The Oakland A’s, in what looks like a move that frees up a 40 man spot for Hiroyuki Nakajima, traded Collin Cowgill to the New York Mets for Jefry Marte. The A’s originally acquired Collin Cowgill before the 2012 season in part of the Trevor Cahill trade. I was a fan of him at the time, but he played in just 38 MLB games in 2012 with a 87 wRC + and -.1 WAA. He still doesn’t have a large sample size in the Majors, but he hasn’t hit well, but has good defensive ratings. In the PCL, he really struggled offensively (77 wRC +), though he had a solid defensive rating. The Mets really need a centerfielder, and Cowgill can play in center. So what did they give up for Cowgill in Marte?
The Mets originally signed him for $550,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2007. Marte wasn’t ranked in BP’s top 10 Mets prospects this week and he was eligible for the Rule 5 draft, though no one selected him.
Defensively, Range Factor has him below average and below Mark Sobolewski, who has been rated high defensively by some scouts but both batted ball data and my own experience watching him insists that he lacks range. In the last two seasons (one in AA and one in A +), Marte has been rated below average by FRAA, including -6 runs in 2012. Early ROTZ data thought he was pretty terrible, and he played 14 games as the DH in 2012, along with 5 games at 1st base. In 2010, Kevin Goldstein, who now works with the Astros as the Pro Scouting Coordinator, wrote that “He’s an advanced hitter for his young age, but lacks power and a defensive home.”
He struggled with thigh strains in 2010 that limited him to 82 games and he had off-season wrist surgery before the 2012 season. However, he stayed healthy and had 513 plate appearances. However, he hit like a middle infielder in those plate appearances, with a 97 wOBA +, 91 wRC +, 52 GB%, and .115 ISO. Even though he was young for the league, this isn’t what you want to see from a bad fielding 3rd baseman. This is par for the course for Marte though, as if you take out his big Gulf Coast League season, he has a career wOBA + of about 96. While the assignments have been aggressive considering age, he has been a below average hitter and fielder. He doesn’t make up for this with speed either, as he hit into the 3rd most double plays in the Eastern League in 2012 and had a 4.6 speed score. Hitting a lot of ground-balls while being a below average runner is not exactly a ticket to success.
As John Sickels notes “He simply looks like someone who should hit, even though he hasn’t really done it yet”. In the box, he looks big and menacing (but not in a non-athletic 1st base/DH type way). However, he seems to rock back and forth before swinging that seems to throw him a little off balance and does not put him in a great position to hit.
Obviously, if he moves to 1st, he has basically no value because he doesn’t hit for power. He is still just 21, so it is hard to give up on him. I think the A’s really need to tinker with his swing to get him in a better position, as he really needs to hit to make up for his lack of other tools. A bad defensive player at a corner position that has a career high of 9 homers and 14 steals (different seasons), doesn’t have a lot of value. Power is much more likely to develop than speed over time (speed usually decreases), so the A’s are betting on power here. The funny thing about this trade, that may or may not be irrelevant, is that the Mets got a player that can help them this year while the A’s got a player that can’t help them this year. The A’s had no room for Cowgill in the outfield, but the Mets just traded their best player (R.A. Dickey) for prospects, pretty much giving up on the 2013 season. The Mets obviously still have to field a team, and they really needed a centerfielder, and Cowgill is very cheap, not being arbitration eligible yet. The A’s needed to clear up a roster spot, but I would have demanded more from Cowgill, unless they really believe in Marte. I really like this trade for the Mets, and don’t quite understand it for the A’s.