An Oakland A’s player showed up in the rumor mill this week, but then was quickly removed from it.
On Tuesday, insider Jon Heyman reported that utilityman Chad Pinder was “drawing significant interest” on the trade market, with inquiries from multiple teams including the Indians. However, on Wednesday, Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle followed up with a report that “the A’s have zero plans to move [Pinder].”
Analysis: All of that adds up to a non-story, but it’s still an interesting topic to consider. Teams like Pinder, but the A’s aren’t biting.
Over at Baseball Trade Values, Pinder carries a solid trade value, so dealing him could fetch an impactful return. The A’s could get a difference-making pitcher, or a prospect from the Top 10 list of just about any farm system. With a logjam of righty-hitting corner outfielders on the roster (Canha, Piscotty, Laureano if he moves to RF like I wish he would, plus Khrush as DH), this could be a productive way to help clear it up.
But I agree with the A’s stance to keep Pinder, for several reasons. First and foremost is his versatility — he can cover both the outfield and infield, which lets him efficiently fill multiple roles on a bench that has limited space. It also sets him apart among the other outfielders, since he can still contribute even when at-bats are hard to come by out there. Defensive versatility is a hot commodity in today’s game.
Another thing to like about Pinder is that he’s quietly an excellent defender in the outfield. Despite being relatively new to the positions, and only getting sporadic playing time, he’s posted consistently strong metrics in both LF and RF. The eyeball test backs up those numbers, too, and I’d make the argument that he’s the best defensive outfielder on the A’s roster right now. Oakland’s defense has been a big part of their success lately, and he’s been a notable part of that, one which I’d like to keep around.
What’s more, even if you did want to trade Pinder, this wouldn’t seem like the opportune moment. His wRC+ fell from 114 (in 2018) down to 87 this past summer, so dealing him now would feel like selling a bit low. It wasn’t necessarily just bad luck, as Statcast suggests he really didn’t hit the ball as well in 2019, but it’s worth seeing if he can bounce back a bit next year at age 28.
And then there’s the human element. Pinder was drafted and developed by the A’s, and he came up the system with teammate Matt Olson, and, to a lesser extent, Matt Chapman and Sean Manaea. He’s a long-time part of the current playoff-caliber core, and Oakland fans will take continuity with well-liked players where we can get it.
Pinder is just entering his prime years, he’s inexpensive (estimated $1.8 million), he’s under team control for a few more seasons, he’s an efficient role player who fits the A’s roster well, and he’s a homegrown favorite. He would be a reasonably valuable trade chip, and (as Slusser notes in her tweet) there’s always the chance of the proverbial offer you can’t refuse, but in general the A’s are right to spurn interest in him. Keep Pinder in Oakland.