Brown, 25, wondered if he would be one of the prospects going to Washington. He had been in Oakland's system for four years without being called up. It didn't help that injuries set him back and the team was loaded with outfield prospects.
Brown would eventually learn that he was indeed part of the Willingham trade, which also sent reliever Henry Rodriguez to Washington. While he is glad for the change of scenery, Brown doesn't blame Oakland for not yet getting to the big show.
"I was pretty excited," Brown said Saturday afternoon. "The last year I was with the A's, a lot of my buddies realized they were stocked in Double-A and Triple-A, so it was hard for guys who deserved to get [promoted], not getting moved.
"So last year during the Trade Deadline, some guys were kind of hoping that maybe their names would be called. Realistically, I think we all felt it wasn't going to happen. We were just going to do our time and hope to get to the big leagues eventually.
"When I received that news that I was traded, I was very excited," added Brown. "I was ready for a new change at that point. But I have no hard feelings toward the A's. They are a great organization. I can't blame them for why I didn't make it to the big leagues. I had my ups and downs. But I think over here, there is a lot better opportunity for me."
The left-handed-hitting Brown is considered to be a year away from the Majors. He is expected to start the season with Triple-A Syracuse.
He hit a combined .283 with 15 home runs, 69 RBIs and 22 stolen bases in 131 games last season with Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. After a slow start with Sacramento, Brown was a Texas League All-Star and Topps Double-A All-Star in 90 games with Midland, hitting .320 with 10 homers, 49 RBIs, 19 stolen bases and a .415 on-base percentage.
Brown can bat anywhere from the two hole to the seventh spot in the order. If he gets to play in the Major Leagues, he could find himself in left or center field.
Selected by Oakland in the compensation round (59th overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, Brown has hit .272 with 83 doubles, 21 triples, 65 home runs, 243 RBIs and 48 stolen bases in 390 games over four Minor League seasons.
"He is a big tools package. He is an athletic guy that could run, hit for power and plays good defense," general manager Mike Rizzo said not too long ago. "He is a guy that has the ability to play center field, and also have the power to play both [corner-outfield spots]."
Brown must stay healthy in order to be successful. He has had shoulder and knee problems over the years. In fact, Brown had minor knee surgery this past offseason, but said he is ready to play exhibition baseball. He arrived in camp early this week and has been working out with the position players ever since.
Brown said he is making sure he stays healthy by listening to Washington's trainers. He said he learned from past mistakes.
"If I can stay healthy, hold up and play up to my abilities, I have a good opportunity [to get to the big leagues]," Brown said. "Both my shoulders and knees have been banged up throughout the years. Now, I go to the trainer's room and do the treatment that I need to do -- not do it every fourth day.
"I go in there and get treatment every day. It's not like I need it yet, but it's more precautionary so an injury doesn't flare up. When [I finish] working out, I get a strength [workout] in. A couple of years ago, you think it doesn't matter, and then an injury pops up. You are like 'Geez, what could I have done to prevent it?' ... I think it helps to take care of my body a little better."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.