The Athletics announced that they have claimed right-hander David McKay off waivers from the Rays. Fellow righty Jake Lemoine has been designated for assignment in a corresponding move. McKay had been designated for assignment by the Rays a few days ago when they acquired Christian Bethancourt from the A’s.
McKay, 27, underwent hip surgery in April of 2021 and missed that entire season. He signed a minor league deal with the Rays prior to this year, but was traded to the Yankees for cash considerations before the season began. He made the Yankees 40-man roster but was recalled and optioned to Triple-A three times, only getting two big league innings in the process. He was designated for assignment in June and sent back to the Rays, with cash considerations once again changing hands. He threw another two big leagues innings for the Rays, before being optioned to Triple-A and then being designated in recent days.
He fared quite well for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A team, throwing 21 2/3 innings with a 2.91 ERA, 29.5% strikeout rate, though with subpar walk rate and ground ball rates of 12.5% and 33.3%, respectively. He was less effective for the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A team of the Rays, though in a small sample of just four innings.
Generally speaking, the strikeouts and the walks have been the recipe for McKay, with teams continually intrigued enough by the Ks to give him chances and hope the control improves. For the A’s, their 29-59 record is the worst in baseball, making them perhaps the most logical team to take a shot on a flawed player and hope that he finds a new gear. This is McKay’s last option year, meaning he will have to stick with the big league club next year as long as he holds onto his roster spot.
As for Lemoine, 28, he was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason and cracked Oakland’s Opening Day roster. He has struggled in the majors with a 7.71 ERA, though in a small sample of 16 1/3 innings. He’s fared much better in Triple-A, between last year with the Rangers and this year with the A’s. Since the start of 2021, he has thrown 64 Triple-A frames with a 2.67 ERA, 19.1% strikeout rate, with ground ball rates around 60% in each season. He still has all three of his options, which could appeal to team’s looking for bullpen depth. The A’s will have a week to trade him, pass him through waivers or release him.