The Athletics have signed right-hander Austin Pruitt to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. He will presumably receive an invitation to major league Spring Training with the club.
Pruitt, 33, was originally drafted by the Rays and first cracked the big leagues with that club. He had a solid three-year run over the 2017-2019 campaigns, working as both a starter and a reliever. He logged 199 2/3 innings over that time with a 4.87 ERA, though advanced metrics liked his work better, such as a 4.17 FIP. He only struck out 17.2% of batters faced but kept his walks down to a 5.8% rate and got grounders on 48.9% of balls in play.
The past few years have been a bit more tumultuous for Pruitt, however. He was traded to the Astros in early 2020 but wound up missing that entire season due to an elbow injury that lingered and eventually required surgery. He returned in July of 2021 but only made two appearances as an Astro before getting designated for assignment. He went to the Marlins in the Yimi Garcia trade but that club also designated him for assignment shortly thereafter.
He joined the A’s on a minor league deal last year and ended up having two stints with the big league club. He was selected in May, designated for assignment in August, but was quickly selected again. By the end of the year, he had tossed 55 1/3 big league innings over 39 appearances. He posted a 4.23 ERA with a 17% strikeout rate, 4% walk rate and 45.5% ground ball rate.
Since the A’s have been aggressively rebuilding, their pitching staff mainly consists of inexperienced youngsters. Trevor May is the only pitcher on the 40-man with more than four years of MLB service time and none of the guys likely to be in the bullpen have more than three. If Pruitt can earn his way back onto the roster, he’ll be able to fill a veteran role for the club, eating some innings and perhaps mentoring some of the younger arms. He could also be retained for 2024 via arbitration, if the A’s are so inclined.