The A’s acquisition of Jurickson Profar will have ramifications that go beyond just the players involved in the three-team trade.
A’s general manager David Forst confirmed Friday that Profar will be Oakland’s everyday second baseman, which means Jed Lowrie will not be back next season. The A’s had hoped to retain their All-Star second baseman, but the sides couldn’t come to an agreement, so Oakland found a Plan B in Profar.
Second, the deal with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays complicates Franklin Barreto’s role with the A’s. The 22-year-old has been Oakland’s top prospect ever since coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Josh Donaldson trade four years ago, and it appeared he finally might have his chance to play every day. But that no longer will be the case with Profar now in the mix for at least the next two seasons.
Forst told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Barreto will “take on more of a utility role.” Forst mentioned last week at the MLB Winter Meetings that Barreto could see some playing time in the outfield, and that now appears likely.
However, the A’s already have a crowded outfield, with Stephen Piscotty, Ramon Laureano, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Dustin Fowler and Chad Pinder in the fold. Piscotty and Laureano essentially have locked down the right and center field positions, which means Barreto will have to battle it out with Martini, Canha, Fowler and Pinder for the job in left.
Canha crushed left-handed pitchers last season, belting 13 home runs in just 149 at-bats with a .604 slugging percentage and .941 OPS, so he figures to get the majority of starts against southpaws next year. Martini and Fowler both bat left-handed and likely have the edge over righty-hitting Barreto against right-handed pitchers.
So, where does that leave Barreto? While he could get a start here and there, he’ll probably struggle to find consistent at-bats, barring injury. That makes him a probable trade candidate.
While the A’s have said they’re still high on Barreto, they desperately need to add starting pitching. That might not happen through free agency, especially with average starters such as Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey receiving $9 million and $11 million, respectively.
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If Oakland chooses to pursue starting pitching via trade, Barreto would be a valuable trade chip. The A’s reportedly have discussed reacquiring right-hander Sonny Gray from the Yankees, and Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, projected to receive $11.6 million in arbitration, also reportedly is on the trading block.
Whatever the A’s decide to do with Barreto, Friday’s trade all but guarantees he will not be an everyday player in Oakland anytime soon. From Barreto’s perspective, all he can do is work hard and remain patient. His opportunity eventually will come.
It just might not be in Oakland.