The Oakland A’s called up top prospect Matt Chapman on Thursday as expected, the team announced. Click here for more on Chapman. In a corresponding move, the A’s designated veteran Trevor Plouffe for assignment, clearing space for Chapman on the 40-man roster, on the 25-man roster, in the starting lineup, and at third base.
Plouffe came to Oakland last winter on a one-year free agent contract, and the hope was that he could bounce back from his poor 2016. Instead, he was mostly a non-factor at the plate, providing little outside of an occasional home run. He did play average defense at the hot corner, but even that was a step down from his 2014-15 peak.
Plouffe, 2017: .214/.276/.357, 71 wRC+, 7 HR, 8.0 BB%, 29.1 K%, 10 GIDP
Note: 0.0 WAR, averaged between 0.2 bWAR and -0.2 fWAR
He will now move aside for Chapman, who ranks No. 2 overall on our Community Prospect List. In the big picture, this is one more major push toward Oakland’s youth movement.
In terms of the present day, Chapman’s elite defense and throwing arm will be an immediate upgrade over any incumbent (Plouffe or otherwise). The only question is how his bat will fare in his first look at MLB-caliber pitching, but even a pessimistic forecast on that front wouldn’t likely be much worse than the line Plouffe provided.
Chapman, AAA: .259/.350/.592, 135 wRC+, 16 HR, 12.3% BB, 31.0% Ks
In a cruel twist, today is Plouffe’s 31st birthday. Happy birthday?
Hot takes: Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of my reaction last winter, upon hearing the rumors about the A’s interest in signing Plouffe:
No no no no no no no no no what no no
In the end, the A’s spent $5 million on two months of replacement-level play at a corner position.
This is the point where I’m probably supposed to go on a good rant, or at least slip in some I-told-you-so’s. That’s certainly what I expected I was going to do in this space. But by cutting bait so early, and exactly when they were ready to promote the next prospect, the A’s might have managed to salvage this situation into something halfway sensible.
Plouffe has been a good MLB player before, and by all accounts he’s a great guy and teammate. My main beef was that I didn’t think he was a good fit on this particular team, and even in my most optimistic take I still didn’t like it. But was any actual harm done?
- Forget the money. The A’s payroll is down even with his deadweight, and they don’t seem to have skimped in terms of signing prospects. I doubt this money made the difference between signing Luis Robert, and Plouffe’s off the books next year.
- He didn’t play well, but so what? Turns out it was only for two months. The A’s are in last place for a dozen other reasons, and he had his moments in a couple games. If anything, Plouffe being bad allowed the A’s to cut him faster than they might have if he had managed to be mediocre.
- The prospects weren’t really blocked. I might have advocated for Ryon Healy to get time at 3B, defense be damned on a losing team that was already awful at it anyway, but Healy is third on the team in plate appearances so he’s gotten his time regardless.
- Next up, I would have argued for Chad Pinder, who played 3B in college and could at least get his bat in the lineup, but he already took over at shortstop so he’s getting his time too.
- Now Chapman is here, which is awesome, but I didn’t need that to happen any sooner than today.
- This is unrelated to everything, but eternal respect for switching his walk-up music to Soundgarden after Chris Cornell passed.
With all that in mind, I don’t really have anything left to complain about. Plouffe came in, briefly filled a spot in the lineup until the top prospect was ready, then faded away exactly when necessary, all for a relatively nominal fee that didn’t financially preclude any other moves. My main worry was that his tenure would be dragged out too long and hold back the future, in the way I have felt some veterans got too much leash in 2015-16, but that isn’t what happened.
The A's haven't always made the best $ decisions, but their willingness to eat $ lately when younger players need a chance is good step.— Melissa Lockard (@oakclubhouse) June 15, 2017
I still wouldn’t have signed him, and I probably would have waited until the day after his birthday to release him you monsters. But, assuming an Alonso-esque breakout was never in the cards, this all worked out about as well as it could have for Oakland. He filled in some open at-bats for an appropriate length of time.
And like that *PLOUFFE* he’s gone.