When the A's traded utility man Jurickson Profar to the San Diego Padres on Dec. 2, they quietly acquired a player who fits multiple needs on their big league roster.
Austin Allen easily could serve as Oakland's backup catcher in 2020, and he brings a powerful left-handed bat off the bench. The former Padres prospect has a clear path to the A's roster, especially if rosters expand to 26 players next year.
Allen, who turns 26 years old on Jan. 16, made his major league debut for the Padres. He struggled in 34 games, batting just .215 with a .559 OPS, but his numbers in Triple-A tell a different story.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder crushed the ball over 67 games for the El Paso Chihuahuas. Allen hit .330 with 21 home runs and had an eye-opening 1.042 OPS. Sure, he took advantage of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but those certainly are numbers worth taking a chance on if you're the A's.
This wasn't a fluke for Allen, too. The powerful left-hander hit .290 with 22 homers and an .857 OPS the year before in Double-A. He has hit 75 long balls over five minor league seasons.
Allen's ability to hammer right-handed pitching is what makes him such a viable option for the A's. He hit .356 with 15 homers and a 1.106 OPS off right-handers in Triple-A last season.
Yeah, that plays.
The A's only catcher on the big league roster right now is the right-handed hitting Sean Murphy, who made his MLB debut last season. But he hit .229 off right-handers compared to .278 against lefties.
Murphy should be the A's primary starter behind the dish, and has the potential to be a future Gold Glove catcher. Having Allen as an option off the bench doesn't hurt, though.
The A's as a whole are right-handed heavy throughout the lineup. Whether it's as a spot starter for Murphy or a powerful bat off the bench, Allen should be able to find his way onto the roster next season.