The Athletics announced a series of roster moves today, reinstating catcher Manny Piña from the 60-day injured list and recalling infielder Nick Allen. To open active roster spots for those two, outfielder Conner Capel was optioned to Triple-A and catcher Carlos Pérez was placed on the 10-day injured list. Perez has a fractured left thumb, per Martín Gallegos of MLB.com. To open a 40-man roster spot for Piña, right-hander Chad Smith was designated for assignment.
Piña, 36, was acquired from Atlanta in the Sean Murphy trade, partially to offset some salary but also to serve as a veteran backup to Shea Langeliers. Unfortunately, Piña hasn’t been able to make his debut with the club until today. He began the season on the injured list due to inflammation in his left wrist, the same wrist that required surgery in 2022 and wiped out almost his whole season. Fortunately, it won’t be quite as dire this year and he can now finally take his spot on the roster.
For his career, he’s hit .243/.313/.409 for a wRC+ of 90. He’s generally been considered a strong defender and pitch framer, having tallied 37 Defensive Runs Saved in his career. Statcast gives him strong marks both for his work with the running game and blocking pitches. The A’s have a $4MM club option over his services for 2024 with no buyout.
While he’s been out of action, the club has turned to Pérez as the backup. His defense isn’t as highly regarded as Piña’s but he’s hit .232/.293/.384 for a wRC+ of 91, not too shabby for a backup catcher. Unfortunately, he’ll now have to head to the injured list. The club hasn’t provided any kind of timeline but he’s likely going to be out longer than the minimum if he has a fracture.
Amid all these moves, Smith has been nudged off the club’s 40-man roster. Now 28, he made his major league debut with the Rockies last year, tossing 18 innings with a 7.50 ERA. He walked 17.6% of batters faced but also struck them out at a 27.1% clip and got grounders at a 55.6% rate. The A’s took a shot on perhaps getting better results with some improved command, acquiring Smith from the Rockies this winter.
Here in 2023, he’s served as an up-and-down reliever, being shuttled between Triple-A and the big league club. In 12 major league innings, he has a 6.75 ERA. He lowered his walk rate to 11.3% but his strikeout rate also fell to 17%. The results in Triple-A haven’t been especially impressive either, as he has a 9.61 ERA in 19 2/3 frames at that level. His 24.3% strikeout rate there is encouraging, but the 18.7% walk rate is obviously a problem.
The A’s will now have one week to try to trade him or pass him through waivers. The results are all over the place but he’s shown strikeout stuff at times and still has a couple of options. Any club that thinks they can fix Smith could potentially stash him in the minors for the rest of this year and another season as well.