Billy Beane and company pulled off a major trade Saturday morning acquiring super-utility man Ben Zoberist and SS Yunel Escobar from the Tampa Bay Rays. For Zobrist and Escobar, the A’s gave up two of their best prospects in SS Daniel Robertson and OF Boog Powell, along with big league catcher John Jaso.
That means that in less than 6 months, Beane has traded away two of the league’s best shortstop prospects. Addison Russel, referred to as a can’t miss mega-prospect, was dealt away in the trade that brought the A’s Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. After the Russell trade, many saw it as a sign that the Athletics were committing to Robertson, who was drafted the same year and round as Russel. Prior to the Samardzija trade, it was expected that Robertson would need to change positions to third base as Russell would hold down the shortstop duties. Now that both prospects are gone with Escobar only being under contract until 2016 with a team option for 2017, the A’s will have a new shortstop of the future.
One option is Marcus Semien, who was acquired in the Jeff Samardzija trade (White Sox). He was expected to start at short for Oakland in 2015 but will now be used as a utility man off the bench similar to the way Zobrist did when he first broke through with the Rays. However, the more probable answer for the future at shortstop is Franklin Barreto, who was also acquired this offseason in the trade that sent All-Star Josh Donaldson to Toronto. While Barreto was not the centerpiece of the trade, Blue Jays fans will probably tell you he is the player that will be missed the most.
The 18-year-old shortstop prospect hit .311 in Class-A Vancouver with a .384 OBP. He stole 29 bases in just 73 games, more that anyone stole on the A’s big league roster in 2014. Over a full season, he would be on-track to steal 60 bases. He has also shown to have some pop in his bat, hitting 6 homeruns and hitting 61 RBIs. That means he has the potential to hit around 15 HRs and 100 RBIs in a full season league. However, Barreto will not probably not be ready until the 2019 season, meaning the A’s will need to rely on other options until then.
If Barreto performs well in the A’s farm system, Beane will likely keep him as the shortstop of the future. This opens up the idea that Beane could deal away Escobar or Semien in the future. For now, Beane enjoys having the option of many quality shortstops in his organization while Barreto takes the spot as the new A’s top prospect. This trade also completed a retool of the Athletics entire infield now consisting of Brett Lawrie, Zobrist, Escobar, and Billy Butler.