I have nothing to say — I just really wanted to write that headline. OK fine, I have a lot to say. When don’t I?
The trade of Emilio Pagan, Eli White, a draft pick and some Int’l money, in a 3-team deal with Tampa Bay and Texas, brings to Oakland their new 2Bman Jurickson Profar. Profar is under team control in 2019 and 2020. Upon hearing the news, undoubtedly your first thought was, “OMG, what does Nico, some random dude on the internet, think of this trade???” I am here to answer this very question, as well as to point out the many possible fallouts (falls out?) from this transaction.
Though Pagan offers a talented arm capable of a big bounce back season, the “ouch moment” belongs to Eli White who went from obscurity to intrigue as a prospect thanks to a breakout 2018 season at AA (.306/.388/.450 with solid defensive reports at 2B). But you have to give talent to get talent, and as “ouches” go the loss of White is livable considering the deal could easily have involved the likes of Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Dalton Jefferies, or younger prospects with even more upside such as Austin Beck or Lazarito. For the pitching-depth starved A’s, arguably Brian Howard and Parker Dunshee were more important to keep than White, who profiles as a versatile utility player with a good bat but little power.
The one prospect I’m surprised wasn’t involved is Sheldon Neuse, because he seemed to me like the consummate ‘win-win’ option for Oakland and Texas. The Rangers need a 3Bman, Neuse could hit a ton in Arlington, and the A’s have 3B handled for a while. Perhaps the Rangers actually preferred White, or maybe the A’s insisted on keeping Neuse over White and got their way.
In any event, in terms of what the A’s had to give up I think Oakland made out awfully well even though it would have been great to see what White could do. He is certainly an interesting prospect, but maybe not exciting enough to lose sleep over when the gain is Profar.
How much of a gain is Profar? He had a legitimate breakout season (.254/.335/.458, 2.9 WAR), his best position is 2B, he is still only 25 and he is under contract for two seasons. And while he has been mostly a disappointment, he does come with the pedigree of a top, top prospect who entered professional baseball with a truckload of tools and high expectations.
So this particular blogfather is quite bullish on the deal, feeling like the A’s made out great overall in adding a significant piece at a position of need without having to give up talent that was too high up on the depth chart. The question is...what other dominoes might this cause to fall...?
Barreto’s future with Oakland
In one way, the deal seems to solidify Franklin Barreto’s place in the organization in that the past week has seen Oakland let Richie Martin get claimed in the Rule 5 draft, Eli White get dealt to Texas, and Jed Lowrie removed from consideration (one would certainly presume). Suddenly, the A’s depth up the middle beyond Barreto has been razed to where in the immediate future it looks like “Mateo or bust”.
If the A’s believe in Barreto, they could tell him “You will get the keys to 2B when you turn 24,” give him the 2019 season to sharpen up his contact skills and 2B play, let him share time with Profar in 2020 with Profar also backing up as needed at 1B, SS and 3B, and gracefully transition to being “the guy” by 2021.
On the other hand, not only do the A’s now have a 2Bman under contract for 2020, a season in which Barreto will be out of options, they have solved 2B and could turn their attention to strengthening their rotation by dealing Barreto — one of their best trade chips, especially if you consider Jesus Luzardo, A.J. Puk, and Sean Murphy to be ‘untouchable’ — for a quality starting pitcher.
It’s worth noting that Oakland sits with a fair amount of value that they could move without completely disrupting the major or minor league core: for example, a package including Barreto, Neuse, and Mark Canha could garner a legitimate return.
If the A’s keep everyone and can find the roster space, they could put together awfully strong platoons now at 2B and LF. Putting Dustin Fowler initially at AAA because he has options, you could have a LF platoon of Nick Martini and Mark Canha that would provide average defense and probably very solid offense. On the infield, you could platoon Profar (who has hit far better from the left side in his career so far) with Chad Pinder, giving you a pretty robust offensive pair with around average defense.
If the A’s were to move Canha, you would put Pinder part time in LF, which makes your LF defense much stronger, and perhaps let Profar play every day at 2B, which makes your infield defense stronger compared to giving some of that time to Pinder.
Clearly the A’s still need starting pitching, and where the Profar trade comes in is not only could Barreto potentially be a trade chip now but also money that could have gone to Lowrie now can go towards a SP. So whether by trade or free agency, Oakland now has more means to add a quality SP than they had yesterday.
Honestly, I can’t begin to judge the A’s off-season until I see how they assemble their rotation and what it looks like. What I can say is that I very much like this move and I think it opens up possibilities for addressing the team’s biggest need going forward. Well played, Mr. Forst...
What Do You Think Is The A’s Next Move...?
This poll is closed
Trade Barreto for starting pitching
Keep Barreto, sign a decent FA SP with the saved "Lowrie money"
Sign cheap FA SP and spend a little more for a decent catcher
Big trade (e.g., Barreto, Fowler, Neuse) for a quality SP
Add yet more quality relievers, try to win without assembling much of a rotation