The Athletics announced this afternoon that they’ve optioned Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville. Fellow righty Chris Bassitt is also being optioned to Triple-A, while recently acquired reliever Wilmer Font has been added to the active roster. The A’s will announce another move tomorrow (perhaps Yusmeiro Petit being activated from the bereavement list, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests).
The move comes as somewhat of a surprise given Graveman’s standing in the organization. The 27-year-old has been a reliable member of the starting five (when healthy) dating back to the 2015 season, pitching to a 4.11 ERA through 407 innings from 2015-17.
Thus far, the 2018 campaign has proven to be a nightmare for Graveman, however. In 28 1/3 innings, Graveman has allowed 28 earned runs on 41 hits (seven homers) and 11 walks with 23 strikeouts. No pitcher in Major League Baseball has allowed more hits or earned runs, and Graveman’s seven homers trail only Cole Hamels for the MLB lead. (Hamels has tossed 6 1/3 more innings.)
[Related: Oakland Athletics depth chart]
Graveman entered the season with three years, 14 days of Major League service time, putting him on track to reach free agency after the completion of the 2020 season. He needs to accumulate a total of 158 days of big league service time in 2018 in order to surpass four years of service and remain on track for that free agency date, which should still be attainable unless the demotion proves to be an especially lengthy one. He’d need to spend about a full month in the minors in order to miss out on the requisite service time for free agency that offseason.
With Graveman temporarily out of the rotation, the A’s have Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Triggs holding starting jobs. There’s been no announcement as to who’ll step into his spot, but righty Daniel Gossett has pitched well in two starts since being optioned to Nashville. Flamethrowing Frankie Montas is also starting down in Nashville and is on the 40-man roster, though he’s gotten off to a poor start. Veteran lefty Brett Anderson is also with Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate and throwing well — 1.89 ERA, 25-to-2 K/BB ratio in 19 innings — and the A’s have an open 40-man roster spot to accommodate him if he is the preferred option.