The Oakland A's made some changes to their 40-man roster on Thursday, acquiring utilityman Jake Elmore and designating infielder Andy Parrino for assignment. The A's will owe the Chicago White Sox cash considerations.
Elmore has been on the move a lot over the past few seasons. A 2008 draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks out of Arizona State, Elmore remained in the Arizona organization until the off-season between the 2012 and 2013 seasons, when he was claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros. After one season in the Astros' organization, Elmore was claimed off waivers in November by the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox designated Elmore for assignment earlier this week and he was acquired by the A's.
It is easy to see what the A's like about Elmore. Like so many of the A's recent acquisitions, Elmore doesn't strike-out very much and he can play all over the field. In fact, Elmore made history last season with the Astros, becoming one of the few players in MLB history to play all nine positions in the same game. His minor league OBP is .387 and he has a 304:303 BB:K in 594 career minor league games.
Elmore is a natural second baseman who has also played a lot of shortstop during his professional career. He has also logged time at third and in all three outfield spots. He has one major league pitching appearance and four in the minor leagues and Elmore has caught in one major league and one minor league game.
Elmore didn't have a traditional path to the pros. He played two years at a community college in Alabama and he heard his name called in the 48th round of the 2007 draft. Elmore elected to turn down the Florida Marlins' offer that year to attend Arizona State. He didn't play much for the Sun Devils in 2008, collecting only 45 at-bats in 43 games played. Despite that rough season at ASU, Elmore heard his name called in the draft again in 2008, this time by the Arizona Diamondbacks in round 34.
After signing with Arizona, Elmore was assigned to Missoula of the Rookie-level Pioneer League. He had a strong season for Missoula, posting an 853 OPS. That earned him a promotion to Low-A South Bend in 2009. Elmore's numbers took a dip with South Bend in the tough Midwest League, as he posted only a 716 OPS. However, he did have a 61:55 BB:K in 118 games.
Going into the 2010 season, it wasn't clear where Elmore fit in the plans for the Diamondbacks' organization. Elmore told the Arizona Republic in a 2012 article that the D-Backs were considering cutting him that spring. However, after several other moves were made in different levels of the organization, Elmore landed a spot on the Double-A Mobile roster for 2010. He held his own with the Bay Bears, posting a 719 OPS with a 58:56 BB:K.
Elmore repeated the Double-A level in 2011, and he was teammates with current A's stars Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook in Mobile that season. Elmore's numbers with the Bay Bears were pretty similar in 2011. He posted a 711 OPS with a 54:65 BB:K.
The next season Elmore finally landed on the Triple-A Reno roster, and it was in the friendly hitting confines of the Pacific Coast League that he really shined. Elmore challenged for the minor league hitting crown in 2012, posting a .344 average for the Aces. His 908 OPS that season was a career-high by quite a bit. His OBP was a .442 and he had a 74:54 BB:K. That performance earned Elmore a chance at the major-league level in 2012. He appeared in 30 games with the D-Backs, collecting 13 hits in 68 at-bats. Despite his performance in Triple-A in 2012, Elmore was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks that off-season and he was claimed by the Astros.
Elmore split the 2013 season between Houston and Triple-A Oklahoma City. With the RedHawks (where he was managed by former A's minor league manager and major league base coach Tony DeFrancesco), Elmore continued to prove he could hit PCL pitching. He posted an 815 OPS in 70 games. His BB:K was 31:37. Elmore spent most of the second half of the season at the big-league level with Houston. In 52 games, Elmore hit .242/.313/.325 with a 13:20 BB:K.
Although he doesn't have his speed, Elmore is a similar hitter to Billy Burns, who the A's acquired from Washington over the off-season. Like Burns, Elmore doesn't try to do too much at the plate, using above-average contact skills to spray the ball around the field and a good eye to work his way on-base. Also like Burns, Elmore isn't a big threat to hit homeruns, although Elmore has more power than Burns.
Elmore will replace Parrino on the A's 40-man roster and on the A's infield depth chart. Parrino was far-and-away the best defensive shortstop in the upper-levels of the A's system, and Elmore doesn't carry the same quality glove that Parrino does. Elmore provides the same defensive flexibility as Parrino, who can play all over the infield and outfield. Elmore can catch in a pinch, something that Parrino has never been asked to do.
On the bases, Elmore has swiped a decent number of bases in his minor league career (110 in 593 games), but he has also been caught at a fairly high clip. He has only one successful stolen base attempt in seven opportunities in the big leagues.
Parrino will be exposed to waivers and if he isn't claimed, he could return to the A's as a non-roster player. He has shined with the glove since joining the A's organization before the 2013 season, but Parrino has struggled with the bat, hitting only .118 in 14 games with the A's and .210 in 108 games with Sacramento.
From a depth perspective, the A's haven't changed their roster by a lot with the switch from Parrino to Elmore. Unless there is an injury, Elmore isn't any more likely to break camp with the A's than Parrino was, as the A's infield is pretty much set with Josh Donaldson, Jed Lowrie, Eric Sogard, Nick Punto, Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Moss. The battle for a spot backing up Moss is probably the only outstanding position battle on the A's infield, barring injury. However, should there be an injury, Elmore would represent a better offensive option off the A's bench than Parrino. Both Elmore and Parrino have options remaining.
With several players in A's camp out of options, the A's are likely to make more moves by the end of spring training.