Peter O’Brien had been designated for assignment just before Christmas, on December 23, as the team made room for newly-acquired catcher Juan Graterol. That gave Arizona ten days to figure out a trade for O’Brien, or he’d become available on waivers, and rumblings last week indicated such a deal was in the works: “[General Manager Mike] Hazen said O’Brien has received interest not only from clubs in the American League, in which he could see time at designated hitter, but also from NL teams.”
However, in the end, it was one of the former sides who appears to have come up with the best offer, and with the 10 days being up, the official announcement of the resulting deal came this afternoon:
The #Dbacks acquire right-handed pitcher Sam Lewis from the Royals in exchange for outfielder Peter O'Brien.— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) January 3, 2017
Sam Lewis turned 25 in October, but has yet to pitch above High-A ball, in part because he missed the entire 2015 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. He was signed originally by Kansas City in August 2012 after going undrafted, and started last year with a couple of June rehab outings in Rookie ball. He went to the Kansas City Low-A affiliate in Lexington and threw 24.1 innings of 1.19 ERA ball there, with an impressive K:BB ratio of 24:1. That got him a promotion to High-A Wilmington, where he made his last five appearances, allowing three runs over nine innings, on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Overall, he had a 2.23 ERA in 44.1 inning, with a K:BB of 39:7.
O’Brien is likely better at home in the American League; he never seemed comfortable at any position in the field. His career at catcher was severely problematic: in spring training 2015, it was reported he couldn’t even throw the ball back to the mound. A move to the outfield was made later that year, but in his major-league call-ups to the Diamondbacks, he never looked particularly good. His offense was very much all or nothing: more than half of his MLB at-bats ended in a home-run or a strikeout. And it was mostly the latter, with 32 K’s in 74 AB. With not much apparent hope for improvement, he was deemed surplus to requirements, but the Royals apparently considered him worth a flyer.
Still, we’ll always have this, O’Brien’s first major-league home-run: