Chad Pinder scraped out 22 major league games last year and failed to make a major impact. Though he had an encouraging stint at High-A Stockton in 2014 and has smacked double-digit homers in his last two minor league years, although he has often been taking advantage of very favorable hitting conditions. He occupied the bottom half of an A's platoon with Joey Wendle at second base near the end of 2016, but with Jed Lowrie presumably fully recovered from toe surgery, Pinder may open 2017 as a bench bat. He has enough defensive versatility and may display enough offense across the board -- including sneaky stolen-base ability -- to gain fantasy value as a compiler if he is ever given a regular role. However, he may need an injury ahead of him to receive that shot, and it would have to happen fairly quickly, as top prospect Franklin Barreto is nearing the majors and figures to slot in alongside Marcus Semien to form Oakland's double-play duo of the future.
Pinder was optioned to Triple-A Nashville on Friday. Pinder's efforts to try and play the outfield in addition to his normal middle infield work weren't enough to earn him a spot on the 25-man roster. He hit just .258/.310/.425 in 107 games at Triple-A last year and has played just 246 games above the High-A level. Pinder's glove and versatility could give him a future as a utility man, but his issues making contact (211 strikeouts in 224 games between Double-A and Triple-A) are a problem he needs to overcome first.
Pinder is set to begin working in the outfield during spring training games, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Oakland still has position battles going on for a few roster spots, and Pinder expanding his horizons could pave a clearer path to one of them. A's manager Bob Melvin said the club looks at Pinder as an Adam Rosales type, referencing their former utility player. This plan could give the right-handed batter slightly more value in AL-only formats, though the 24-year-old's plate work so far (.235/.273/.373 in 22 major league games) leaves little room for excitement.
Pinder went 1-for-3 with a three-run homer in Friday's 11-7 Cactus League win over the Royals. Pinder took Jake Junis deep in the seventh for his second round-tripper of the spring. The Oakland prospect has just three hits this spring and is slashing .250/.333/.750 with five RBI in nine exhibition contests.
Pinder went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Saturday's 15-5 Cactus League loss to the Indians. The Athletics' 13th-ranked prospect took Travis Banwart deep to left for what was only Oakland's second run of the game at the time. Pinder received his first exposure to big league pitching in 2016, slashing .235/.273/.373 with four doubles, one homer and four RBI over 55 plate appearances. The 24-year-old second baseman is hitting .250 through his first eight spring at-bats. Both he and fellow prospect Renato Nunez, who also homered, drew the praise of manager Bob Melvin on Saturday. "He and Pinder both took advantage of an opportunity, kind of a rare start for those guys," Melvin said. "These are big games for them. It's prime time for them, and both had good games today."
Pinder will start at second base and bat ninth in order Sunday against the Red Sox. With prospect Joe Wendle joining the Athletics on Aug. 31, it appears Athletics manager Bob Melvin will deploy a platoon at second base, with Wendle likely outpacing Pinder for starts by virtue of being the left-handed batter of the two. Pinder's ability to play both middle infield spots should also allow him to pick up occasional starts at shortstop when Marcus Semien receives the day off or is used at DH. Despite being seemingly in good position for semi-regular duty, Pinder hasn't done much yet to attract interest in the fantasy realm. Over the first 27 plate appearances of his MLB career, Pinder is slashing .192/.185/.231 with two RBI and no runs.