."
Smith patiently sat through the trade speculation until the deal finally occurred.
"I was able to talk to [Athletics general manager] Billy Beane earlier today, and he had some good things to say and some exciting things," Smith said. "We're definitely looking forward to the opportunity. I'd like to say that our time in Denver was fantastic. My wife and family, we love Denver, and it'll always have a special place for us, and I have nothing but great things to say about the city, the fans and the organization. We're definitely going to miss it."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Alden Gonzalez contributed reporting. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.