Transaction Analysis: Sellers vs. Wimberly

Last week, the Oakland A's made two transactions involving minor league infielders, trading Justin Sellers to the Chicago Cubs and acquiring Corey Wimberly from the Colorado Rockies. We take a look at what the A's lost and what they gained in these transactions.

In some ways, Justin Sellers and Corey Wimberly are similar players. Both are 2005 sixth-round draft picks and middle infielders by trade who can play all over the infield, with the exception of first base. Neither is particularly large or powerful and both use a combination of good bat control, speed and the ability to find the gaps to get on-base. However, once you move past those characteristics, that is where the similarities end.

Sellers was acquired by the A's in the sixth round of the 2005 draft out of a Southern California high school. Although he was only 19 at the time of the draft, Sellers was considered relatively polished for a high school player and he was sent to short-season Vancouver after signing, where he competed against mostly college draft picks. He held his own, batting .274 with a .369 OBP. Since that time, Sellers made a gradual, but consistent climb up through the A's organization. In 2006, he was with Low-A Kane County; in 2007, he was with High-A Stockton until the final few weeks of the season, when he was promoted to Double-A Midland. He would spend the entire 2008 season with Midland. At age 22, Sellers was one of the younger position players in the Texas League. Sellers has been a bit of an iron man during his professional career, appearing in 417 games in three-and-a-half seasons.

Wimberly, on the other hand, has always been on the older side for his level of competition. An accomplished collegiate player with Alcorn State, Wimberley was selected 14 picks ahead of Sellers in 2005. Wimberly was 21 at the time he was drafted and he turned 22 in October 2005. He began his professional career in the Rookie-level Pioneer League, where he blistered opposing pitching to the tune of a .381 average. He skipped over the Low-A level the next season and went directly to High-A Modesto, where he hit .325 for the Nuts. Wimberly was promoted to Double-A in 2007, but he hit only .268 and was forced to repeat the league at age 24 in 2008. He rebounded to hit .291 in 2008. Wimberly has had some trouble staying healthy throughout his career, appearing in 354 games over three-and-a-half seasons.

Sellers' career batting average is .256 and he sports a respectable .343 on-base percentage. He has always competed against pitchers that are older than him. His forte as a player is his defense, however. He is an above-average fielder at both second base and at his natural shortstop spot. Sellers is also an excellent bunter and has decent speed, although with the A's, he was rarely allowed to use it (48 stolen bases in his career).

Wimberly is a jack-of-all trades defensively, but his forte as a player is at the plate and on the base-paths. He is a career .312 hitter and he has stolen 181 bases in 354 games while being caught only 54 times. He led the Texas League in stolen bases in 2008. He is also a switch-hitter, whereas Sellers is strictly a right-handed hitter (although he has flirted with the idea of becoming a switch-hitter in the past). The biggest knocks on Wimberly have always been in relation to his defensive skills (he is average to below-average with the glove at all of the positions he plays at) and his age relative to his league (he will be 25 all of next season).

In 2006, Wimberly terrorized A's minor league pitching by hitting .355 against the Stockton Ports as a member of the Modesto Nuts. He scored 17 runs against Stockton that season, the most for any opposing player. Stockton Ports' broadcaster Zack Bayrouty remembers Wimberly vividly from that season.

"When Wimberly was with Modesto in 2006, they Nuts used him at the top of the order with he and Jonathan Herrera as the 1-2 punch. I remember it being a VERY tough task to retire him because he could beat you in so many ways. He's one of those pesky hitters, and it seemed like he could reach base at will. He had a .325 batting average, and a lot of those hits came from infield and bunt singles," Bayrouty said.

"He was especially dangerous when hitting with runners on-base. The defense had to respect him as a legitimate hitter, but he could also sneak a bunt down to sacrifice and easily beat it out for a hit. Also, given the fact that he stole 50 bases in 87 games in '06, he was the last guy the opposing team wanted to see on the basepaths with the game on the line."

Wimberly will be a non-roster invitee to the A's major league spring training camp and he is likely to start the season at Triple-A Sacramento, where Sellers was ticketed to play before being dealt to Chicago. Both are likely to be utility players if they ever make it to the major leagues. At the high-end of Wimberly's projection, he projects to be a Chone Figgins-type player in the major leagues, although he is more likely to have a major league role similar to that of current A's outfielder Rajai Davis should he ever make it to the big leagues (with the exception of the fact that he can play more positions than Davis). On the high-end of Sellers' projection, he turns in a career similar to that of Orlando Cabrera, although he is more likely to have a major league career similar to that of current A's third base coach and former back-up infielder Mike Gallego.

In terms of net-gain and loss, the A's appear to be losing defensive prowess and the opportunity to develop a player before he gets into his prime years in trading Sellers, and are gaining speed, positional flexibility and the ability to hit for average in acquiring Wimberly. Both players were eligible for the Rule 5 draft last off-season and will be again next off-season if they aren't added to their teams' 40-man rosters.


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