If there’s a third baseman who can help A’s fans forgive Oakland’s brass for trading Josh Donaldson, he’s slugging away in Round Rock, Texas.
A luxury they could use as their designated hitter, but one they will more than likely move this season. And the A’s, for all their hard-headedness and misgivings over the last 20 months, have a legitimate shot to nab him.
Oakland’s farm has improved dramatically over the last year. It didn’t hurt that they held a blowout sale during the winter of 2014, and even if they made several raw deals, the A’s are stocked up now.
What’s more, they have exactly what the Rangers need: a third baseman who will be ready for the majors in 2018.
Either Matt Chapman or Renato Nunez could serve as the Rangers’ everyday third baseman when the time is right, and could be packaged with someone like southpaw starting pitcher Dillon Overton. Maybe throw in an outfielder.
That’s certainly a hefty price tag. Overton was a second round pick in 2013, Chapman a first rounder in 2014. And Nunez is among the top 10 third base prospects in all of the minors.
They feel like potential impact guys.
But Gallo is worth it to Oakland — a team who needs young players who are controllable for years, and for pennies on the dollar.
In just 10 games this year, Gallo has hit four homers and sports an OPS of 1.210. He’s knocked in 11 runs, and has 12 hits. One for every three at bats.
Perhaps the most staggering factoid surrounding Gallo is that he’s not even scratching the surface of his talents. He’s 22 years old, and does what most young power hitters do too often: strikeout.
That’s Gallo’s flaw, like nearly every young player, big upside or not. It’s also something he appears to be improving on, though the sample is exceedingly small.
Gallo is the type of player Oakland desperately needs. Someone who truly strikes fear into the man on the mound. Who teams consider walking under any circumstance.
The type of guy Donaldson was for the A’s when it appeared as though it was World Series or bust.
The A’s are approaching a sweet spot with their prospects and their roster. Even better than what they had forming in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Much better, in fact.
A major improvement at first base over what Brandon Moss did, prospect Matt Olson is in the wings. After hitting 37 home runs in high-A — only Gallo and Cubs slugger Kris Bryant had more — Olson moved quickly through the ranks of the A’s farm.
And then, of course, there’s the crown jewel of Oakland’s system.
Franklin Barreto, who was the key to moving Donaldson to Toronto in 2014, is the A’s top prospect according to every notable scouting service. He’s the man.
What peanut butter and duct tape are to a bachelor.
Barreto is expected to be ready for major league ball in 2017, the year Gray first becomes arbitration eligible. It’s tough to know what a shortstop is going to do in the big leagues when he’s only 20, but every expert around consider Barreto a major talent.
And he rounds out what could be for the A’s.
Gallo, though, is a necessary part of this equation. He’s the piece that finally puts a real smile on Stomper’s face. The glue. Gallo is the difference maker, like yeast in a loaf of bread.
Without him, the A’s will just swim in mediocrity despite being close to having what they need to win a championship.
Because Danny Valencia ain’t going to cut it. And there’s plenty to like about Oakland’s current starter at the hot corner.
Third base is a position that has been a strong point of every world series winner over every world series for a long time.
Mike Moustakas for the Royals in 2015. Pablo Sandoval, playing at his peak for the Giants in 2012 and 2014. Xander Bogaerts came through for Boston in 2013, David Freese for the Cardinals in 2011, and Juan Uribe for the Giants in 2010.
Alex Rodriguez for the Yankees in 2009, so on and so forth.
It’s also a position that is in low supply. Once Gallo is acquired by another team — something that seems inevitable if the A’s don’t act — their best shot at winning a title will be years away from now. Maybe after they’ve carried through with their threat to move out of Oakland.
Third base is a position that helps general managers decide whether or not to trade for a top of the line starting pitcher. Or a premium outfielder.
Trading for Gallo is an option that can help right a ship that, for now and into the future, is sailing without a compass. He’s the replacement hose that a 1967 Ford Mustang needs to purr again.
And waiting on the Rangers, dragging their heels and hoping for the best, is a mistake the A’s can’t afford to make.