Eibner, 28, was a Royals’ farmhand before they traded him to Oakland for Billy Burns. As a former 2nd-round pick (and 4th-rounder of Houston’s in 2007), there is some pedigree with him. But, there’s a reason why he’s now with his third organization.
Here’s an excerpt from Oakland Clubhouse on Eibner after the A’s acquired him.
“Eibner’s physical abilities were never a question, but he had a tough time picking up off-speed pitches early in his career, leading to high swing-and-miss totals. He has improved his pitch recognition in recent years and has tightened up his swing to improve his contact rate considerably. He still strikes out a fair amount, but the strike-outs are within a more reasonable level. Eibner is also swinging at more hittable pitches, and he has improved his hard contact rate considerably over the past two years. Eibner has power to all fields and he employs an up-the-middle approach at the plate. He works the count well and has the speed to be an asset near the top of the line-up, although he has never racked up big stolen bases totals in his career. He has similarities as a hitter to A’s shortstop Marcus Semien. A right-handed hitter, Eibner has hit well against both righties and lefties during the past two seasons.”
There are things he does well. He has power potential in his 6’4, 225-pound frame, posting a .196 ISO in 2,344 minor-league plate appearances. He also carries a career 11.6 percent walk rate in the minors. Plus, Eibner is a strong defender, particularly in center field, and he has enough arm to play right field, if needed. But it seems he was brought in to at least have a chance to be Joc Pederson‘s right-handed platoon-mate (even though I will die on the hill of letting Pederson play against lefties for an extended period of time).
Eibner’s first taste of the majors in 2016 wasn’t great, as he slashed .193/.266/.353 with a 65 wRC+. He did have a 9.1 percent walk rate, but that accompanied a 24 percent strikeout rate. In 432 2/3 defensive innings, he had one defensive run saved and a 14.4 UZR/150. In center field (all with the A’s), those numbers were -2 and 17.3, respectively.
What does this acquisition mean? Possibly nothing, seeing as Eibner has minor-league options and could be a monster in Oklahoma City. Or, maybe the Dodgers are more concerned with the status of some of their outfielders than they’re letting on.
Trayce Thompson is coming off a couple fractures in his back. While it’s reported that he’s “almost there,” the fact the Dodgers felt it necessary to acquire an insurance policy for the right-handed portion of center field is a touch concerning.
Andre Ethier was still experiencing pain in his leg when he returned to action late last season. If he’s still experiencing that pain, maybe he’s more of a 200-250 plate appearance guy as opposed to a 400-plus PA guy.
Andrew Toles had a great 2016 in both the minors and majors. But, there’s a chance he’s not nearly that good. If he reverts to his previous form (which I hope he doesn’t), the Dodgers are suddenly thin in outfield at the upper minors.
Enrique Hernandez, who could ultimately be the odd man out in all of this, is a better infielder than outfielder (and not particularly great in center field).
This isn’t to anoint Eibner as the second coming, but this is precisely the move you make when you’re trying to improve on the fringes. And this is something the Andrew Friedman–Farhan Zaidi front office has done since it arrived in the winter of 2014.
As for Tarsovich, he’s a non-prospect for me. The 2015 22nd-round never cracked my Top 100 (nor did he ever come close). No big loss there. And Frias has bad medicals, which makes his designation much easier to handle. Turns out, he isn’t the next Garrett Richards.
With Greg Holland almost officially a Rockie, the Dodgers are still looking for another right-handed reliever. They’ll find one at some point.