Oakland Athletics: 5 Bats to Consider As Trade Deadline Approaches
5 Hitters Who Can Help The Oakland Athletics
Last week I took a look at five pitchers who could help the Oakland Athletics in 2013. Today, I explore five hitters who could help the club's offense as the Athletics pursue back-to-back AL West titles.
The Athletics' most glaring need is in the middle infield, and there are certainly a few guys on scuffling teams around MLB who could boost the team's production from those spots. However, as is often the case during the trade deadline season, the most widely available players tend to be power bats who play the corner outfield positions.
Club GM Billy Beane has a bit of a track record when it comes to dealing for productive corner outfielders. Way back in 2001, Beane picked up Jermaine Dye, who drove in 59 runs in 61 games down the stretch for the Athletics. Right at the deadline in 2003, Beane acquired Jose Guillen. The right fielder contributed eight home runs in 45 games in Oakland.
In July of 2005, Beane traded for veteran outfielder Jay Payton, and that offseason he snagged Milton Bradley.
The long-time Athletics executive also has quite a bit of experience unloading talented outfielders. In 2008, Beane sent Carlos Gonzalez to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Matt Holliday. Then in the summer of 2009, he shipped Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Last year, Beane managed to add shortstop Stephen Drew in exchange for Sean Jamieson, a 24-year-old infielder who is still in Single-A.
Sitting at 51-37, the Athletics are a talented and very deep team. But if Beane thinks he can find a bat that will make this club even better, he'll add it and figure out where that guy fits defensively later.
So here are five hitters who could help the Athletics as they chase the AL West crown.
Raul Ibanez is seemingly eternal. His teammate Nick Franklin was about a year old when Ibanez was drafted by the Seattle Mariners back in 1992. Now in his 18th season, the 41-year-old is an absolute Athletics killer. He also has 21 home runs in 2013, and is a bargain at just $2.75 million.
The 37-year-old Alfonso Soriano has just 10 home runs this year, but he clubbed 32 last season, and has been good for at least 20 in every season going back to 2002. The seven-time All-Star shouldn't cost too much in terms of prospects either as he's due to make $18 million this year, and another $18 million in 2014.
Jeff Keppinger is hitting just .250 for the Chicago White Sox, but the veteran has been heating up as of late as he's batting .364 in his last 10 games. The 33-year-old is a career .284 hitter, and he's defensively versatile as he's seen time at second, third and first in 2013. The downside with the Miami, Florida native is that Keppinger is owed $3.5 million this year, $4 million in 2014 and $4.5 million in 2015.
Gordon Beckham could also be worth a look, but the 26-year-old, who is hitting .328, would obviously come at a much steeper price tag in terms of prospects.
Alex Rios is yet another player on a struggling White Sox team who could be on the block. He's hitting just .184 in his past 10 games and hasn't hit a home run in almost a month, but now could be the time to buy low on the tall right fielder, who swatted 25 home runs, swiped 23 bags and drove in 91 runs in 2012. Perhaps getting thrust into the playoff race could invigorate Rios, who will earn $12.5 million this year and the same amount in 2014. He has a club option for $13.5 million in 2015.
Second baseman Chase Utley has been in decline since 2010 and he hit just 11 home runs last year. However, the 34-year-old already has equaled his total from a season ago. He's also putting up a .868 OPS, which would rank among the top five at his position in all of baseball if he qualified for the league leaders.