The A’s have selected the contract of left-hander Sean Newcomb, the team announced. Fellow lefty Hogan Harris was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas in his place, while left-hander Richard Lovelady was moved from the 15-day IL to the 60-day IL to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Oakland just acquired Newcomb from the Giants yesterday in a trade sending minor league outfielder Trenton Brooks back to San Francisco.
As noted at the time of the trade yesterday, it seemed quite likely Newcomb would be in line for a look at the big league level with the A’s sooner than later. He’d be a free agent at season’s end if not added to the 40-man roster, so there was little sense in making a trade to acquire him if the plan wasn’t to see if he could contribute for them. He has 4.073 years of big league service, so he won’t have enough time remaining this season to get to five years. As such, if Newcomb can pitch well enough to hold a 40-man spot, the A’s would control him for an additional two seasons beyond the current year.
The 30-year-old Newcomb has pitched to a 3.16 ERA and fanned 30.5% of his opponents through 31 1/3 Triple-A frames this season, though his longstanding command issues have persisted as well (15.3% walk rate). Traditionally more of a fly-ball pitcher, Newcomb is sporting a huge 59.4% ground-ball rate in Triple-A this season.
In 406 big league innings, Newcomb has a 4.52 ERA, though he’s now nearly five years removed from the majority of his MLB success. The headline prospect acquired by the Braves in the trade that sent Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim, Newcomb posted a combined 3.87 ERA and 23% strikeout rate in his first 332 1/3 Major League innings. He looked to have cemented his status on the Braves’ pitching staff at that point, but Newcomb was blasted for 17 runs in 13 2/3 innings over four starts in the shortened 2020 season and has yet to recover. Dating back to 2020, he has a 7.45 ERA in 73 2/3 frames at the big league level.
The A’s, on the lookout for pitching help they can control beyond the current season, will see whether Newcomb’s new ground-ball approach can lead to better results in the big leagues. He’ll still need to improve his command, but Newcomb’s blend of missed bats and grounders is at least somewhat intriguing.