Editor's note: The video above is from Feb. 20 -- before the A's traded for Coghlan.
MESA, Ariz. -- The A’s swung a trade Thursday, acquiring utility man Chris Coghlan from the Chicago Cubs for right-hander Aaron Brooks.
The A’s view Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year with the Marlins, as a “(Ben) Zobrist-type guy” according to general manager David Forst. The left-handed hitting Coghlan batted .250 with 16 home runs and 41 RBI for Chicago last season. He’s played the majority of his big league games in left field, but has also seen time at the other two outfield spots as well as second base, third base and first base.
Much like other acquisitions of recent years, the A’s acquired a player for his versatility and will worry about where to plug him in later. But it’s clear that Oakland sees him as an instrumental player, with Forst mentioning Coghlan’s power, high contact rate, penchant for taking walks and his ability to steal a base.
“When Bob (Melvin) has options in the lineup, the ability to move guys around and change the lineup, is when our team really works the best,” Forst said. “As we’ve said about a couple guys this offseason, he’ll find a way to get at-bats. We’ve only got a handful of guys who are gonna play in one spot every day. You think about Marcus, to some extent Danny (Valencia) and Jed (Lowrie) will be in their spots. But particularly with Chris now, he’ll move around. Center field is a good option depending on the health of other guys.”
A few things can be gleaned in the aftermath of this deal:
One, the A’s aren’t fully sold on Coco Crisp being a healthy contributor. If they were, there wouldn’t be a need for Coghlan as a center field possibility.
Two, the A’s have a roster crunch that makes for some interesting decisions between now and the April 4 season opener. Coghlan’s ability to play all over the infield could mean a trade of Eric Sogard (though Sogard has minor league options left). It could make a player like Sam Fuld expendable, though Fuld (who is out of options) could be on the outside looking in anyway regarding the 25-man roster.
Asked about Sogard’s status, manager Bob Melvin said: “It hasn’t affected anything yet until we get to the end (of spring) and see where all the pieces fit.”
Unprompted, Melvin added: “If I remember right, there have been years where it didn’t look like Sogie fits and he ends up with us.”
[STIGLICH: A's spring training Day 4: Who fits where in bullpen?]
Or it could mean another more unexpected move that could create an opening and relieve the logjam. The A’s reportedly have at least entertained the thought of trading designated hitter Billy Butler, who has two years and $20 million remaining on his contract. Figure the A’s would have to eat a large portion of that to get a team to bite on a deal. There’s always the possibility that an injury or two clears some roster space too.
Three, the A’s feel pretty good about the state of their starting pitching in order to part with Brooks. Early in camp, Jesse Hahn and Kendall Graveman appear healthy coming off injuries last season. Jarrod Parker may eventually be an option if his health holds up (he threw off the mound in his second bullpen session of camp Thursday), and by May the A’s expect to have Henderson Alvarez back from a shoulder injury.
“If you assume Jesse and Jarrod are options health-wise,” Forst said, “we know that we have Henderson coming back. At some point (top pitching prospect) Sean Manaea is gonna be on the radar. You can never have too much pitching, but that depth is a little bit of an area of strength for us.”