Athletics top prospect Franklin Barreto is due for a promotion from Triple-A Nashville, per a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle on Saturday. In a corresponding move, utility infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder will be assigned to the 10-day disabled list with a hyperextended left knee. The club has yet to confirm either move.
Barreto, 22, was ranked no. 3 in the A’s farm system prior to the start of the 2018 season. He debuted with the team in 2017 and finished his brief run in the big leagues with an underwhelming .197/.250/.352 batting line and two home runs in 76 plate appearances. While he has yet to find his footing in the majors, the rookie middle infielder has long impressed the team at the minor league level. He reached Triple-A by his age-20 season and slashed .290/.339/.456 with seven homers, 15 stolen bases and a .796 OPS during a full campaign in Triple-A Nashville last year.
Barring further injuries, it seems unlikely that the A’s will have a full-time role for Barreto after he’s called up, though he projects to be their sole backup behind middle infielders Jed Lowrie and Marcus Semien. He went 2-for-4 in his Triple-A season debut last week with a double and two-run homer during a historic 11-0 shutout against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.