This is the fifth of a multipart Around the Horn series that features a position-by-position look at the A's projected starters and backup options heading into the 2017 season.
Who's at third base?
The A's finalized a one-year, $5.25 million deal with free-agent infielder Trevor Plouffe last week and they plan to install him at the hot corner on an everyday basis. That means 2016 rookie surprise Ryon Healy will shift to designated hitter and first-base duty, while serving as Plouffe's primary backup at third.
Plouffe, 30, hit .260/.303/.420 with 12 home runs for the Twins last season, but he was limited to 84 games by a slew of injuries that led to three disabled-list stints. Plouffe slugged 22 homers the year before, and a career-high 24 in '12, suggesting he could provide a nice dose of complementary power to an A's lineup that's always seeking more.
Plouffe has been significantly more productive against lefties (.268/.344/.465) in his career than righties (.239/.294/.403), but that isn't expected to affect his playing time.
Plouffe has developed nicely as a defender into his prime years, though several metrics suggest he endured an exceptionally down season with the glove in '16. Quantitative analysis doesn't always tell the whole story, though, and it's reasonable to assume Plouffe can return to form with the glove, particularly with better health on his side.
With Plouffe on board, and Healy acting as insurance behind him, the A's don't have to rush third-base prospect Matt Chapman's arrival. Plouffe is essentially a placeholder for Chapman, who will be back in big league camp during Spring Training, before beginning his season with Triple-A Nashville and continuing his development. Chapman, Oakland's No. 4 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, is largely expected to force a promotion by season's end.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.