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.