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Indians seem interested in A’s utilityman Chad Pinder

Another utilityman for the utility belt

Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Indians’ search to find every utility player available and have a chat has landed them at the negotiating table with the Oakland Athletics. According to Jon Heyman, the Tribe are one of a handful of teams with “significant interest” in Chad Pinder, though the A’s don’t sound particularly interested in dealing him.

Pinder is a 27-year-old who has played at least 16.0 innings at every position besides catcher (and played them well), with most of his time spent patrolling Oakland’s right field. He had a small breakout season in 2018 when he slashed .258/.332/.436 with 13 home runs and a wRC+ of 114, but he slipped back to a below-average bat in 2019 despite a hot start to the season. The clear difference between the two was his walk rate, which hit a career-high of 8.1% in 2018, then dropped back down to 5.4% in 2019.

There’s some potential for a decent bat looking at Pinder’s Statcast numbers, as his exit velocity sits in the 76th percentile and a simple launch angle adjustment might be what he needs to get back to being a good hitter. Obviously the Indians see that or something similar, but so will the A’s — which is probably why they don’t want to trade him (or want to make it look like they don’t want to trade him).

Pinder is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility, and is projected to make $1.8 million by Spotrac. He has a full three option years available to it, meaning he would have nearly endless flexibility for the Indians until he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2023.