In the Oakland Athletics battle for second base, Vimael Machin tends to be an afterthought. Is it possible that he can win the job outright?
The Oakland Athletics roster is essentially set. Aside from some questions in the bullpen, the majority of the roles have been filled, with players knowing where they will be playing in the coming year. The exception to that rule is second base.
Currently, there are four main candidates for the position, five if one counts former top prospect Jorge Mateo. However, none of the options have exactly built a track record of proven success. In reality, frontrunners Tony Kemp and Franklin Barreto may be better suited for utility roles, getting sporadic action to better pick matchups that can lead to success.
Of those options, there is another player who is somewhat overlooked. Vimael Machin was a Rule V draft choice by the A’s, a potential super utility player in the Ben Zobrist mold. He had played that role in the Cubs system, and picked Zobrist’s brain about the preparation needed to play multiple positions at the major league level.
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Yet, Machin has been a solid player with the bat. Over his minor league career, the former tenth round draft choice has posted a .265/.358/.371 batting line in 1772 plate appearances. Machin is not going to hit for power, with just 25 homers and 78 doubles, but he can work a count and make consistent contact, drawing 215 walks and striking out only 258 times.
Those traits were evident in spring training. In 36 plate appearances, Machin had ten hits with two doubles. He drew six walks, and struck out six times. He may not have played against the highest quality competition, but Machin certainly looked as though he belonged on a major league roster.
With the likelihood of expanded rosters for the 2020 season, Machin should have a role with the A’s unless his performance craters in the second incarnation of spring training. In fact, depending on how Kemp and Barreto perform, there is an opportunity at second base. Machin, who has displayed a solid glove and above average range at the keystone in the minors, may be able to force his way into a starting role.
Second base is still wide open for the Oakland Athletics. Vimael Machin may be able to stake a claim to the position.