On Dec. 3, the Oakland A’s traded their prized outfield prospect, Michael Choice, to the Texas Rangers, along with second baseman Chris Bostick, for Craig Gentry and Josh Lindblom. This was a move that the A’s clearly made with a win-now mentality in mind, as Choice’s potential inarguably surpasses Gentry’s current ability, while Gentry is the more experienced player.
Choice, currently MLB.com's 91st-ranked prospect, was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft. He batted .302 in 600 plate appearances at Triple-A last season.
Despite Choice's potential, Gentry is the more polished player right now. Choice has shown a propensity to strike out, a lot. He has 382 K's in 371 career minor league games, despite his solid eye at the plate (.390 OBP in 2013).
Gentry provides value primarily through his defense, as he ranked 10th among center fielders in UZR in 2013, according to Fangraphs. He can also handle the bat, posting a .280 batting average in 2013 after hitting .304 in 2012.
Choice has a couple of major advantages over Gentry, however. He has yet to show it at the major league level, but he certainly has the potential to reach base at a much better rate. Choice owns a .376 career OBP in the minors, including .390 last season.
Choice's major advantage, however, lies in his power. Gentry has four career home runs in 763 plate appearances, while Choice has tons of pop. In 2011, he hit 30 home runs in 467 at-bats in the minors, and he hit a respectable 14 in 132 games in 2013.
Gentry may be the more polished player, but Choice is major league ready, according to Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks.
Choice was one of the Athletics’ best prospects, a claim indicated by both his high ranking by MLB.com and his stats in the minor leagues. He also fits the mold of the typical A's player, reaching base at a high rate.
In short, this trade is a bit puzzling on the Athletics’ part. They traded away a top prospect who was nearly ready for the major leagues for another outfielder who, while owning a couple of years of big league experience, has a limited ceiling.
The other pieces of the trade don’t add much clarity, either. Bostick had a breakout season in 2013 (.282 BA, 89 RBI in Single-A), while Lindblom's ERA in 2012 and 2013 was 4.63 and 5.46, respectively.
Throughout the years, however, we have learned not to question Billy Beane’s tactics. Perhaps, he knows something we don't; he tends to always be one step ahead of the game.