Although the Oakland A's still lead the American League in runs scored, the team has looked hapless at the plate during the month of August. The A's recent offensive slide has put the team four games back in the American League West and in a position where they need to worry about their spot in the wild card standings.
Recent injuries to key offensive players such as Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and John Jaso have undoubtedly contributed to the slide. However, the A's have also struggled to replace the game-changing power that they lost when they traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for left-hander Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes.
It is with that in mind that the A's traded for Dunn, who has 20 homeruns this season and 460 in his career. Dunn is a three-true-outcomes kind of player: he is batting .220 with 65 walks and 132 strike-outs this season for the Chicago White Sox. However, his presence either as the DH or a late-game pinch-hitter will give the A's some punch that they have desperately needed during their recent slide.
Dunn, who is owed roughly $2.5 million on his contract this season, was acquired along with cash considerations for right-handed relief prospect Nolan Sanburn. Sanburn was a second-round pick of the A's in 2012 and he has had a strong season in the High-A Stockton Ports' bullpen.
In 71.1 innings this season, Sanburn has a 3.28 ERA and 73:25 K:BB. The Arkansas alum missed the first half of last season with arm problems, but he has been completely healthy this season. He has a starting pitcher's repertoire, but his high-energy approach on the mound has worked better out of the bullpen. Provided he remains in the bullpen with the White Sox, Sanburn could be a factor for Chicago by late 2015 or early 2016. 2014 pick Brendan McCurry will replace Sanburn in Stockton for the playoffs. McCurry has been nearly unhittable for Beloit this year.
Dunn is expected to join the A's in Oakland on Monday when rosters expand to 40. He should take over the team's DH duties versus right-handed pitching (likely platooning with Gomes) and serve as a late-game pinch-hitting option. Dunn has never played in the post-season during his 15-year career. The A's are four games out of the lead in the American League West going into their Sunday game versus the first-place Los Angeles Angels, but they have a four game lead in the Wild Card race over the Tigers and Royals (who are currently tied for the second spot and first-place in the Central) and 5.5 game lead over the Mariners for the last spot.
In addition to adding Dunn to the roster tomorrow, the A's should call-up first baseman Nate Freiman (who homered and had three hits for Low-A Beloit on Saturday), left-hander Drew Pomeranz and likely another reliever and outfielder (perhaps Fernando Rodriguez and Billy Burns). Lowrie made his rehab debut with Sacramento on Saturday and could return to Oakland on Monday, as well.