The Athletics announced Thursday that they’ve designated left-hander Wei-Chung Wang for assignment and placed designated hitter Khris Davis on the paternity list. Wang’s spot on the 40-man roster will go to infield prospect Sheldon Neuse, whose previously reported promotion to the big leagues is now official. Davis can be on the paternity list until Sept. 1, and at that point rosters will expand, so it’s likely that Neuse will be with the MLB club through season’s end.
Wang, 27, has pitched to an aesthetically pleasing 3.33 ERA through 27 innings with the A’s this season, but he’s also managed just a 16-to-11 K/BB ratio with a 30.5 percent ground-ball rate in that time. His success has been propped up by a .231 average on balls in play and an 84.5 percent strand rate — neither of which seems particularly sustainable over a larger sample. Oakland isn’t short on lefty options in the ’pen, either; Ryan Buchter has been a constant in the bullpen for much of the past two seasons, and he’s joined there by deadline acquisition Jake Diekman and recently promoted top prospect A.J. Puk. That depth had relegated Wang to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he’s logged a 4.78 ERA with 24 strikeouts, eight walks and five homers allowed in 26 1/3 innings.
Although this season’s performance has been mixed both in Triple-A and at the MLB level, Wang does sport a career 3.20 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in 115 2/3 innings of Triple-A pitching. If he goes unclaimed on outright waivers, he’ll have the right to reject an assignment to the minors in favor of free agency by virtue of the fact that he’s been outrighted off a 40-man roster in the past.
Even if Wang is claimed by another club, the former Rule 5 pick is in his final option season, thus hurting his chances of sticking with a team into the 2020 season. Any club could take a flier on Wang via outright waivers and give him a September bullpen audition, but because he’ll be out of options in Spring Training, he’d need to either break camp with a club or once again be placed on waivers.