OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Needing to fill a void left by the departing Jason Isringhausen, the Oakland Athletics Friday acquired closer Billy Koch from the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of minor leaguers.
Koch, a hard-throwing righthander, has 100 career saves and is only 26. He was the fourth-overall pick out of Clemson in the 1996 draft.
Oakland gave up third baseman Eric Hinske and righthander Justin Miller to acquire Koch. Hinske was considered one of the Athletics' top prospects, but Eric Chavez holds down third base with the big league club.
Hinske, 24, was acquired from the Chicago Cubs in March in a deal for infielder Miguel Cairo. He hit .282 with 25 home runs and 79 RBI in 121 games at Class AAA Sacramento last season.
Miller, a 24-year-old native of Torrance, Calif., went 7-10 with a 4.75 ERA in Sacramento's rotation in 2001. Two years ago, he was involved in a four-team trade, going from Colorado to Oakland.
The A's were willing to part with the two in order to acquire a need, which Koch became with Isringhausen's decision to defect. Oakland doesn't lose much, if anything. While Isringhausen had 67 saves between 2000-01, Koch had 69.
Koch did struggle last season, going 2-5 with a 4.80 ERA in 69 games. It was by far his highest ERA since he made it to the majors in 1999. He had a 3.39 ERA as a rookie and a 2.63 ERA in 2000.
Toronto dumped Koch before his contract year, meaning Oakland will have to deal with a familiar problem -- re-signing a player or losing him.