clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oakland A's lineup begins to take shape with Yonder Alonso acquisition

The phrase "over yonder" now specifically refers to a baseball hit to right field.
The phrase "over yonder" now specifically refers to a baseball hit to right field.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday was a busy day around MLB, and the Oakland A's were no exception. Teams had to decide by midnight whether they wanted to commit to keeping their arbitration-eligible players under contract, and as usual that deadline resulted in all sorts of last-minute trades and signings. The A's got in on the action, making a deal with the Padres that centered around bringing first baseman Yonder Alonso to Oakland.

First, a quick roundup of yesterday (Links: TradeArby 1Arby 2):

Arrivals: 1B Yonder Alonso, LHP Marc Rzepczynski
Re-signed: LHP Felix Doubront, 2B Eric Sogard, OF Sam Fuld
Tendered contracts*: RHP Evan Scribner, RHP Jarrod Parker, RHP Fernando Rodriguez

Departures: LHP Drew Pomeranz, LHP Jose Torres
Free agents: 1B Ike Davis, OF Craig Gentry

* Also Reddick, Lawrie, Valencia, and Alonso, but those were never in question

Of all the moves, the addition of Alonso does the most to clarify the roster. As things stand, we can safely pencil Reddick and Burns into RF and CF. Vogt and Phegley have the catching situation locked down. Some combination of Brett, Jed, Semien, and Valencia will handle 2B, SS, and 3B, with a departure more likely than a new arrival. Butler is likely the DH until/unless he is moved. That leaves 1B and LF, which is convenient because Mark Canha can cover either one. The A's needed a left-handed bat at one of those spots, and they got just that.

Alonso has been an above-average hitter for his career (108 OPS+ career, 111 last year), but his skill is contact-oriented and he doesn't have a lot of power (career .119 isolated slugging, career-high 9 HR). He has plate discipline, but it manifests by limiting strikeouts rather than collecting walks -- compared to the league-average rates, he swings an average amount, but he stays within the strike zone far more of the time, makes more contact, and whiffs much less than average. GM David Forst raves about his defense, too, which is nice to hear after the blooper reel we watched around the diamond last season. All of that probably sounds familiar, as the "defense & plate discipline" skill set is similar to past A's such as Daric Barton and Ike Davis, but those comparisons are only vague. Alonso has been a far more consistent hitter than either of those two were, and in terms of style he's more aggressive than Barton and hits for a higher average than Ike.

Other than his lack of power, Alonso's main downside is his health. He hit the DL five times in the last three seasons, for his wrist (twice), forearm, shoulder, and back, and over those three seasons he only played 95 games per year on average. But for now we can only assume that he's healthy, or else the A's wouldn't have gone out and gotten him.

With first base seemingly covered, that leaves a whole host of other in-house options for left field. They include:

Mark Canha
Coco Crisp
Sam Fuld
Jake Smolinski
Andrew Lambo

Canha is the obvious choice out of that group, if you're looking for an everyday guy. Coco only played 44 games last year and it's tough to expect much from him in 2016. The SmoLambo platoon (Smolinski vs. LHP, Lambo vs. RHP) has potential, but there's no reason the duo can't start in Nashville until one of them breaks out or an injury forces their promotion (both have option years remaining). Fuld seems likely have more of a bench role if he's still around in April.

If we plug Canha into LF for now, here is what the lineup might look like at the moment:

C: Vogt (vs. RHP) and Phegley (vs. LHP)
1B: Alonso (Canha as backup or platoon)
2B: Jed (Brett as backup if he stays? Or Sogard?)
SS: Semien
3B: Brett? Valencia? (work-in-progress)
LF: Canha (Coco/Fuld as backup)
CF: Burns (Fuld as backup)
RF: Reddick
DH: Butler

As it stands, that group still lacks power, but it could at least be neutral defensively (which would be a huge step up). There will almost certainly be more moves, though, so any part of the lineup could still change. Subtractions seem more likely to me at this point, with more of a focus on adding pitching, but anything is possible with this team. The first edition of Mr. Forst's Wild Ride is chugging along, and who knows where it'll take us next.