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A’s Acquire Callaspo from the Angels

July 30, 2013

On Twitter earlier, I had commented that if I were Billy Beane I wouldn’t be afraid of trading with the Angels and that Erick Aybar or Howie Kendrick would be nice pieces though I wasn’t sure there’d be a mutual agreement on finding players that matched.  My thinking being the Angels have an abundance of middle infielders they seemingly are open to dealing and the A’s have prospects which the Angels are in dire need of. Furthermore, the Angels are sort of in this no man’s land. They clearly need to get a good young core but they are also stuck with these very big and long contracts that are clearly indicative that the club had intended to win now. To me that made the Angels a suitable trade partner, someone that like Houston the A’s didn’t have to have serious fear of, as they clearly didn’t sending them Chris Carter, Brad Peacock and Max Stassi this past offseason.

While I may have been thinking Aybar and Kendrick, the A’s instead acquired Alberto Callaspo from their rivals in Orange County in exchange for infielder and former top prospect Grant Green. This is the first trade that the Angels and A’s have made (that hasn’t been voided – there was one of those in 2005) since 1999 when the A’s sent Jeff DaVanon, Nathan Haynes and Elvin Nina to the then Anaheim Angels in exchange for Omar Olivares and Randy Velarde. Callaspo is probably the best player the A’s have ever acquired in a trade with the Angels. Callaspo who has nearly exclusively played third base with Los Angeles has 217 games at second base to his credit in his career and seems set to fill that role for the A’s.

What the A’s get in Callaspo is a player who through yesterday was a 0.4 WAR player for the Angels with a .253/.323/.348 slash line in 334 plate appearances with five home runs. He has been stymied a bit by a low BABIP (.255) making him overall all a below average hitter with a wOBA of .297 and wRC+ of 90. That said that represents a marked improvement over what the A’s have put up this year out of second base: a wOBA of .278 and wRC+ of 75. Callaspo has been sort of all over the map with his glovework and who knows what he will look like at second base with his last appearance there coming August 7, 2010. While Callaspo may not hit a lot, nor walk a lot (9.9% BB%) what he also doesn’t do and important vis-a-vis other members of this club is strikeout a lot. So far on the 2013 campaign Callaspo has struck out just 6.6% of the time he strides to the plate which is tops in the American League and only bettered by Norichika Aoki (5.1%) and Marco Scutaro (6.2%) in MLB.

What the A’s gave up was Green, who just this season entered as Baseball America’s #8 A’s prospect. They were muted in their praise of Green saying,

“While he may not have an impact bat, he’ll provide enough offense to be a solid regular.”

It is a bit peculiar to me that the Angels would seek to replace a third baseman with a middle infielder when they still have the aforementioned Aybar and Kendrick but perhaps that is advance of shipping one of them somewhere tomorrow.  Callaspo has a $4.1M contract this season and is signed through 2014 for just $4.875M so the A’s will get two years of Callaspo while giving up Green who has about six years of team control. Green was called up to the A’s this year, and failed to reach base in 16 tries going 0-for-15 with a sacrifice fly striking out six times. At Sacramento he fared much better hitting .325/.379/.500 in 415 plate appearances with 11 home runs, a .388 wOBA and 131 wRC+. Most noteworthy – and not in a positive way – was Green’s atrocious fielding as he committed three errors in just five games manning second. Green, the 13th overall pick of the 2009 draft was someone I’d hoped would be a part of the A’s future plans, but the A’s plan on competing now and clearly didn’t feel they could wait for Green to get with the program. Regardless it seems a high but reasonable price to pay for the solid and affordable Callaspo.

Clearly the A’s feel that they can risk sending Green home to Orange County (he is a Fullerton native and University of Southern California product) and facing him over the next several years won’t come back to bite them because they hope Callaspo in the next two years can help the A’s bring home a ring. Nice work by Beane and Jerry Dipoto, I actually think this trade has a lot of upside for both clubs.

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