So the A’s made a minor move today, flipping swingman Drew Pomeranz, minor league pitcher Jose Torres and a PTBNL or cash to the Padres for first baseman Yonder Alonso and left-handed reliever Mark Rzepczynski. I get the impression that Oakland wanted to plug some holes ahead of the winter meetings and San Diego was motivated to squeeze some value out of two players they weren’t planning to tender contracts to today.
My knee-jerk reaction to the deal when the news broke on Twitter was I’d rather see Pomeranz pitching out of the A’s bullpen in 2016 over watching Alonso’s all-leather, no-power routine at first base and Rzepczynski’s attempt to bounce back from a lackluster 2015 season.
In terms of money, Alonso and Rzepczynski are due arbitration raises on their $1.65 million and $2.4 million 2015 salaries compared to Pomeranz’s bump from his $517,500 pay which is all chump change in a world where David Price just agreed to a deal that will pay him more than $30 million a season. The A’s have plenty of payroll flexibility this winter and adding Alonso and Rzepczynski to the books probably won’t have any significant impact on the team’s ability to make any other roster moves between now and Opening Day.
For the moment, the A’s have a slick-fielding platoon first baseman with strong on-base skills and a veteran LOOGY who may be a decent bet to bounce back to the form that made him one of the better left-handed relievers of the past few years. But that could all change very quickly with the way the A’s tend to wheel and deal in the offseason. Give it a month and Alonso and Rzepczynski could be on to new destinations without ever lacing up a pair of white cleats.
Even though I’m mildly annoyed to see Pomeranz go because I thought he could thrive in a full-time relief role in Oakland for a very affordable price, I can easily imagine him plagued by injuries and control problems in San Diego. Of course, the pessimistic, frustrated A’s fan in me can also easily imagine Pomeranz following in the footsteps of Tyson Ross and developing into a stud for the Padres.
But as much as the 2016 roster implications of this trade intrigues me, it’s the long, winding transaction trail that amuses me the most about the Pomeranz-Alonso/Rzepczynski deal. Because you can’t get to today’s move without good old Mark Mulder.
Mulder, a 1998 first-round draft pick and beloved member of the Big Three, was traded to the Cardinals for Dan Haren who was traded to the Diamondbacks for Brett Anderson who was traded to the Rockies for Pomeranz who was just traded for Alonso and Rzepczynski … who will probably be traded one of these days for a few young players who will continue to give the A’s some tangible value for Mulder’s acquisition 17 years ago.
It’s kind of a neat trick to squeeze almost 20 years of roster moves out of one late-’90s draft pick. Sure, that’s about as trivial as it gets but at the moment winding through all the transactions associated with today’s trade is a lot more entertaining than looking at Alonso’s and Rzepczynski’s pedestrian, uninspiring stats from last season.
Despite my tepid initial reaction to seeing Pomeranz dealt to San Diego, I’ll cross my fingers that today’s little trade just netted the A’s a couple of reasonably-priced, key, complementary pieces to an entertaining 2016 club that can be in the playoff hunt in the last couple of months of the season.
At a bare minimum, the A’s snagged a couple of trade chips that can eventually be used to stretch out Mark Mulder’s seemingly neverending impact on the franchise. That’s a halfway decent amount of entertainment value for a minor trade leading into the winter meetings.