A’s acquire Kila Ka’aihue from Royals for Ethan Hollingsworth

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Last week the Royals designated Kila Ka’aihue for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster, and today they traded the 27-year-old first baseman to the A’s for minor-league pitcher Ethan Hollingsworth.

Ka’aihue’s track record in the minors is good enough and lengthy enough that he deserved a longer opportunity in the majors, but he flopped in a few brief stints with the Royals and career minor leaguers without any defensive skills tend to get fewer chances than their raw numbers warrant.

Oakland hasn’t pursued as many no-glove, good-hit minor leaguers in recent years, but back in the “Moneyball” days Ka’aihue was exactly the type of player Billy Beane and the A’s often took chances on. He’s hit .281 with a .412 on-base percentage and .497 slugging percentage in 353 career games at Triple-A.

Hollingsworth split this season between Double-A and Triple-A, throwing 105 innings with a 3.76 ERA and 73/27 K/BB ratio as a 24-year-old starter. He was the Rockies’ fourth-round draft pick in 2008 and came to the A’s in a deal for Clayton Mortensen last winter.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves