The 2013 Major League Baseball trade deadline was one of the more interesting in recent memory, not because of any headline-grabbing deals, but because of how shallow the pool was in terms of available talent.
Typically, you’d see teams at the bottom of the standings selling off assets in an effort to rebuild by replenishing the farm system with prospects and by losing their way into a high draft pick over the course of the second half.
This year was a little different. Only one team (the Chicago Cubs) really subscribed to the philosophy outlined above, mainly because other teams (Houston, Miami) started this process last season. Other teams look at their record thinking it makes more sense to re-tool in the offseason as opposed to calling it quits in July, and that they may have enough pieces in place where a few additions can turn them into a playoff-contender.
Of course, the Biogenesis scandal loomed large over all of this, and teams in contention with players that were rumored to be up for suspension for their ties to the Miami clinic had much more incentive to make a move, even if they didn’t know exactly how everything was going to play out.
In the case of the Oakland Athletics, the team had a few angles to approach potential trades. The two biggest positions of need going in were middle infield and pitching. Rumors started to swirl back in June about potential targets, but these names logically tend to be the most high profile players available, and the A’s are never a team that gives up the farm for a shot at winning now.
So even though Chase Utley gained traction in the media as a perfect fit for Oakland and Jake Peavy remained on the front office’s radar up until reports surfaced that the White Sox were asking for the A’s top prospects in return, it was no surprise that Beane & co. balked at having to give up so much for a 32-year-old with a substantial history of injuries.
The fact that Peavy was considered the top prize at the deadline was telling in and of itself, and once the A’s moved on, they quickly made a deal with the Angels, sending Grant Green to his native Southern California in return for 30-year-old veteran Alberto Callaspo.
A lot of fans had been voicing their support for Green as the second baseman of the future for the organization, which hasn’t employed a mainstay at the position since Mark Ellis. Those voices got a lot quieter after the 25-year-old went 0-for-15 with six strikeouts and two errors in a five-game stint in the majors in early July.
The bat was going to come along eventually, but the A’s needed some reassurance that Green was going to be able to settle in on the defensive side. In addition, he never looked totally comfortable at second. With limited space on the depth chart to begin with, it was going to be hard for Green to get playing time at anywhere besides second base, and although his time in the big leagues was short, it gave Oakland’s front office enough to go off of to decide they were going to include him in trade discussions.
What they netted in return is an eight-year veteran who can platoon with Eric Sogard at second base and maybe even give Josh Donaldson an occasional day off at third. Callaspo’s versatility is certainly what made him so attractive to the A’s, and at the plate he’s a switch hitter who can help Oakland’s offense when it comes to their tendency to leave men on base.
His real value for Oakland comes against left-handers, against which he’s hit .301/.347/.415 for his career. The acquisiton fills several needs and gives the A’s some flexibility when it comes to matchups, and Bob Melvin will surely mix Callaspo in masterfully, as he does with every other roster move he makes.
For the right price, Peavy would’ve been a great addition to the pitching staff, but when market forces drive the price up as they did in this situation, the A’s exercised restraint for the long-term benefit of the club while still positioning themselves to win now. Additionally, Brett Anderson is on pace to make a return in mid-to-late August, and Sonny Gray could appear sparingly as well if the A’s are really in need of an extra arm, so pitching wasn’t necessarily the need they had to address.
Almost as important as the move itself is the message it sends. The A’s have a real chance to go to the World Series with the group they have, and a low-key move makes it clear that Beane felt that this team is more than capable of continuing on a winning path as its currently constructed.
Now all the A’s and their fans have to do is sit back and see how it all plays out.