The trade deadline up to this point has been very quiet, but last night the A’s made some news with a non-blockbuster move with a division rival. The A’s acquired infielder Alberto Callaspo, and sent minor-league infielder Grant Green to the Angels.
Why did the A’s do this? Callaspo has played primarily third base where the A’s have Josh Donaldson. Callaspo is 30 years old with one and a half seasons of team control while Green has just five games of Major League service time and six seasons of team control. Callaspo doesn’t play great defense, he hasn’t played second base with any regularity since 2009 and over the last few years has been a pretty average hitter.
Given all of the above it was difficult to see the upside for the Billy Beane and the A’s. However, in the short-term it doesn’t seem like such a bad move.
One of the trade’s positives is that it gives them another very flexible player. Callaspo may not play defense all that well, but he can fill in all over the diamond in a pinch. He’s also a switch hitter who is better hitting from the right side, opening up platoon options.
It seems the plan is for Callaspo to replace Adam Rosales and serve as the right-handed portion of a second base platoon with Eric Sogard. Callaspo can also spell Donaldson at third when he needs a break.
In this case, the cost for added flexibility was Green. He was their first round pick in 2009 and I had him ranked as the A’s fifth best prospect at the start of the season. The question for Green is what position he’d play, and from the looks of this trade it appears the A’s were not sold on him becoming the long-term answer at second base. Outside of the defensive questions it is a possibility that Green is a better hitter than Callapso right now, just one that the A’s had given up on.
Replacing Rosales with Callaspo should be worth in the neighborhood of around 0.5 to 1 win over the rest of the season. The price of Green seems high for what on the surface appears to be a marginal upgrade, but it looks like the A’s didn’t see much of a future for him and took a chance to help their chances this year.
Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron compared Callaspo to Marco Scutaro:
For the A’s, they’re buying low on an underrated player who looks awfully similar to last year’s trade deadline hero Marco Scutaro. For reference, here are their stats over the last three calendar years, side by side.
Name PA BB% K% ISO BABIP AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Fld BsR WAR Marco Scutaro 1746 7% 7% 0.105 0.314 0.300 0.351 0.405 0.333 105 -7.6 1.3 7.5 Alberto Callaspo 1594 10% 9% 0.093 0.277 0.264 0.336 0.357 0.308 96 19.1 -1.9 7.1
Scutaro leads the majors in contact rate this year, while Callaspo is #5. Both have basically the same offensive skillset, but Callaspo’s numbers are lower because he’s run below average BABIPs for the last few years. If he gets a BABIP bounce down the stretch while maintaining his control of the strike zone, his numbers could improve quite a bit, and he could be a solid on base guy at the top of the A’s line-up. A switch-hitter, he also gives them flexibility and some depth behind Donaldson in case of an injury, which they didn’t have previously.
That trade worked out pretty nicely for the Giants; perhaps this deal will spark the A’s to a magical postseason run as well.