The Athletics will effectively deploy a six-man rotation for the time being, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sean Manaea’s return puts him alongside Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Chris Bassitt, Tanner Roark and Homer Bailey in the rotation, and it seems that there’s no immediate plans to push any of that bunch into a bullpen role. Skipper Bob Melvin called the situation “fluid” and left open the possibility for a change should the need arise. The flexibility could prove particularly important in the season’s final few games, as Melvin could potentially have the ability to optimize some matchups late in the year as the A’s look to secure a Wild Card playoff berth for the second straight season.
Of that bunch, the Athletics will lose Roark, Bailey and Anderson to free agency this winter, although the team isn’t exactly short on internal replacement options. Top prospect A.J. Puk is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, and while he’s in the bullpen for 2019, he’s expected vie for rotation gig in 2020. Righty Jharel Cotton is in a similar position, while uber-prospect Jesus Luzardo is also on the cusp of MLB readiness. Oakland, of course, also has righty Frankie Montas on the sidelines until late September due to an 80-game PED suspension, but he’ll be back in the starting mix next year.
Elsewhere in the AL West…
- Aaron Sanchez’s season-ending shoulder surgery could give the Astros a difficult decision regarding the right-hander’s future in the organization, writes Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription required). The organization has yet to divulge details on what type of procedure he’ll require, but Sanchez is owed a raise on this season’s $3.9MM salary in arbitration. His lackluster season won’t make the ultimate price point too steep, so it seems worthwhile to tender Sanchez a contract so long as he’s not expected to be sidelined well into next summer, but the sudden uncertainty surrounding his outlook is an unwelcome development as the club plans for the 2020 campaign. The extent of Sanchez’s expected recovery will play a role in how aggressively the ’Stros need to pursue rotation help in the offseason; Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley and Collin McHugh are free agents, while Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. (who’ll ideally be recovered from 2018 Tommy John surgery) are all signed or controlled through at least 2021.
- The Angels’ March claim of Brian Goodwin off release waivers from the Royals may have initially been intended to find a capable stopgap for the injured Justin Upton, but the 28-year-old Goodwin looks to have played himself into the team’s plans in 2020, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. “Truthfully, I thought he was going to be a filler until Upton came back,” manager Brad Ausmus admitted. “But then he just proved himself to be way too valuable. Much more than just a stop-gap player. He’s turned himself into, shoot, you could make the argument he should play more.” Goodwin, indeed, has been a boon to the Halos’ roster, hitting at a .286/.346/.507 clip with 15 home runs, 27 doubles, two triples and five steals through 380 plate appearances. He’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and should secure the first seven-figure salary of his career. The Angels hold a club option on Kole Calhoun and will have both Upton and Mike Trout back in 2020, but Goodwin at the very least should be a fourth outfield option next season.