The Oakland A’s traded first baseman Yonder Alonso to the Mariners on Sunday, the team reported. In exchange, Seattle sent back outfield prospect Boog Powell.
Although the July 31 trade deadline has passed, teams can still deal players if they first pass through waivers. Alonso was claimed by the Mariners when the A’s tried to pass him through, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, and Oakland chose to work out a swap rather than pulling him back and keeping him the rest of the year.
Alonso is in the middle of the best season of his career. His 22 homers are more than twice his career-high, his 140 wRC+ is 17th in the entire sport, and he earned his first All-Star bid. But the 30-year-old is a free agent at the end of the year, and the A’s cashed in on his trade value before his contract expired.
Alonso, 2017: .266/.369/.527, 140 wRC+, 22 HR, 13.5% BB, 23.7% Ks, 1.8 WAR*
* average of 2.1 fWAR and 1.5 bWAR
Meanwhile, Oakland re-acquired outfielder Boog Powell. The A’s drafted him in the 20th round in 2012 and watched him develop into a legit prospect, but sent him to Tampa Bay in the trade for Ben Zobrist. He later moved to the Mariners in another deal, and in April he made his MLB debut for Seattle. Through three stints in the bigs this year, he’s played in 23 games and posted a .504 OPS in 43 plate appearances. His Triple-A numbers give a better idea of his skill set, though: contact, plate discipline, and speed.
Powell, 2017 AAA: .340/.416/.490, 137 wRC+, 6 HR, 11 SB, 11.7% BB, 11.3% Ks
Powell has played mostly CF in the minors, though this year he’s also spent time on the corners. It appears he’s accrued enough service time to technically graduate from prospect status, but here’s his 2016 scouting report from MLB Pipeline:
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 60 | Arm: 40 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Powell was in the midst of breakout season in 2014 when he received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for amphetamines. … In June , Powell received another suspension, this time for 80 games, after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Powell draws praise for his all-out playing style as well as his ability to play bigger than his size and his tools, though that’s not to say he doesn’t have physical ability. He has above-average speed and defensive chops in center field, though he saw time in all three outfield spots in 2015.
Powell sees a lot of pitches and knows how to work counts, which has helped him accrue nearly as many walks as strikeouts in his career. He doesn’t hit for much power, save for some doubles and triples, but the bat-to-ball skills are advanced and yield hard contact across the entire field. Powell has a chance to develop into a big league regular, perhaps even a No. 2 type catalyst in the lineup, but if not, he still has a high floor as a fourth outfielder.
Between this trade a couple hours before a day game, and the current suspension of Matt Joyce, the A’s will likely go on Sunday with just 23 players. The smart bet, as implied by Slusser, would be that Matt Olson will arrive now that an everyday role has opened up.
Farewell, Yonder! We’ll miss you, your great attitude, and your dingers. Enjoy your reunion with best friend Danny Valencia in Seattle! For anyone who was hoping Oakland would re-sign Alonso over the offseason, remember that nothing about this trade precludes that future possibility. After all, they once dealt Rickey at the deadline and then brought him back the next year, and the Yankees pulled that same trick with Aroldis Chapman just last winter.
Ray Fosse strolls by, says “They got Boog Powell? I played with him in Cleveland!”
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) August 6, 2017