Athletics

What A's Jurickson Profar trade means for Franklin Barreto in Oakland

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What A's Jurickson Profar trade means for Franklin Barreto in Oakland

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.

[RELATED: Everything you need to know about Profar]

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.

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

Why Bob Melvin has sky-high expectations for A's before 2020 season

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's reported to spring training on time Monday morning for the preseason’s first full-squad engagement. This group, as assembled, is stacked.

It doesn’t take advanced stats experts to see the 2020 crew is loaded with talent, depth and the superstars required to improve upon back-to-back 97-win seasons. That’s even true in an improved AL West and at a point on the calendar where hope springs eternal.

Manager Bob Melvin was quick to point to another reason for extreme optimism this season.

It starts with the A's superstars setting a proper tone throughout the organization. Their work ethic, Melvin said, proves contagious.

“We have a bunch of guys like that, whether it’s Matt Olson or Matt Chapman or Marcus Semien, those guys set the tone for how we do things around here,” Melvin said Monday morning. “When you have younger players coming up or new players coming in and they see how our top guys work, they have no choice to work the same way.

"It’s great when your best players are the hardest workers.”

Those players can absolutely mash. That was clear during the first full-squad workout. Several have been around taking swings in recent days but seeing so many established veterans alternating through the cages around Lew Wolff Training Complex certainly creates belief the A's can score with anybody in 2020. Pair that with a legit frontline starting rotation and All-Star closer Liam Hendricks and even Melvin can see a clear path to great things this season.

Melvin has been around a long time and managed a lot of good baseball teams. His expectations for this group are sky high. He made that clear in his opening speech to the full squad here in major league camp.

“We always discuss in our first meeting what our goals and expectations are,” Melvin said. “We try to keep those to ourselves but, when you have two seasons with 97 wins and 97 wins and you feel like we have a better team this year, yeah I think our expectations are pretty high.”

[RELATED: Why Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team]

Vegas oddsmakers set the over-under line at 89.5 wins for these A's, a significant sum that would put them back in serious contention for a third straight postseason berth. They’ll be gunning for a division title after two straight wild-card berths where the season died out in a one-game playoff.

This largely established group is focused on staying healthy and intact for when the games actually count. That doesn’t mean they’re content to sit back this spring and wait for good times to roll. The grind continues for the entire team as it works to become more versatile.

The A's are placing emphasis on situational hitting this spring, possible going against the grain for a team that as historically liked walks and big blasts.

That will be important in working through offensive slumps like the A’s experienced near last season’s end.

“You can bludgeon teams at times, but there will be times where we go through offensive droughts as a team,” Melvin said. “The defense is always going to be there, but if we can win some games situationally by getting guys over and getting guys in by putting some focus on that, the team will be better because of it.

"We’ll continue to emphasize that.”

Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

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Why A's Mark Canha rightfully was named to MLB.com's All-Underrated Team

Mark Canha, like many A's players, quietly fell under the radar last season. The recently-turned 31-year-old hit a career-high 26 home runs, yet nobody seemed to mention his name. 

One person, at least, did notice. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince named Canha to his All-Underrated Team going into the 2020 season. Canha is Castrovince's center fielder, though he mostly will play in left for the A's with Ramon Laureano healthy. 

Canha actually played four positions in 2019: 56 games in center, 27 games in right field, 15 games at first base and 10 games in left. The Cal alum also served as Oakland's DH in 16 games. 

Along with a career-best in homers, Canha posted career highs along his .273/.396/.517 slash line. He also produced a .913 OPS and 145 OPS+.

Canha's versatility once again will be key for Bob Melvin's squad this season. Melvin has a plethora of outfield options in Canha, Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Robbie Grossman, Chad Pinder and more. 

[RELATED: Manfred believes Fiers did 'service' revealing Astros scandal]

Perhaps none of the above bring more to the table than Canha, though. 

As the A's look to move past the AL Wild Card Game this year, the San Jose native figures to be a reliable asset yet again.