The A’s have claimed right-hander Spenser Watkins off waivers from the Astros, as first reported by Jessica Kleinschmidt (Twitter link). He’ll been assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas for the time being. Houston designated Watkins for assignment over the weekend when Jose Urquidy was reinstated from the 60-day injured list.
Watkins, 30, has a bit of major league experience but has been stuck in the minors all year. He tossed 160 innings for the Orioles over 2021 and 2022, allowing 5.85 earned runs per nine innings in that time. He only struck out 13.7% of batters faced but his 6.9% walk rate was quite strong.
This year, the O’s optioned him to Triple-A Norfolk at the end of Spring Training. He spent about a month on the minor league injured list and had only tossed 26 innings for the Tides with a 7.27 ERA by mid-June. He was designated for assignment and flipped to the Astros for cash. He tossed 20 1/3 innings for Triple-A Sugar Land with a 9.74 ERA, before getting his second DFA of the year this past weekend.
The results this year haven’t been great, but it’s likely not quite as bad as his combined 8.35 ERA would indicate. His .386 batting average on balls in play and 55.4% strand rate are both on the unlucky side of average, leading to a 5.27 FIP that’s much more palatable. The most recent chunk of his season was also spent in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, which likely didn’t do him any favors.
The A’s are the worst team in baseball, with a 32-81 record and .283 winning percentage. Their pitching staff has a collective 5.82 ERA that’s easily the worst in the majors. Watkins can provide them with a depth arm that has a bit of major league experience under his belt. He’s in his final option year and will be out of options next season, though he’s yet to reach arbitration and can potentially be controlled for five seasons beyond this one.