The A's have said all the right things when it comes to Franklin Barreto.
Whether it's Billy Beane, David Forst or Bob Melvin, all have expressed great optimism in the 22-year-old's big league potential. However, their actions haven't quite matched that confidence in their top prospect.
Oakland has been linked to a handful of names at second base, both free agents and trade candidates. The A's reportedly have shown interest in DJ LeMahieu, Ian Kinsler, Jurickson Profar and, of course, last year's starter, Jed Lowrie.
"The good thing is there are a lot of options for us," Beane said last week at the MLB Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. "The best thing is we have an in-house option (Barreto) if need be, somebody who we think very highly of, and time will tell which one we go with."
While those are all fine options, it's time to give Barreto his shot. For years, we've heard about the talent and potential. Let's see what he can do in a full major league season.
Melvin told NBC Sports California that he'd be comfortable with Barreto as his everyday second baseman: "I would. If that's where we go with this, absolutely. He's still only 22 years old. And there was some debate whether he was ready a year and a half ago to come up here and play every day. So you really never know until you give him the opportunity."
Barreto has displayed his ability in flashes over the last couple of seasons, in limited opportunities. He hit five home runs in just 73 at-bats last year, including a colossal 444-foot blast to dead center in Anaheim on September 30.
"He's a very talented player," Melvin said. "He's got a lot of time with the Chapmans and the Olsons and these guys, part of that Pinder group of guys who played together and had a lot of success together (in the minors). I'm a big Franklin Barreto guy. If that's where we ended up and he was the everyday guy, I'd be fine with it."
Barreto's biggest problem has been plate discipline. He has struck out 62 times in 144 career major league at-bats, a rate of 43 percent. But he has made great strides in that area in winter ball in Venezuela.
"He's having a really nice winter," Forst said. "His strikeout ratio has improved. So we're keeping tabs on that."
Added Melvin: "We've seen, at times, him be really good about controlling the strike zone, and that's when he has tons of success. Then when he struggles some, he maybe starts to expand a little bit more. ... I think he has the ability to do it. He works really hard. He's one of the hardest working guys we had. He's got a ton of talent. He's got power and speed. There's a lot for him to offer."
Giving the everyday job to Barreto also would save the A's some serious cash. Barreto will make just $555,000 next season, where Lowrie or LeMahieu easily could cost upwards of $10 million. Think of the starting pitching Oakland could add for that amount.
Will Barreto develop into a solid major league second baseman? That remains to be seen. But the A's will never know unless they give him a chance.