The Oakland A’s made one of the biggest trades so far this season when they exchanged their top prospects for Chicago Cubs starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. This trade strengthened an already strong starting rotation and many would think that the A’s would be done pursuing anymore trades this season. However, the A’s are not done. With less than a week left before the deadline, they are still frantically searching for a second baseman.
It is obvious that the Oakland A’s only weakness right now is at second base. Between Alberto Callaspo, Eric Sogard, and Nick Punto, Callaspo has had the strongest performances both at second base and at the plate. However, Callaspo is out on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, and he was only batting .182 in his last ten games before the injury occurred.
Between Sogard and Punto, second base is currently batting .204, slugging .258, and only has 22 RBI. Additionally, Punto only has two home runs this season while Sogard has none. Even though they do provide great defense in the field, these players have been performing poorly at the plate. The Oakland A’s are ultimately looking for a stronger bat to add to their lineup and strengthen the 2B position.
There were talks early on that the Oakland A’s were interested in Chase Utley and Ben Zobrist. Zobrist is the perfect infield utility man with a .265 batting average and a .751 OPS. Utley is a veteran second baseman who has a strong bat – .292 AVG – and experience playing in the postseason. However, it became apparent that these two players will be too expensive for the Oakland A’s since the A’s traded away their top prospects to the Cubs. Even though SF Chronicle writer Susan Slusser told 95.7 The Game that the Athletics are not worrying about the money this time around (shocking!), these two second basemen are still out of reach.
There has also been rumors that the Athletics are looking at Nick Franklin – the Seattle Mariners former second baseman before they acquired Robinson Cano. Franklin did not bat well while in the major leagues in 2013 however he has been strong in Triple-A Tacoma this year with a .298 batting average and 42 RBI. But, Franklin has not proven that his success in minors will transfer over to the majors, which could be a problem for the Athletics since they specifically want a second baseman with a strong bat. Additionally, with the Mariners being in the same division as the Oakland A’s, it is unlikely that they will help their AL West rivals by giving up Franklin, especially since Seattle currently holds a playoff spot
There have been some other names floating around the Oakland A’s rumor mill including Arizona Diamondbacks 2B Aaron Hill. Hill’s numbers have been pretty average this year with a .252 batting averance which includes 49 RBI and 8 homers. But lately he has been heating up. In his last seven games, Hill is batting .458 with five out of 11 hits being doubles.
Hill has proven that he can bat better and he even won the N.L. Silver Slugger Award back in 2011. Perhaps his recent success at the plate will carry through the rest of the season. Even though he struggled during the first half of this season, Hill is a veteran second baseman who has some postseason experience. The Diamondbacks are definitely sellers this season, and perhaps the Athletics could strike a deal with them.
There is also Chicago Cubs second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and New York Mets 2B Daniel Murphy on the Oakland A’s radar. However, I think if they were truly considering Bonifacio, the Athletics would have tried picked him up in the trade with Samardzija and Hammel. Maybe the Oakland A’s are taking another look at him after it became clear they could not get Utley or Zobrist. Bonifacio’s numbers are pretty good this season, and he is also a versatile player who has played all over the infield for the Cubs and even in the outfield.
As for Murphy, he is batting well this season however his infield defense is not up to the Athletics standards. There have been some reports that the Athletics are not even looking at Murphy because he does not fit the typical Athletic mold. Additionally, Murphy only has five years of experience in the MLB and no postseason experience. I think the A’s would like a more veteran player who knows how to handle the pressure of the playoffs.
Even though there is less than a week left before the trade deadline, it is clear that the Oakland A’s are still searching for a second baseman. With the Athletics doing so well this season, it will be hard for them to snag a player in a cheap deal. They are going to need to spend money and make big trades to get the second baseman they ultimately want. Whether the trade be with the Mariners, Cubs, or Diamondbacks, no one knows. The one thing that is definite is that the Oakland A’s want another second baseman in the dugout before July 31st.
For more news, rumors, and opinions, visit the isportsweb Oakland A’s homepage.