Did the Athletics Get it Right with Cristian Pache?
Where does Pache go from here?
With no options remaining, the Oakland Athletics needed to make a decision on 24-year-old Cristian Pache’s future with the team. That decision came on March 28, as Pache has not made the Oakland Opening Day roster. It may mean the end of Pache’s time with the team, which started just twelve months earlier.
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A Look at Pache
Just 12 months ago, Athletics outfielder Cristian Pache became one of the organization’s most notable prospects after being acquired in the deal that sent All-Star first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta. Now, he may be out of the organization altogether.
A career .278 hitter in the Minors, Cristian Pache has long been projected to be a defensive-savvy outfielder with plus speed. However, the question was whether Pache would hit at higher levels. Pache posted roughly average strikeout rates throughout much of his MiLB career, and owned a career ISO of .126 despite two double digit home run campaigns in 2019 and 2021. Yet, the former Braves prospect profiled at worst as a glove-first center fielder.
Things, though, didn’t go great for Pache in Oakland in 2022. Across 260 plate appearances, Pache hit just .166/.218/.241 across 214 plate appearances with the A’s last year. Among players with at least 200 PA from the start of the season to June 30 — the day in which Oakland re-assigned Pache to the Minors — the 24-year-old posted the worst batting average and fourth-fewest extra-base hits (8) in MLB. Only Yasmani Grandal, Aaron Hicks, and Sheldon Neuse had fewer extra-base hits in that time span.
Pache didn’t make it back to the Majors after being demoted, but did have a fine spring. The 24-year-old hit .302/.362/.419 over 21 Cactus League games. While he only had three extra base hits, he did finish third on the A’s in total hits. That, however, was not enough for Pache to make the Oakland roster. With no options left, the Athletics must decide to either trade, or DFA and attempt to outright Pache to the Minors.
A Look at the Athletics Outfield
Without Pache, the A’s outfield is set to include Conner Capel, Ramon Laureano, Brent Rooker, and Esteury Ruiz — the latter of whom we covered in detail just a few days ago. Aside from Laureano, it’s a very young, inexperienced outfield. Capel hit .308 over a small sample size with Oakland last season, while Rooker has been an intriguing players for a couple of years thanks to plus power at the plate. And as for the 28-year-old Laureano, he’ll look to get back on track after a tough 2022 campaign that saw him post just a .663 OPS.
It’s understandable — at least when taking the Olson trade and the 24-year-old’s lack of options out of the equation — as to why Pache didn’t make it on the A’s Opening Day roster. But when one does take the options into account, it’s a bit of a surprise. Pache is young, has plenty of speed, and is more than capable in center field. The former top prospect does boast plenty of tools, but the bat will be the deciding factor in whether he’s a regular or not. As of now, Oakland doesn’t view him as such.
Granted, the jury is still very much out on someone like Pache — even after a rough 2022 season. The 24-year-old has only accrued roughly the equivalent of half a full season’s plate appearances in his career thus far. Just off of that, and his tools, he should be a popular name among rebuilding teams that are willing to take a crack at him.