This year’s trade deadline was one of the biggest ones ever for A’s fans. Billy Beane acquired two frontline starting pitchers in Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester, and traded away all-star left fielder Yoenis Céspedes. But even with all the moves, Beane did not address the team’s glaring hole at second base.
Luckily for the A’s, August is the prime month for waiver trades. Many teams put players on waivers, and if they are claimed, the two teams have 48 hours to work out a deal. Beane has experience with these deals, most notably picking up Stephen Drew in August of 2012.
This year, the A’s unimpressive three-headed monster of Alberto Callaspo, Eric Sogard and Nick Punto has covered the second base spot, and the trio has combined to hit .220. Although Sogard and Punto are considered to be above-average defensively, all three players are not strong hitters and should be backup infielders.
One team that the A’s should look to trade with is the Philadelphia Phillies. Many experts believe that they missed out on an opportunity at the trade deadline to deal some of their veterans for prospects. They are 11 games out in the NL East and have many veterans approaching the end of their careers on the roster.
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are two players the A’s can look to acquire. Rollins may be easier for the A’s to trade for because his contract expires at the end of next year, while Utley’s has options through the 2018 season. If the A’s were to pick up Rollins, current shortstop Jed Lowrie would slide over to second base.
Either player would be a significant offensive upgrade as they both have better slash lines than anybody in the A’s current trio. Utley is hitting .281/.349/.426 and Rollins owns a .241/.318/.398 line this year. Callaspo’s line is the strongest of the A’s trio at a weak .231/.303/.298 for the year.
Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets could also be an interesting possibility for Beane and the A’s. Murphy currently leads the national league in hits with 144 and he is also eligible for free agency after next year. Although his career defensive WAR of -1.9 is not desirable, Sogard or Punto could stay on the roster as a backup infielder and late-game defensive replacement.
Another player to target is Ben Zobrist of the Tampa Bay Rays. Zobrist is a super-utility player who has played 59 games at second base and slashed .278/.363/.426 this year. The Rays showed with their trade of David Price last week that they are not trying to compete this year, and since Zobrist’s contract expires at the end of next year, they may be willing to deal him.
If the A’s were to acquire any of these players via a waiver trade, they would probably have to part with some of their remaining minor league talent. Since the A’s have traded Addison Russell, some people mistakenly believe that the organization is out of high-quality minor leaguers, but there are a few players that will intrigue other teams.
The first prospect that comes to mind is 20-year-old Matt Olson, who has a .960 OPS at High-A Stockton this year. Olson was the 47th overall pick in the 2012 draft and is on track to be the first baseman of the future for the A’s. Other prospects to watch in trade talks include Stockton third baseman Renato Nunez and Sacramento outfielders Billy Burns and Shane Peterson.