Today came a trade that will likely be unheralded in most circles, but caught my eye for having one of my favorite baseball players involved: Yonder Alonso.
Once the best college hitter in his draft class, the former Cuban emigree was dealt from the Reds to the Padres after peaking at No. 33 on Baseball America's prospect list in 2011. The in-game power never really came along for him, and playing in Petco certainly hasn't helped, but he can hit to all fields and typically scores well in defense at first base.
Accordingly, he's been on my radar as a James Loney lite, should the Rays ever need him. Given James Loney's league average 97 wRC+ vs RHP's in 2015, Alonso's even an upgrade if he could be had, but he's unfortunately now on the move.
A's/Padres close to a deal that would send Yonder Alonso and Mark Rzepczynski to Oakland for Drew Pomeranz and LHP Jose Torres— keithlaw (@keithlaw) December 2, 2015
His trade likely means Wil Myers can finally transition from center field to first base in San Diego, but creates some competition in Oakland.
The non-tender deadline is tonight at midnight, and the Athletics already have a similar player in Ike Davis, who had a putrid 2015 but has a career line closer to his 2014 performance. You can see his 2014 in the table below, but Davis sported a mere 85 wRC+ against RHP's in 2015, but that only lowers his career to a 122 wRC+ against righties.
Upgrading the offense against right handed pitchers has been on the Rays radar this off-season, so this all has my attention. The Rays need to replace a quality bat in John Jaso, but have only done so mildly in the Logan Morrison acquisition. Here's how both of their 2015 seasons vs RHP stack up, with 2014 performances from Ike Davis and James Loney for comparison.
I would think it's likely that the Athletics front office acquired Alonso to non-tender Davis, but it's possible they decide otherwise, choosing to keep both, waiting to trading one later, or even cutting Alonso loose tonight.
Either way, if we can anticipate Davis's career line vs RHP to be more real than his performance last season, he would be an upgrade over Morrison and close to Loney from his quality 2014. If it's Alonso that's available, he's a slight upgrade over Morrison, but only in that he exchanges power for less K's.
It's an interesting mix of similar hitters that are dancing between Oakland and Tampa Bay in my mind, with Jaso now a free agent after time in both locations. He and Loney are the expensive pair, with Loney still under contract for $8M. Morrison and Davis have one year left on their rookie contracts, Alonso has two.
Among them, Loney and Alonso are the only ones to grade well on defense at a high level. That's the swap I might be looking for if I were running the Rays.