With the Orioles already waiting at the front of the waiver line, Oakland managed to work out a trade for the recently designated for assignment Jake Fox. Baltimore will give up 27 year-old right-handed reliever Ross Wolf*, who has spent a number of years putting up big groundball rates in the minors but doesn’t miss many bats or have much better than decent control. Maybe he’s a guy who would fill out the back end of a bullpen, but I don’t think he’s substantially better than, say, Matt Albers (if with better control and worse stuff). I talked about the possibility of the O’s picking up Fox last week:
“A career batting line of 241/.293/.418 in 362 PA isn’t particularly impressive, but he’s hit .299/.365/.546 in the minors overall with a .407/.495/.846 line in Triple-A last year with 17 home runs in just 162 PA. In the majors, Fox has been plagued by a low BABIP (.267) largely as a result of below average line-drive rate (17%) and a high rate of pop-ups – plus a touch of bad luck thrown in. Even if you adjust his line using his expected BABIP, it’s still only at .252/.303/.432. From a power perspective, Fox seems to have a bit of pop in his bat with an 11.3% HR/FB rate and his 13 career home runs pro-rates to somewhere in the low to mid 20s in a full season. FanGraphs’ plate discipline stats show a guy who swings a lot; almost 60% of the time overall, and over 40% at pitches out of the strike-zone. He also has a lot of trouble putting the bat on the ball, with a 69% contact rate that would rank amongst the worst in the majors. That indicates a player who won’t walk much and will strike out a whole lot – to even more extreme degrees than Fox is already doing (5.5% walk rate, 23% strike-outs rate). CHONE has Fox batting .256/.313/.440 for the rest of the season, which looks perfectly reasonable. That’s about a league average bat overall.
Defensively, Fox can play a whole bunch of positions at different levels of “not well”, but that’s no different from Atkins and being able to fill in at catcher is a nice plus*.
* So that Wieters doesn’t need to be the guy to pinch-hit every time Tatum plays, letting Matt actually get a day off now and again.
Putting it together, you’ve probably get a slightly over replacement level player on your hands. That’s certainly more valuable than Atkins – whose contract is a sunk cost – at this point, and probably worth a flier just to see if he can figure something out. Not expecting much, but there’s no harm in it.”
I have to think this means Atkins is on his way out of town – if not immediately than in the very near future – which is a plus.
* I’m avoiding making any Fox / Wolf jokes. You’re welcome.