Should the Oakland Athletics Trade Justin Duchscherer?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 24:  Pitcher Justin Duchscherer #58 of the Oakland A's delivers a pitch during a game against the Boston Red Sox on May 24, 2008 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California. The As won 3-0.  (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)

Yesterday, ESPN baseball writer Buster Olney outlined why Justin Duchscherer should be an attractive alternate for teams looking for a top flight starting pitcher.

"Pitcher B is Justin Duchscherer. Those are his numbers from 2008. He has not pitched in 2009 after undergoing an elbow cleanup, but he is set to begin his minor league rehabilitation assignment and could be ready to pitch in the big leagues within a couple of weeks. The right-hander will be eligible for free agency this fall, and with Oakland in the process of trading off usable parts Duchscherer could be an intriguing alternative for teams that are looking for pitching help.

He has been often hurt in his career, but when Duchscherer is active and pitching, he usually fares pretty well, whether as a starter or a reliever. The 31-year-old has had four seasons of 55.2 or more innings, and his ERA has never been higher than 3.27 in those seasons. Twice he has made All-Star teams: once as a reliever, and once as a starting pitcher, most recently in 2008."

All that information is well and good, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why the Athletics would want to trade Duchscherer right now. Sure, Duchscherer is a free agent at the end of the season, but can the Athletics really get anything meaningful for Duchscherer at this point?

Here is a guy who has not pitched at all this season and at the age of 31, represents nothing more than a gamble for a contending team? Why would any GM give up a meaningful player for Duchscherer?

There is simply not enough time left before the deadline for Duchscherer to regain his ace status and shed the label that he is an injury proned . From the Athletics perspective, trading Duchscherer offers a very limited potential for a valuable return.

It's unfortunate for the Athletics because if Duchscherer was able to make a few quality starts before the break, the potential return on Duchscherer would have been much higher. At that point, it might have actually made sense for the Athletics to trade him.

I honestly think the best way that Duchscherer can help the Athletics this season is for him to take some pressure of their young starting rotation and overworked bullpen (most IP in AL).


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