A’s trade Franklin Barreto for All-Star left-handed-hitting infielder from Angels

Franklin Barreto was always a good spring training hitter. He had the tools, flashed that power potential, speed, defensive prowess.

With Barreto in Oakland, there was always potential, but opportunity in Oakland never came. The 24-year-old could get a shot with the Los Angeles Angels. With three days remaining until the Aug. 31 deadline, the A’s traded Barreto late Friday night for left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella, sources confirmed to this news organization. La Stella is on an expiring one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Angels.

In La Stella, the A’s get the left-handed bat this organization needed. The 31-year-old, 2019 All-Star plays three infield positions, second base primarily. In his seven seasons, La Stella has played 208 games at second base, 14 at first and 119 at third.

The A’s have witnessed first hand in 10 games this season already La Stella’s impact in the lineup. When listing the Angels’ new murderer’s row of hitters — Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani — A’s starting pitchers would always mention La Stella (and, David Fletcher, of course) as a tough out.

La Stella is slashing .273/.371/.475 with a .845 OPS and four home runs in 28 games this year. The A’s already have a lefty-hitting second baseman in Tony Kemp, who was platooning with Pinder. La Stella could slide into that lefty platoon role at second base. If struggling designated hitter Khris Davis continues to sit out against right-handed pitching, that could open up the DH spot for Mark Canha or another outfielder. Kemp may play more outfield, or his role could be reduced as switch-hitter Robbie Grossman is irreplaceable in the lineup. The bottom line: the A’s have more options to throw out a more left-handed-heavy lineup against right-handed pitchers.

In trading Barreto, the A’s unclogged a right-handed-heavy middle infield occupied just this June by Jorge Mateo, Barreto, Chad Pinder and Sheldon Neuse. Barreto had an impressive camp, but Pinder’s ability to pick up second base (where he had the least experience), his experience and strong showing offensively earned him a prolonged look the 28-year-old utility player earned over his A’s tenure.

Barreto’s departure signifies the final piece of the 2014 Josh Donaldson transaction between the A’s and Toronto Blue Jays that sent the A’s All-Star third baseman to Toronto for Barreto, infielder Brett Lawrie, pitcher Kendall Graveman and pitcher Sean Nolin.

Barreto flew up the A’s MLB Pipeline lists; in 2017, he topped it.

But, Barreto struggled with his plate discipline, and couldn’t make the right two-strike adjustments.

Barreto, on the Opening Day roster, struggled in the handful of at bats he had this year, chasing anything and everything out of his reach with two strikes against him. He struck out in three pitches a handful of times. He went 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts in 15 games this year.

Manager Bob Melvin and hitting coaches, including assistant hitting coach Eric Martins, have said that Barreto could hit his ceiling with more at bats and a wider margin for error. He finished his A’s career with a .180 average, nine home runs and 27 RBI in 95 career big league games over three seasons.

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Author: Shayna Rubin