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A’s sign Jace Peterson

First Major-League deal for Oakland this off-season

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland is finally dipping into the free agent pool, reportedly signing utility man Jace Peterson to a 2-year contract.

The lefty-hitting Peterson has experience all over the diamond but primarily played third base for the Milwaukee Brewers this past season. That’ll probably be his main position in 2023 after Oakland third baseman last year posted the worst OPS in the league for the position, but he’ll be able to bounce around where needed. He also has a lot of experience at second base, another position the A’s could use some help, as well as the corner outfield spots. Oakland loves ‘em some flexibility in the field.

While it’s not his calling card, Peterson should provide more pop than Vimael Machin and Sheldon Neuse (who has reportedly signed in Japan), but that’s not saying much. Machin, who remains on the team, had a grand total of one home run last season while Neuse had four; Peterson had 8 last year alone.

The main thing Peterson has going for him, in addition to his positional flexibility, is a fair bit of speed. He stole 22 bags over the past two seasons while only getting caught once each year. For a team that’s not going to hit a lot of home runs, they’ll need something to help them score runs, and Peterson’s base stealing should help in that department.

This also probably ends the Chad Pinder era in Oakland. While the front office and staff always spoke glowingly of Pinder, and even mentioned hoping to bring him back, he was expected to get a decent amount of interest on the free agent market. With Oakland tightening the purse strings right now, it was always the most likely scenario that he’d played his last game for the A’s.

This is exactly the type of move the A’s were expected to be making this season: low-cost deals with players looking for guaranteed playing time. The soon-to-be 33-year old Peterson will hold down the position until prized prospect Zack Gelof is ready to take over, perhaps as early as next summer. If Gelof does force his way into the mix sooner than later, Peterson could get some run at second base or, more likely, be dangled in a trade to a contender. Oakland probably had to offer that second year in order to bring him in, which means he probably had a decent amount of interest from other teams.

It would not be a surprise to see him traded at the deadline if the offer is right and Gelof is ready to take over full-time, but for now, Oakland has a new third baseman.