Oakland Athletics: Jace Peterson, Sam Moll find new homes through trades

The Oakland Athletics are currently the worst team in baseball, making them obvious sellers before tonight’s trade deadline. Without much to offer to contending teams, Oakland seems to have settled on trading marginal pieces for lottery ticket minor league prospects. The two trades made on Monday could end up as a coup for Oakland.

Recapping the first two trades for the Oakland Athletics

Jace Peterson sent to Arizona for former top five round pick

Hours after sending their own super-utility player Josh Rojas to Seattle, Arizona acquired a similar type of player in Jace Peterson, along with some cash, from Oakland. The veteran Peterson has not provided much in the way of offensive value, but he is an above-average defender at a couple of positions, and has played every position except catcher in his big league career.

Peterson ranks in the 80th percentile of Baseball Savant’s Outs Above Average, mainly playing third base and second base this season. In exchange, Oakland received Chad Patrick, a Double-A pitcher who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. Patrick is not considered an elite prospect, but offers strong command of an average pitch mix. While sitting about 92 mph, Patrick has pitched to a 4.71 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 91.2 innings. The 24-year-old righty has thus far been developed as a starter, and does not need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft until after the 2024 season.

While not exactly a spectacular prospect, it does not take much imagination to project Patrick as a fifth or sixth starter. Perhaps a velocity boost is waiting a move to the bullpen, where Patrick can become a swingman-type on the next contending Oakland Athletics‘ team. At worst, Patrick is a likely big leaguer, albeit in a small role, or as a spot starter during his option years. There have been worse moves made.

Sam Moll to Cincinnati for flamethrower

Sam Moll has been fine for Oakland this season, posting a 4.54 ERA in 37.2 innings out of the bullpen. But, at 31 years old, it is unlikely Moll would play a key role on the next good Oakland team, so the veteran was traded to Cincinnati for Joe Boyle and international bonus pool money.

If Boyle’s name sounds familiar, it is because of his notoriety as an amatuer prospect, when he was throwing triple-digit fastballs at Notre Dame. The strength of that fastball made him Cincinnati’s fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Unfortunately, Boyle has long struggled to throw strikes, making him an exciting but frustrating prospect.

Consider Boyle’s walk rate for a minute. This season at Double-A, Boyle is walking 19.4 percent of batters faced, which is actually a career low rate for Boyle. The MLB average is just 8.4 percent. Yikes. Still, 100 mph fastballs do not grow on trees, and Boyle has two strong secondary offerings to go along with it. Even developing 30-grade control would allow Boyle to be fashion a long career in big league bullpens. As Kyle Boddy, former Reds Director of Pitching, mentioned on Twitter, Boyle will either throw enough strikes to make a roster, or he will not.

Now, if Boyle does develop even a shred of command, he could become a lights out reliever immediately. Oakland has recently struggled to develop pitching, so taking a chance on a potential impact talent is necessary in their rebuild. A key point to remember here is Boyle has been sent out as a starter in his minor league career.

While we should not expect his command to be anywhere near average upon a move to relief, there is a chance for a slight improvement in short stints. This could be a lottery ticket that pays dividends to Oakland in the future.