The Oakland Athletics currently lead the AL West by 0.5 games over the Texas Rangers. They haven’t made any splashes in the trade market this month, but they just made a substantial move on Sunday evening by promoting Grant Green — one of their top prospects — to the big leagues in an attempt to upgrade their offensive output at second base.
Slotting in Green at second base will give the Athletics the flexibility to shift Jed Lowrie to shortstop on a more permanent basis, allowing the organization to upgrade the offensive production of two positions simultaneously. When Lowrie had been playing shortstop, the Athletics were coping with Eric Sogard (.305 wOBA) and Adam Rosales (.268 wOBA) at second base. Green, who was tearing up Triple-A with a .385 wOBA in 81 games, has a chance to provide better numbers at the plate without being a trainwreck on defense.
For fantasy owners, this move is also significant because Green has the potential to offer a solid average with an outside shot to collect double-digit home runs in the second half. Jim Callis of Baseball America recently wrote Green could legitimately hit .275 with 10-12 home runs through the end of the season, though that was written a couple months ago. Granted, it was also written before Green launched seven home runs in the month of June alone, so perhaps owners shouldn’t be so quick to dramatically decrease those power expectations.
Our own Marc Hulet wrote prior to the season that Grant Green has been the “most consistent hitter in the A’s minor league system” in recent years. He’s also shown the ability to handle both right-handed and left-handed pitching, which is important if he wants to be an everyday player for a contending team down the stretch. This season, he’s hit .306/.362/.484 against righties and .366/.423/.563 against lefties. He showed an even smaller split in 2012 in Triple-A.
In short, Green appears to be a solid, mid-level option at second base in most fantasy formats. He has a chance to hit for a good average, hit for some power and even steal a few bases (he stole 13 bases last year). Owners shouldn’t expect Green to be a game-changer in their lineup, especially since he’ll likely hit near the bottom of the lineup to start, but he represents sneaky value off the waiver wire if an upgrade at second base is needed.
The real question will be centered around playing time for Grant Green. It appears the Athletics are promoting the 25-year-old second baseman to see if he can be the answer down the stretch. He may only get approximately 20 games to prove his worth, though, as the Athletics could opt to seek an upgrade via trade if Green scuffles for his first couple weeks in the big leagues. Since almost anything can happen in a 20-game stretch, there’s a good chance Green struggles and the organization demotes him back to the minors and targets someone like Daniel Murphy, Chase Utley or Rickie Weeks to upgrade their second base position for the second half.
This isn’t similar to the Brad Miller call-up that was discussed a couple weeks ago. The Mariners are in position to give Miller a long leash if he struggles to begin his big-league career, which he largely has, because they’re out of the postseason race. The Athletics, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of weathering an early storm. If Green doesn’t immediately produce, they’ll have to find someone who does.
If you’re an owner desperately seeking an upgrade at second base and are willing to take the chance that Green’s up in the big leagues to stay, absolutely claim him off the waiver wire. He possesses the upside to be a useful fantasy option at second base throughout the remainder of the season. Just be on the lookout for a potential replacement if he struggles because as stated multiple times, it seems he’s unlikely to retain the reins if he stumbles early.
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