Athletics Get Best of Swisher Deal

The Oakland Athletics organization made some key trades in the 2007-08 off-season. A trade with the Chicago White Sox saw the A’s send one of its key offensive cogs north in somewhat of a surprising move. First baseman-outfielder Nick Swisher was traded to The Windy City for disappointing outfielder Ryan Sweeney and top pitching prospects Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos.

Swisher’s trade was a bit of a surprise considering he was a young hitter locked into a reasonable five-year contract that runs through 2011 and includes an option at $10.25 million for 2012. That said, Swisher has struggled this season with the White Sox and is hitting only .228/.343/.386 in 215 at-bats. His slugging percentage is down 70 points from his career average. Maybe the A’s knew something the rest of us did not (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more)? Or maybe he is just having an off year. On the plus side, he’s still walking a lot (14.7 percent) and the club is in first place in its division.

Sweeney, a former second round pick out of high school, was in desperate need of a scenery change – and former Sox teammate Brian Anderson is no doubt envious of his good fortune. Sweeney, 23, is currently hitting .293/.353/.407 in 123 at-bats for his new club. Those obviously are not All-Star numbers but he has been a solid contributor for the organization.

Southpaw Gonzalez, 22, is currently biding his time in Triple-A Sacramento and gives the Athletics excellent starting pitching depth. If the club needed him, he could probably be at least a league average starter right now. Currently, he has a 5.71 ERA in 64.2 innings of work with 74 hits allowed and 35 walks. His numbers are a little skewed after he was roughed up in two of his last four starts for 17 earned runs on 20 hits in 8.2 innings.

De Los Santos, 22, was considered one of the biggest up-and-comers in 2007 after going 10-5 with a 2.65 ERA and 153 strikeouts in 122.1 A-ball innings. But he succumbed to Tommy John surgery after only five High-A ball starts after coming over to the Athletics. Gee… what a surprise. The White Sox organization has never traded (Mike) an injured pitcher (Sirotka) before. Luckily the track record for pitchers returning from the surgery is pretty solid.

Even with the injury, the trade seems to be in Oakland’s favor at this point.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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