Oakland Athletics: Making the case to sign Jason Kipnis in free agency

Oakland Athletics, Jason Kipnis (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Oakland Athletics, Jason Kipnis (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Athletics have reportedly been connected to second baseman Jason Kipnis and the former All-Star infielder would be an excellent signing for the team.

The Oakland Athletics begin the 2020 season with hopes of extending their streak of consecutive postseason appearances to three years. However, unlike years past, the team is set on advancing past the Wild Card round.

The A’s expect to ride their trio of star infielders Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson, toward an extended playoff run. The team is also relying on young players such as Franklin Barreto and Ramon Laureano to provide a jolt to their dangerous offense.

While the franchise elected to forgo an opportunity to bolster its rotation with a legitimate ace, they still have an opportunity to do what the Athletics do best — find valuable players at a discount price.

There are still a few talented free agents left on the market. With Spring Training officially underway, these players have limited leverage as they seek to make a team before the start of the regular season.

The A’s have reportedly been connected with one player in particular — two-time All-Star Jason Kipnis. Here’s why Billy Beane, David Forst, and the rest of the organization would be wise to sign Kipnis to a contract.

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The Experience

While Kipnis’ days as a serious All-Star candidate are likely at an end, he is still only 32-years-old. The former Cleveland centerpiece finished the 2019 season with a solid .245 average and 17 home runs in 458 at-bats.

In terms of defensive ability, Kipnis played 117 of his 121 starts at second base last season. His 6.1 defensive rating was good for sixth-best in MLB among second baseman.

He also brings considerable postseason experience to the table. Kipnis has 99 plate appearances in 24 October games.

The Depth

Manager Bob Melvin has high hopes for projected starter Franklin Barreto this season. The former top overall international prospect profiles as a potential second baseman of the future in Oakland.

While the top-100 prospect has a high upside, he has struggled in limited action in the major league level. In 201 career at-bats, Barreto has recorded a pedestrian .189 average and 27 RBI.

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While it is common for young players to struggle to adjust to MLB pitching, there could be cause for concern.

The team has every reason to believe that they will be serious contenders again in 2020. However, leaving a major starting position in the hands of an unproven player could prove disastrous if things were to go wrong.

The Athletics currently have veteran Chad Pinder as a utility man off the bench. However, imagine if the team were also able to add Kipnis. They would have an MLB-ready second baseman available, while also adding to their overall depth.

If Barreto struggled, Kipnis would be more than capable of taking over the everyday role. If he excelled, Kipnis could be used to backup, as a secondary designated hitter behind Kris Davis, and as the first pinch hitter of the bench.

Pinder could then be used as a Marwin Gonzalez type backup in the other infield and outfield spots.

The Conclusion

While Kipnis’ skills and resume are valuable, the biggest reason for his potential fit in Oakland comes down to one factor — his affordability.

Despite playing in a major market in the Bay Area, the A’s have a famously small market mindset. They are simply unwilling to spend major money on top free agents.

This makes Kipnis a sensible addition. Despite his clear talent, Kipnis played the 2019 season on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. He and his agent may be seeking a multi-year deal. However, it is likely that his services could be acquired at a relatively small price.

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If Kipnis is willing to forgo a guaranteed role as a starter in exchange for an opportunity to compete for a championship, the Oakland Athletics should offer him a contract as soon as possible.