4:10pm: The A’s announced Neal’s selection, along with the recall of right-hander Luis Medina. In corresponding moves, righty Rico Garcia was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas while righty Mason Miller was placed on the 15-day injured list. Catcher Manny Piña was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room on the 40-man for Neal. Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle relays that Miller’s IL placement is due to right forearm tightness. Pina has been on the IL all year due to a lingering wrist issue and was recently pulled off his rehab after suffering a setback. He won’t be eligible to return until 60 days from the initial IL placement, which would be late May.
10:04am: The A’s are set to select the contract of righty Zach Neal prior to tonight’s game, reports Martin Gallegos of MLB.com (Twitter link). He’s expected to make a spot start tonight against Nathan Eovaldi and the Rangers. Neal inked a minor league deal with the Athletics last month.
It’ll be the second stint with Oakland for Neal, who also pitched there in 2016-17, logging a combined 4.89 ERA in 30 appearances (six starts). That accounts for the vast majority of Neal’s big league experience, though he also tossed one inning for the Dodgers in 2018. Overall, he carries a 4.94 ERA, 10.5% strikeout rate and 2% walk rate in 85 2/3 innings at the MLB level.
Now 34 years old, Neal hasn’t pitched in the Majors since that one-off appearance with the ’18 Dodgers. He spent the 2019-21 seasons with the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, working to a combined 4.49 ERA with a 12.4% strikeout rate against a 5.6% walk rate. Neal logged a 2.87 ERA in 100 1/3 innings in his first year with the Lions but was north of 5.00 in his second and third seasons in Japan.
Neal spent the 2022 season with the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate but was tagged for a 6.87 ERA in that hitter-friendly setting. He’s opened the 2023 campaign with similarly shaky results in another hitter-friendly setting, Las Vegas, allowing seven runs on eight hits and five walks with 11 punchouts in 11 1/3 innings (5.56 ERA).
The A’s have a full 40-man roster, so they’ll need to make a corresponding transaction to get Neal onto the roster. They’ve already turned over nearly their entire bullpen since the season began and could make yet another move there to accommodate Neal’s addition. Righty Zach Jackson and lefty Sam Moll are the only two members of Oakland’s Opening Day relief corps who are still currently in the bullpen.