This is why I love the Oakland A's front office: it rarely makes a move that takes the team back a step.
The Aaron Brooks-for-Chris Coghlan trade is just another example of Billy Beane and David Forst making the team better, whether it is for the current campaign or the future. The A's don't need another second baseman. They also don't need another corner outfielder or designated hitter. The team improves by becoming deeper and more versatile, and it gets another needed veteran hitter fresh off a deep postseason run.
Yes, Coghlan will play his age-31 season in 2016 and hasn't been mainstream-relevant since his National League Rookie of the Year 2009 season. He also has an obvious platoon split, but he favors right-handed pitching which means he performs well the majority of the time.
After a steep drop-off from his ROY season with the Miami Marlins, Coghlan found a home (briefly, I guess) with the Chicago Cubs. He posted a 117 OPS+ in barely more than 900 plate appearances across five different positions. He is more Ben Zobrist-lite than anyone who has been labeled Ben Zobrist-lite. Chris Coghlan is really, really good because he offers some power, some speed, and he gets on base far more than the average ballplayer.
He is the perfect guy for the A's to have right as Spring Training is beginning. He offers flexibility should a crucial injury occur. He's one more reliable, veteran position player in a sea of unpredictable youngsters. He also gives options should the A's decide to cut or trade their expensive and unimportant players. Most importantly he represents the player Oakland's opponents should have already acquired.
A's Opponents Missed Out
Early in the offseason the Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland, err, Anaheim settled on a left field platoon with none other than former-Athletic Craig Gentry and Daniel Nava. Propped up by their positive defensive contributions, a Nava/Gentry platoon is projected for 2 wins, according to Dan Szymborki's ZiPS machine. A bad physical is what stood in the way between the Angels and rescue from such a demise -- earlier this week they were on the verge of acquiring Michael Saunders from the Toronto Blue Jays, which would have been a fine improvement if not for Saunders' general inability to stay on the field. When he played he would have been better than Nava/Gentry, but without the versatility of Chris Coghlan.
The same deal that would have brought Saunders to Orange County would have sent Jay Bruce north to Toronto. That would have an even worse left field situation than Nava/Gentry. The last two seasons combined Bruce has been worth -0.8 fWAR. His power has severely declined while his on-base skills have all but eroded.
Coghlan is projected to regress. ZiPS and Steamer expect him to be below league-average offensively, despite being 19 percent better than the league over his past two seasons. However, even a slight drop-off upon coming to Oakland would mean he's likely to be a positive contributor.
The A's only get Coghlan for 2016 and Brooks was under team control for several more seasons, which is something A's fans have been trained to covet. The reality is Brooks was replaceable and Coghlan presents the team with numerous scenarios, which I believe can only better the franchise now and in the future.