The A’s announced they’ve claimed infielder Ernie Clement off waivers from the Guardians, who’d designated him for assignment earlier this week. Oakland also recalled reliever Sam Selman from Triple-A Las Vegas and placed right-hander Joel Payamps on the 15-day injured list with a lumbar strain. The A’s already had an opening on the 40-man roster, so no additional corresponding move was necessary.
Clement changes organizations for the first time in his career. A fourth-round pick out of Virginia in 2017, the right-handed hitter spent a few seasons generally ranked at the back half of Cleveland’s top 30 prospects. One of the game’s highest-contact batters, he worked his way up the minor league ladder and eventually earned a spot on the 40-man roster heading into the 2021 campaign. After opening last season with Triple-A Columbus, he received his first MLB call last June.
The 26-year-old has bounced on and off the active roster over the past year-plus. Clement has tallied 294 major league plate appearances, hitting .214/.273/.274. He’s only picked up three home runs and doubles apiece, and his well below-average exit velocities have muted his overall offensive impact. He’s continued to showcase excellent bat-to-ball skills against MLB arms, though, making contact on greater than 85% of his swings and only going down on strikes in 14.6% of his plate appearances (well below this year’s 22.3% league average). He’s been better overall in the minors, hitting .261/.311/.419 with a 13% strikeout rate over 238 Triple-A plate appearances.
In addition to his plus contact skills, Clement offers a fair bit of defensive versatility. He’s capable of playing anywhere on the infield, with the bulk of his professional experience coming at shortstop. He’s played mostly second and third base in the majors, with brief stints both at shortstop and in left field. The A’s have plenty of long-term uncertainty on the infield, giving Clement an opportunity to at least carve out a utility role if he can make a bit more impact from a power perspective.
Clement is in his second minor league option year, so the A’s can bounce him between Oakland and Triple-A Las Vegas through the end of next season if he holds his spot on the 40-man roster. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until after the 2024 season at the earliest.