Oakland A's acquire infielder Abraham Toro from Brewers

The Oakland A's traded minor league pitcher Chad Patrick to the Brewers for infielder Abraham Toro on Wednesday evening.
Jul 28, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Abraham Toro (13) gets a
Jul 28, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Abraham Toro (13) gets a / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics have completed a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, acquiring infielder Abraham Toro for minor league pitcher Chad Patrick.

Toro spent the majority of the 2023 season on Milwaukee’s Triple-A roster, playing just 9 games at the major league level. He’s now been traded three times in the last three years, playing for the Astros and Mariners in addition to the Brewers.

He has not hit well in the majors at any stop. His best performance came in 2021, when he split time between Houston and Seattle. He hit a combined .239/.315/.373 with 11 homers and 6 steals in 95 games. He followed that up with a paltry .185/.239/.324 line in 2022 before being traded from Seattle to Milwaukee where he was promptly demoted.

While he was never a top prospect, Toro did have his backers. According to MLB Pipeline, Toro had a strong arm and a solid hit tool and was projected as a potential utility infielder. He’s mostly lived up to those expectations.

Toro comes to the A's with three years of arbitration remaining. Cot's Contracts projects him to earn $1.75 million next year, which feels high given his lackluster performance in 2023. He made $1.25 million last year and while arbitration salaries typically scale over time, he doesn't have a strong case to win an arbitration battle if he and the A's can't come to a deal before the deadline.

Where does Abraham Toro fit on the A's 2024 roster

He’s spent most of his time at second and third base, with a handful of appearances at first. He hasn’t hit well enough to play every day at the corners, though his strong arm has helped him develop into an average defender at third. How the A’s utilize Toro in 2024 is an interesting question.

The A’s have a glaring hole on the left side of the infield. They’ll be paying Aledmys Diaz $8 million next year. Diaz played in 109 games in 2023, splitting time between short and third. He posted a career-worst .229 batting average and a 72 wRC+ with bad defense. Fangraphs has him as the 5th worst defensive shortstop in baseball last year with a -9 DRS in just 255 innings.

Kevin Smith and Nick Allen failed to get the job done last year and it’s an open question whether Darell Hernaiz is ready for the majors. The A’s just claimed Miguel Andujar off waivers from the Pirates, but he’s a bad defender and over the course of his career has not been a particularly good hitter either.

Adding Toro to the mix suggests that the A’s are going to take the approach of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's notable that this strategy has been tried before, with limited success.

In Chad Patrick, the Brewers are getting a potentially interesting starting pitcher with mid-90’s velocity on the four-seamer and a curveball/change-up combo that work to miss bats. Acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Jace Peterson trade midway through the 2023 season, Patrick struggled at Double-A and Triple-A in the A’s system.

After posting a 31.5% strikeout rate in Low-A in 2022, that figure dropped to 23.6% this year while pitching to a 7.01 ERA. The Brewers have a strong pitching development system, so it’s possible Patrick just needs another change of scenery to unlock his full potential.