The Oakland A’s made another trade on Thursday, sending LHP Dillon Overton to the Mariners for minor league catcher Jason Goldstein, the team announced. Overton had been designated for assignment on Wednesday to make room for free agent signing Adam Rosales.
Overton was a 2nd-round pick in 2013, and the last two years he was in the Top 10 of our Community Prospect List. He posted strong numbers throughout the minors despite his velocity falling to the mid/high-80s after Tommy John surgery. However, he got utterly smoked in a few brief MLB trials last season at age 24, and he currently holds the all-time record for most HR allowed per nine innings (min. 20 career innings). His stats were gross and they matched the eyeball test:
Overton, 2016: 7 games, 11.47 ERA, 24⅓ ip, 17 Ks, 7 BB, 12 HR, 9.15 FIP, -1.0 WAR*
* average of -1.1 bWAR and -0.9 fWAR
All that said, Overton still has promise. He’s still a lefty who can throw strikes, with six years of team control. That’s why the A’s were able to trade him instead of simply losing him on waivers. Unfortunately, the A’s have so much upper-minors pitching depth right now that there just wasn’t room for everyone, and Overton was the next one squeezed out.
Meanwhile, Oakland received help in an area of great organizational need: catcher. Here’s more on Jason Goldstein, from Lookout Landing:
Goldstein was a 9th round pick in the  draft, but missed much of his first season with a hamstring injury. Goldstein was a senior selected out of Illinois. According to prospect expert Ethan Novak, he was “known as a glove-first catcher with good leadership/clubhouse presence. His bat came around his senior year but there were questions over the legitimacy of his breakout senior season.” He will be 23 at the start of this season after hitting .255/.316/.294 in Single-A Everett in 2016.
He only played 19 pro games last after the draft, 14 of them in Low-A. His stats weren’t much, but that’s essentially meaningless at this stage so I’m not even going to post them other than his 76 wRC+. The A’s have almost no other noteworthy names at the catcher position anywhere else in the minors, though the one they do have was also drafted last summer (Sean Murphy, 3rd round, elite throwing arm).
Hot take: One way or other, this move is probably somewhere between minor and insignificant. I would have liked to give Overton one more real chance in the bigs before moving on, but the odds sure do seem against him at his current velocity. What bugs me, even if only on principle, is that the reason he got squeezed out is because the A’s signed so dang many boring one-year stopgap veterans. I thought those veterans were supposed to keep the seats warm for the incoming prospects, not force them out entirely.
But what’s done is done, and if a pitcher had to go then he was probably the right choice. The return isn’t much, but with Overton already DFA’d the A’s only had a few days to find a trade partner and little leverage to work with. Something is better than nothing.