Oakland Athletics’ young slugger Mark Canha may have his playing time reduced during 2016 season
On Thursday, the Oakland Athletics acquired outfielder/infielder Chris Coghlan from the Chicago Cubs, in exchange for right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Brooks. Coghlan’s versatility around the diamond along with Khris Davis‘ starting role in left field could jeopardize Canha’s playing time for the green and gold.
When Mark Canha joined the Athletics organization last offseason, he immediately flourished as a right-handed power hitter amongst an Oakland philosophy that heavily embraced platooning players while subsequently utilizing each individuals strengths in the batter’s box.
In his first six games with the A’s, the Cal product posted a remarkable .366 batting average (11-30) with three doubles, a home run, and seven RBI.
Over the course of the 2015 campaign, Canha demonstrated his defensive prowess on the diamond — whether he was slated at first-base (30 starts), or manning the corner outfield spots (48). Despite his lack of range on the field, the 27-year-old is more than capable of making the routine plays with his above-average speed.
Thanks to his positive contributions in the field and at the plate, it wasn’t uncommon to see Canha’s name in the starting lineup on a regular basis toward the end of the season. In fact, the additional playing time allowed the San Jose native to showcase his raw-talent versus right-handed hurlers. He capitalized on the opportunity even though the platoon splits weren’t in his favor.
By the end of the year, Canha completed his 2015 rookie season with a respectable .254/.315/.742 slash line. Interestingly enough, 13 of his round-trippers came against righties and he collected 54 RBI, which was over three times the amount he obtained against south paws.
Heading into the 2016 season, Canha appeared to be the front-runner as the Athletics everyday left-fielder until Oakland acquired Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers. Shortly after the signing, A’s general manager David Forst announced that the starting role would be given to the newly-inked Davis, who mashed 27 home runs in 2015, 21 versus right-handed hurlers — all which came in the second-half of the year.
With Billy Burns in center, Josh Reddick in right, and Yonder Alonso at first, Canha’s chances of collecting 600 regular-season at-bats now seems unlikely — especially with the recent acquisition of Coghlan from the Cubs.
Coghlan will serve as the Athletics’ roving-utility man. Because he can play both corner infield and outfield positions along with second-base, expect the 2009 Rookie of the Year’s presence to be on the field on a normal basis. Even though his statistics against south paws are disastrous, the 30-year-old is an offensive-juggernaut in a platoon-role as demonstrated by his .264/.355/.476 slash line in 397 regular-season appearances. What’s also impressive about Coghlan is his plate discipline, ability to draw walks, while occasionally stealing a handful of bases. Let’s also not forget his 16 round-trippers and 41 RBI.
With a crowded-outfield of Davis, Burns, Reddick, and Sam Fuld as well as Alonso manning first, Billy Butler and Coco Crisp will most likely split time as the club’s designated hitter, signifying Canha as the odd-man out.
Unless the Athletics plan to use Canha as a late-inning pinch-hitter, the best thing the club can do is deal him before the season starts or get rid of Butler or Crisp, despite the organization’s financial constraints.