Potential 2B Upgrades (Not Previously Discussed) via Trade

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I'm throwing out this post in order to expand the discussion on viable trade options to potentially upgrade our middle infield. I'll keep personal thoughts and analysis relatively short because I'm in the midst of studying for the California BAR. However, I wanted to briefly throw out a couple of names out there that I haven't seen people mention now because if I waited until after the exam, the trade deadline would have passed, rendering the discussion moot.

In order to provide a little context, this post is operating under two assumptions. First, the A's front office cannot magically find a great short-term upgrade at SS via trade that would allow Lowrie to slide over to 2B given how thin the position is in general across the league. Second, Chase Utley (our probable dream acquisition for the season) is either made unavailable or becomes too costly to acquire given how many teams would look to potentially acquire him. (note: obviously, if you feel otherwise and/or have uncovered some sound options, feel free to discuss- main point of this post is to foster discussion, and to see what you all have to say about what the plausible menu of trade options would look like).

Alright, with that said, here are three names that--at least in my opinion--would represent classic under-the-radar BB acquisitions to improve positional weaknesses:

1) Brian Dozier 2B Minnesota Twins

Reasons Why He Would Help:

  • He's having pretty strong season overall, accumulating 1.5 WAR (fangraphs) overall.
  • He's a right-handed bat, a .302/.392/.524 slash line, and has walked more than he's struck out (12% BB, 10%K) against LH pitchers in 2013 (granted SSS of 75 PA's). All this tends to suggest the possibility that Dozier would be an ideal candidate to platoon with Sogard. This is especially enticing because, as concerns have previously been expressed on AN, our batting lineup has started to look noticeably weaker against quality LH pitchers.
  • Defensive competence and potential versatility: As to his defense at 2nd, defensive metrics seem to suggest that he is on par with Sogard which, if such is the case, is certainly more than acceptable. Additionally, Dozier was groomed as a shortstop in the minors which provides the added benefit of, at least, providing some protection against a Lowrie injury (knock on wood) or, if he proves to be the superior defensive player at SS, possibly play Lowrie at 2B more frequently. I've done only marginal digging on his defensive reports in the minors, but some seemed to suggest that there was hope he'd stick at short--But, a presumption he'd eventually move off the position.
  • Lastly, given all the information I've read on him, he seems to be a player who is just starting to realize his potential and may provide more production than we expected. I know that's a vague statement, but I guess the best way to describe this "feeling" w/out going into deep analysis is that it's not crazy to look at his track-record and say this could be a potential Donaldson/Carpenter-like guy: i.e. a 26+ year old offensive minded infielder, that recently switched positions, was always considered a decently talented (and known about) prospect, but never a guy who received top prospect hype despite putting up good minor league numbers. Anyways, take those subjective thoughts for what you will.

Reasons MIN would trade him:

  • Most obviously, they are one of the few teams that are clear sellers at the trade deadline and they're projected window to compete is probably 2015 based on their farm system.
  • They have an unusually strong bevy of high-upside 2B/3B prospect options in the minors, and Trevor Plouffe who could slide in to 2B short-term once Miguel Sano comes up. So it questionable that Dozier is heavily considered to be in MIN's long-term plans.

2) Luis Valbuena 3B (currently) Chicago Cubs

Reasons Why He Would Help:

  • Even though he is currently playing 3B for the Cubs, he's a natural 2B given his minor league track record. Moreover, I don't think the move to 3B was b/c of any perceived inability to handle 2B well, defensively; rather, it was merely by necessity given the Cubs options. Additionally, defensive metrics suggest that he's played at a high level defensively at 3B, and I have know reason to suspect he wouldn't be at least above-average defensively at 2B given that range is a strong suit.
  • Overall, he's accumulate 2.0 WAR on the season. Accordingly, in the event he demonstrated similar defensive proficiency at 2B, he'd be valued even higher by WAR given the presumption that his offensive numbers would compare better against 2B'men than 3B'men, historically.
  • The prospects of this trade are hurt by the fact that (a) he's a LH bat, so not a platoon option, and (b) he has no SS track record meaning no added benefit of Lowrie insurance. However, I think the numbers are strong enough to suggest that he could be such a distinct upgrade over Sogard against RH pitching (i.e. the majority of pitchers we will face), that he's still very much worth mentioning.

Reasons why CHI would Trade Him:

  • Obvious, seller.
  • Even though he could have long-term value, he's right on that fringe where an aggressive GM like Epstein wouldn't have a problem pulling the trigger on a good deal--especially with Baez, Bryant, Alcantara coming up in the future.

3) Danny Espinosa 2B Nationals (currently in AAA)

  • You guys know him, so I'll spare you regarding laying out his track record.
  • However, I will say a couple of things that may not be instantly obvious: (a) he's ALWAYS had a strong platoon split, hitting LH pitchers well, while being average-mediocre against RH pitchers--so, in the event of a trade, even if he wasn't to regain form through the change of scenery, chances are likely he'd still represent a valuable platoon option to Sogard; (b) He's a Boras client, and apparently Boras has been trying to push for a clear conversation on Espinosa's future with the Nats in the wake of Rendon taking a stronghold over 2B. So, if Espinosa was viewed as strong option, this seems like an opportune time to acquire him at a reasonable cost.
  • Last thing I'll say, I've obviously avoided throwing out potential packages of players we might have to give up. I've refrained from doing so mainly to avoid that being what everybody focuses on instead of the intended goal of fostering discussion on whether the aforementioned players are viable trade options (but, definitely throw out potential packages, if any of you think you have a good beat on what it would take to get acquire this players-- I'd love to hear it). However, one potential swap I'll just throw out for discussion purposes would be to trade Milone for Espinosa. The logic on that being that, Gray could step in right away (and Anderson later) and Milone, while having proven to be a quality ML starter overall, does not possess the upside of our other starters; and, as for WAS, they're obviously familiar with Milone and may be enticed to get him back + he'd fill a strong need in shoring up the back-end of the Nats rotation down the stretch. In the event anybody feels he's too much to give up for Espinosa, ask yourself: would you have done this swap prior the season and the answer should be a resounding yes.

Anyways, all I've been able to dig up for now. Hope to hear people's thoughts on these particular players or otherwise. And, most importantly, GO A'S!

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