Big market teams have begun closing in on Stephen Drew, confirming what has become more and more apparent over the last few weeks – Drew’s brief tenure with the Oakland A’s has likely ended.
But all is not bad news. The A’s this week made moves to protect several players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40 man roster. These minor leaguers were Grant Green, Shane Peterson, Michael Ynoa and Arnold Leon.
Green’s addition to the 40 man roster is hardly unexpected as he figures to be a big part of the team’s plans in the near future. Though he is currently listed as an outfielder, there is zero chance he contributes in the crowded outfield this year, barring several injuries.
Without a shortstop, Green returning to his natural position seems more and more likely. Being on the 40 man roster at this point does not mean that Green has anything close to the inside track to claim a spot on Opening Day, but it does mean that he will probably get the chance he deserves to compete for a starting or backup role in Spring Training.
Protecting Green was an easy decision, as was adding Ynoa since the club has invested heavily in him financially. But Peterson and Leon are riskier additions. Both have posted nice stats when healthy, but have suffered through injuries. The A’s, however, decided that the future of both players was bright enough to designate veteran pitcher Jim Miller for assignment. Oakland does not get sentimental about players, but it must truly believe in these prospects’ futures to risk an established veteran to keep them around.
Peterson, an outfielder, is perhaps the most intriguing player. After struggling somewhat during 2010 and 2011, Peterson hit .326 with an on-base-percentage of .480 last season in 86 games. Though still limited by injury, he started to show the potential that once made him a second round draft pick.
But no matter his potential, how could Peterson possibly find his way to the majors with the A’s having a crowded outfield and plenty of prospects at that position in the minors? Perhaps he cannot earn a roster spot immediately, but if Green does move back to the infield, Peterson may well become the fifth outfielder in the event of a trade, or the sixth guy waiting at Triple-A. It seems that Oakland has no desire to rush Michael Choice, so Peterson could well get a shot sometime during 2013.
Next season, A’s fans will likely hoping that they do not see any of the rookies that Oakland moved to protect this week, with the exception of Green. After all, if Peterson, Ynoa or Leon makes it to the majors in 2013, multiple players will have drastically underperformed, or there will have been a crippling rash of injuries.
But maybe Peterson finding a backup role could be a good thing. If he can stay healthy and bring the same bat to the majors that he flashed in Triple-A, it could well be that once again an unheralded rookie spurs an anemic Oakland lineup.