When George Kottaras was designated for assignment Thursday, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin stressed he was going to try to trade Kottaras to a team that could use him in the big leagues. Apparently, it didn’t take long to find a taker, as Saturday news broke that the Brewers are agreeing to trade Kottaras to the Oakland Athletics.
Late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, Susan Slusser of the San Franacisco Chronicle reported that the A’s will be sending 26-year-old reliever Fautino De Los Santos to Milwaukee once the deal is announced.
De Los Santos made his debut with Oakland last season, putting up a 4.32 ERA and an ERA+ of 93 in 33.1 innings. A high strikeout guy out of the bullpen, he racked up 43 Ks while walking 17 last season. This year, he threw three innings with the A’s at the start of the year before being sent to Triple-A Sacramento, where he’s struggled. In terms of stuff, he’s your typical fastball/slider reliever, with a 12 mph difference between the two (94-95 mph to 83 mph). He’s occasionally thrown in a changeup, but according to PITCHf/x, he throws it less than 3% of the time. Before the 2008 season, he was rated the #60 prospect in baseball by Baseball America. That year, he was traded to Oakland from the Chicago White Sox system as part of the Nick Swisher trade.
In seven minor league seasons, De Los Santos is carrying a K/9 of 11.6 and a 3.43 K/BB rate. Like most relievers, he’s going to have his control flare-ups, but acquiring cheap, young, live arms with years of team control is how you build successful bullpens. De Los Santos will be Brewers property through 2018.
Kottaras was DFA’d on Thursday to make room for the returning Jonathan Lucroy. In 2.5 seasons with the Brewers, Kottaras put up a .737 OPS on a .218/.331/.406 line in 409 at-bats. In 2012, Kottaras is hitting .209/.409/.360, slowing down significantly after a hot start to the season. The emergence of Martin Maldonado made Kottaras the odd man out once Lucroy’s broken hand was healed.
While not an impact player — Kottaras compiled a 2.2 fWAR during his time in Milwaukee — he does enough things well to make him an attractive complementary piece for many teams. It’s only fitting that Oakland — a club that has traditionally valued on-base ability more than most — will be Kottaras’ new home. His Three True Outcomes (BB, HR, K) style makes him the prototypical A, and it looks like Billy Beane has his true “Greek God of Walks.”
Oakland has struggled to get offensive production from their catchers for much of the year. Kurt Suzuki, signed through next year with an $8.5 million team option for 2014, is hitting a putrid .213/.247/.273 in 72 games. Catcher Of The Future Derek Norris (acquired in the Gio Gonzalez trade) is also struggling to start his big league career, hitting .205/.275/.342. Both Norris and Suzuki hit right-handed, so at the very least Kottaras could provide a nice platoon option.
Kottaras isn’t expected to make it to Oakland until Monday. Official word on the trade is expected soon, at which point we’ll probably learn where De Los Santos is headed in the Brewers’ system.