Trade Analysis: A's Acquire Dominguez

Freddie Bynum and John Rheinecker have been on the outside looking in for what seems like five years running with the A's. Both players will be given a chance to break through to the major leagues with different teams after Oakland dealt the utilityman and the left-handed starter on Friday in a three-team deal for right-hander starter Juan Dominguez. We give our analysis inside…

Trade Details: In a three-team trade, the Oakland A's dealt utilityman Freddie Bynum and starting pitcher John Rheinecker, the Texas Rangers dealt starting pitcher Juan Dominguez and the Chicago Cubs dealt starting pitcher John Koronka. Koronka and Rheinecker went to Texas, Bynum went to Chicago and Dominguez when to Oakland.

Overview

For the fourth time since 2002 (and the second time this week), the Oakland A's traded a blocked minor league player for a potential major league pitcher. In 2002, the A's dealt reliever Luis Vizcaino to the Texas Rangers for Justin Duchscherer. Vizcaino had been on the verge of breaking through into the A's bullpen for years before he was dealt. Duchscherer would quickly establish himself as a legitimate pitching prospect, winning the PCL Pitcher of the Year award in 2003. He was the best A's reliever in 2004, and he was the A's only All-Star representative in 2005.

In 2004, the A's dealt reliever Chad Harville (who, like Vizcaino, had failed to establish himself in the A's bullpen for a number of years) to the Houston Astros for pitcher Kirk Saarloos. Saarloos quickly became a valuable member of the A's organization, filling in for an injured Tim Hudson in 2004 and becoming a 10-game winner as a fifth starter for the A's in 2005. Saarloos is expected to be an important part of the A's bullpen in 2006.

Earlier in the week, Oakland dealt pitcher Juan Cruz (who, despite a major league roster of pitches, was slated to be in AAA for the indefinite future with the A's) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Brad Halsey, who had been Arizona's fifth starter in 2005. On Friday, the A's traded two prospects who were stuck in the minors for many years (John Rheinecker and Freddie Bynum) for former Texas Rangers' fifth starter Juan Dominguez.

Dominguez Background

Dominguez is a talented right-hander who was expected to be the Rangers' fifth starter before he clashed with Texas manager Buck Showalter at the start of camp and fell out of favor. Dominguez's stint with Texas has been replete with controversy and injury, but no one doubts his talents. Dominguez went 4-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 22 major league appearances (11 starts) for Texas in 2005. He went 4-1 in 22 minor league appearances (nine starts) in 2005. He has a career 5-8 record with a 4.15 ERA in 26 major league appearances and a career 19-5 record with a 3.00 ERA in 62 minor league appearances.

Dominguez frequently clashed with the Rangers' organization. In 2005, he went AWOL after being sent down to the minor leagues. Then this season, Dominguez showed up to the Rangers' mini-camp late and 15 pounds over-weight. Dominguez has had knee, shoulder and back problems at various points during his career.

The right-hander had an excellent start against the A's during Oakland's pennant run, allowing only two runs in 7.1 innings on September 25. The A's knocked Dominguez around earlier that month, scoring eight runs (five earned) in 3.1 innings on September 9.

Dominguez has a good fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s, an average slider and a plus change-up. He has both major league and minor league experience in the starting rotation and in the bullpen. Dominguez will turn 26 in May.

Analysis

In some ways, Dominguez and Halsey are replacing the departed Cruz and Rheinecker on the A's AAA pitching staff. Dominguez and Cruz are both talented but sometimes troubled right-handed pitchers who have proved the ability at times to get out major league hitters with ease. Cruz has a better fastball, but Dominguez has a better grasp of his secondary pitches. Dominguez also has better control, having walked only 25 batters in 45 innings in the majors last season.

Halsey and Rheinecker are similar in that they are left-handed, but they are very different pitchers. Rheinecker is a former first round pick who, at one time, had stuff that pundits thought was good enough to make him a top of the rotation starter. However, he was never able to break-through at the AAA level and he was slated to start his fourth season of AAA baseball in 2006.

Halsey, on the other hand, doesn't have top of the rotation stuff, but he has been able to utilize his talents effectively. He was one of the New York Yankees' most successful minor league pitchers when he made his big league debut in 2004. He was traded to Arizona in the off-season before the 2005 season and he spent the year as the Diamondbacks' fifth starter, going 8-12 in the process.

Bynum is really the only player the A's have traded this week that they didn't receive a comparable player for in return. The former 2000 A's top pick took a long time to get through the system, but he appeared to be growing into his own this season. Bynum doesn't project to be anything more than a super-utilityman in the major leagues, but he should provide some speed and versatility to the Chicago Cubs bench. The A's had no room for Bynum – who was out of options – because they improved their bench this off-season with the acquisition of Antonio Perez and the additions of Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas (both of whom pushed Bobby Kielty and Jay Payton to the bench).

On the surface, it appears that the A's have not gained or lost anything from these two transactions. They have given themselves a little more roster flexibility by adding Dominguez and Halsey, who have more options left than Cruz or Halsey. AAA-Sacramento will have quite a rotation to start 2006. Three members of the rotation have significant major league time (Chad Gaudin, Dominguez and Halsey) and the other two were recently in the A's top-10 prospect lists (Dan Meyer and Shane Komine).


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