A top prospect since being a part of the package that landed Mark Mulder in St. Louis, Daric Barton hasn't quite taken hold of the first base job in Oakland as expected. But people certainly shouldn't write off Barton, because he still has a chance to be one of the better first baseman in the game. The bigger question is whether that could happen in Oakland, given that Brett Wallace, Chris Carter and Sean Doolittle should be ready to contribute at the major league level very soon.
This leaves the Athletics with a nice problem, as they have to figure out what to do with all of those bats, as Wallace tries to stick at third base and Carter tries to adjsut to left field, neither of which is likely to work out particularly well. If the Athletics consider trading Barton to make room at first base for one of those guys, which is really more of a when rather than an if, then he could be a very appealing piece to any team in need of a solid first baseman with good OBP skills.
Barton's biggest flaw has always been a lack of power for someone on his side of the defensive spectrum, but he makes up for it with excellent contact skills and a very developed, patient approach at the plate. Barton was given the everyday job in Oakland in 2008 and struggled, posting a .226/.327/.348 line in 523 plate appearances, but he still posted a strong walk rate, and was pretty unlucky with balls in play and converting fly balls into home runs. He rebounded quite well in 2009, with a .261/.386/.458 line in 313 plate appearances with AAA Sacramento, and an improved .269/.372/.413 line in 192 plate appearances in Oakland.
He's consistently posted great walk and strikeout rates in the upper minors while flashing solid gap power, and he's also a plus defender at first base, an observation supported by both scouting reports and defensive metrics. He could certainly find a place as a first baseman in the Nick Johnson/Lyle Overbay mold, churning out doubles with a high OBP and above-average defense.
I'm not saying that the A's should shop Barton because he'll never be helpful to them, but it's not clear how he fits into their long-term plans and he's a guy that they would presumably consider moving. If Oakland is willing to deal Barton in order to get playing time for more highly touted young players, they're not exactly a contender in 2010 anyways, for teams like the Mets, Indians, White Sox, Orioles, and Mariners, Barton could be a great fit. He's not the 40-homer masher that you ideally want at first base, but he could definitely be a nice addition for someone with a hole there.