Earlier today Daric Barton spoke to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle today about a variety of topics, but one quote in particular caught my attention. Barton mentioned to Slusser that he was surprised to be back in Oakland this season. The A’s brought him back on a low risk deal this season presumably to start at Triple-A Sacramento. Even though Barton does not provide a lot of talent he is a decent insurance policy should something happen in Oakland where Moss either falters or is injured and Lowrie cannot fill the gap left.
Barton had a huge 2010 hitting to a .273 avg and a .393 OBP in 159 games at first base. Finally, the A’s saw the potential they thought they had got when they received him in the 2004 Mark Mulder trade. The A’s might finally have a long term first baseman. Then 2011 came and went disastrously. That was followed by an even worse 2012 which eventually led to Barton’s demotion to Triple-A Sacramento. That’s where things got even worse.
Barton played the majority of the 2012 season with the River Cats with little results. Barton had an excellent on base percentage (that’s what he is most known for) however he only hit to a .255 avg. This is disappointing on two levels especially for the A’s. The first is that the average is low even for Barton who does not hit consistently enough to garner a high batting average. The second reason is that the River Cats play in the Pacific Coast League which is known to be a hitter’s league. Generally players have higher averages due to this reason. The fact that Barton’s was even lower than usual should raise some concerns as to why he is struggling so much after what seems a strong yet distant 2010.
There are three probably/possible reasons why the A’s resigned Daric Barton to a contract for this upcoming 2013 season. The first is the fact that they signed him to a cheap deal that is non-guaranteed. Therefore, there is little risk in having him back for another season because even if he falters they can cut him loose and not be on the hook for the rest of his contract. The second reason is that GM Billy Beane knew he was going to trade Chris Carter at some point and wanted the insurance of having another first baseman in the organization with Major League experience. The final reason is that the A’s may think they know why Barton is struggling so badly and feel like there is a potential resolution to get him back on track.
The good news is that if Barton does get back on track the A’s have added depth as well as added a trade piece to their plans for a potential mid season trade. If Barton does struggle again the A’s can cut him loose no harm no foul. It’s a win win for the A’s. For Barton it may be his final chance in Oakland.