Athletics option Daric Barton to Triple-A Sacramento

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Athletics general manager Billy Beane said last October that he felt Daric Barton was the “best first baseman in the league” last season. My how things can change in a hurry.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Barton was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento following tonight’s victory over the Mets. He was presumably sent down to make room for second baseman Mark Ellis, who is expected to return from the disabled list tomorrow.

Barton is batting just .212/.325/.267 with zero homers and 20 RBI over 280 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old entered play Tuesday with the second lowest slugging percentage among qualified batters. Yes, only Chone Figgins is worse. Barton was dropped out of the No. 2 spot by former manager Bob Geren earlier this month and found himself on the bench over the past two games, so this move doesn’t come as a major surprise.

Conor Jackson will likely draw most of the starts at first base for now. The 29-year-old is hitting .258/.350/.321 with one home run, 19 RBI and a .670 OPS over 184 plate appearances this season.

Troy Tulowitzki held a workout for eleven clubs

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Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.

Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.

It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.

Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.