One of the Oakland A’s first baseman, Daric Barton, has not started the year well. With a .149 batting average and only seven hits in 47 at-bats, people are starting to wonder why the Athletics are keeping him in the lineup at all- especially when there are two other qualified first basemen in the dugout.
However, since Brandon Moss and Alberto Callaspo have been hitting so well lately, these two tend to platoon the DH position depending on who has the better matchup against the opposing pitcher instead of starting at first base. As a result, Barton stays in the lineup.
Barton was called up from the minor leagues in 2013 after injuries ravaged the Athletics’ lineup. Many were surprised when he did not go back down to the minor leagues for the 2014 season. Barton does not have a powerful or aggressive swing due to his upright body position and lack of bend in his hips and knees when he swings. Additionally, he has a very short swing which results in less power and explains why he has a 0.096 Isolated Power or ISO. Lastly, Barton’s fielding has not been great either and he has already made three errors so far this season.
Because he is not producing, has a weak swing, and has not shown any promise of changing that swing in the near future, the Oakland A’s either need to designate him for assignment or let him go entirely. In all honesty, the Athletics should have kept Sam Fuld as their fifth outfielder and let Barton go once outfielder Craig Gentry came back from the DL. With two other first basemen on the team who were having a successful start to the season, it did not make sense to keep Barton, especially when Fuld had a better bat and was a great defensive force in the field. However, since we cannot redo the past, let us look to see who could replace Barton in the dugout if he were to be designated for assignment or let go.
There are really no prospects that are ready for the major leagues to replace Barton at first base. With three first baseman in the Top 20 of the Athletics’ prospects, only two have been to a major league spring training, but neither of them saw much playing time. The next best bet is to look at some free agents.
Interestingly enough, former Mariners first baseman Kendrys Morales is one of the few free agents left. Even though he is 30 years old, he has had a successful career. Last season, Morales had 23 home runs, 80 RBIs, and a .277 AVG. When it comes to fielding at first base, he has a career fielding percentage of .994.
If Morales joined the team, that would provide the Athletics with a solid starting first baseman. Callaspo and Moss could then focus on platooning the DH position. As always, either of them could step in as the first baseman if needed. Lastly, Moss could then double as the fifth outfielder just in case Josh Reddick falls back into the horrific slump he experienced during the first few weeks of the season.
There have been reports that Morales may wait until after June to sign with a team, which would mean that the Athletics would be stuck with Barton for at least another two months. That is not an ideal situation if Barton continues to underperform. Additionally, Morales’ salary last year was a little over five million dollars. If he is expecting more money this season, Morales might be out of the Athletics’ price range.
Morales would be a great choice for the Oakland A’s if they ultimately decided to get rid of Barton. Even if they do not decide to go with Morales, the least the Athletics can do is take Barton out of the lineup since he has the lowest batting average on the team. Hopefully the Oakland A’s will be able to solve this problem soon because Barton is not adding anything to the team at the moment.