This series just looked at Dana Eveland, recently dropped from the A's 40-man roster and traded to Toronto; so now it's only fitting to look at Steve Tolleson, claimed off waivers from Minnesota and recently added to the 40-man.
Before examining anything about Tolleson, I'm going to say I like this move. The A's have zero major-league-ready middle infielders behind big leaguers Cliff Pennington, Mark Ellis, and Adam Rosales, with only Yung-Chi Chen and Corey Wimberly anywhere near the majors. Both are stretched at short and have little or no AAA experience despite being in their mid-twenties.
So Tolleson is an important addition, as he is in between the Ellis/Pennington/Rosales group and the Chen/Wimberly/Jemile Weeks group in terms of readiness.
The A's dropped a player from a position of extreme depth (left-handed pitching) and picked up a player to fill a position of little depth (middle infield).
Even before considering the talent of the players involved, it's hard to not like that move.
So what is Tolleson's talent level, you ask?
Well, he's a middle infielder who has spent nearly a year in Triple-A, hitting .270/.338/.375 in 92 games there last year. He hit an impressive .300/.382/.466 in the pitcher-friendly Double-A Eastern League in 2008.
He's a similar player to Pennington, actually: a small, gritty player with good contact skills and a solid batting eye, but less than 10-homer power.
Tolleson lacks Pennington's switch-hitting (he's a righty) or base-stealing skills (25-for-39 in 2008 and 2009 combined), however.
Defensively, Tolleson can play anywhere but first base, but doesn't stand out anywhere. He's major-league average at second, and is also a solid-average corner outfielder. He can handle short if needed, but is below-average there.
At 26, Tolleson probably will never be a big-league starter anywhere, but looks like he should be a solid utility player, and fills a much-needed void on the A's infield depth chart; the first middle infielder to be called up from Triple-A.
It's not a headline-news move like the Ben Sheets signing, but I like it.