The A's bulked up their outfield Wednesday at the winter meetings by trading veteran left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins to Washington for the Nationals' 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, Billy Burns.

Burns hit .315 with no homers and 37 RBIs in 121 games at Class-A and Double-A. His game is getting on base and turning on the speed; he walked 72 times and stole 74 bases, an on-base percentage of .425.

He's a switch-hitter who has made a rapid rise in the minor league ranks after being Washington's 32nd-round pick out of Mercer University in 2011.

Blevins said he didn't see the trade coming.

``Every year there are rumors; that's part of the game,'' he said. ``But this did catch me by surprise. Still, I'm excited to be going to a new team, and one that's put together a pretty good roster.''

Blevins, who was the longest tenured A's player at seven seasons, was 5-0 in a career-high 67 games in 2013. He is 13-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 281 career appearances, all with Oakland. He's tied for the sixth-most games ever thrown by an A's pitcher.

A's manager Bob Melvin said that this move, while tough because Blevins was ``one of those guys who is important personally and professionally,'' opens up space for two recently acquired left-handers, Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz.

``These are two left-handers we think a lot of,'' he said. ``Until you get your hands on and see them up close you don't have first-hand knowledge, but they are guys with plus-stuff, and our front office staff is very happy with these guys.''

Burns figures to start the season in the minor leagues and Abad or Pomeranz could be there, too. One of the things the A's have been able to do in the last 10 days is restock a minor league system that saw second baseman Jemile Weeks and outfielder Michael Choice dealt away.

``This helps to strengthen out farm system,'' Melvin said of the Blevins-for-Burns deal. ``I don't know much about him other than he's very fast. We're trying to create an upside now.''