The Oakland Athletics have traded outfielder Billy Burns to the Kansas City Royals for outfielder Brett Eibner. Eibner will report to Triple-A Nashville, the A’s announced. Eibner will end the year with less than a year of service time and two option years remaining, Burns will end the year with over a year of service time and no option years remaining.
Brett Eibner, 27, was Kansas City’s No. 28 prospect on the MLB.com prospect list. Eibner has enjoyed a breakout over the last couple of years in Triple-A Omaha. Last year Eibner hit .303/.365/.514 (131 wRC+) and this year he is hitting .288/.385/.516 (136 wRC+). The outfielder made his major league debut with the Royals in May as Kansas City dealt with injury issues, and hit .231/.286/.423 (84 wRC+) with three home runs, six walks, and 23 strikeouts in 85 plate appearances.
This year, Billy Burns, 26, seemed to find defenses all too able to adjust to his slap-happy style at the major leagues and pitchers perfectly happy to let Burns slap the ball into waiting defenses. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 (53 wRC+) before he was demoted to Nashville to let Coco Crisp and Jake Smolinski take over in center field.
The option years and service time really seem to be the key here. The A’s really can’t afford to wait to see if Burns can improve because they have to have him on their major league roster next year or else must put him through waivers, assuming he reaches the 20-day threshold to charge his last option year. The Royals could still recall Burns in the next five days and save that option year for next year, but they are having him report to Omaha for now.
The right-handed batting Eibner has been hitting better than anyone left in Nashville and he’s been playing in all of the outfield positions. If the A’s trade Josh Reddick, they’ll need a new right fielder. If the A’s pull off an extension for Reddick, Eibner at the very least could be an interest platoon partner out there.
Update 2:45 p.m.: David Forst comments to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Brett Eibner:
Forst cont. "We think Brett is a really good fit for us going forward." Says Eibner plays excellent defense, provides power from r side.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 30, 2016
This is a breaking news story. We’ll have further analysis of this deal soon.