- The Athletics’ pick of Matt Chapman with the 25th overall selection of the 2014 draft came about due to something of a “reverse Moneyball” situation, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal writes (subscription required). Chapman had only modest hitting numbers in college ball but his skillset was heavily praised by A’s scouts; unlike the events of the film and Michael Lewis’ book, Billy Beane and company decided to go against the statistics to choose Chapman, as a private workout for the team prior to the draft helped answer the front office’s concerns. The pick looks like a great one for the A’s, as Chapman has broken out into one of the game’s most promising young stars.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle examines Athletics closer Blake Treinen’s improved results since coming to Oakland last summer. The big righty has always shown phenomenal pure stuff in the majors, but had not quite figured out how to maximize it on the hill. While he’s handing out less walks than before, he’s also working in the zone less than in prior years. And he has generated less grounders (a still-impressive 53.3%) in exchange for a jump in swinging-strikes (all the way up to 18.8%). Treinen credits experience gained through “the maturation process.” Whatever the precise cause, the results — a 1.19 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 over 22 2/3 innings in 2018 — certainly suggest that he has settled in nicely.
The Athletics announced on Monday that they’ve designated catcher Dustin Garneau for assignment. His roster spot will go to fellow catcher Bruce Maxwell, who has been reinstated from the restricted list. Josh Phegley was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to open an active roster spot for Maxwell’s return.
Maxwell had been on the restricted list over the weekend due to the fact that his ongoing legal issues prevented him from traveling out of the country for the Athletics’ series in Toronto. In essence, however, Garneau’s DFA is largely a corresponding move for yesterday’s waiver claim of reliever Carlos Ramirez (also from Toronto). Had the Jays been playing in another location, they’d likely have designated Garneau to facilitate the claim anyhow in more direct fashion.
[Related: Oakland Athletics depth chart]
The 30-year-old Garneau has had a rough start to the season in Nashville, batting just .206/.253/.338 over the life of 75 plate appearances. That’s a departure from an otherwise strong (albeit Pacific Coast League-aided) track record in Triple-A for the former Rockies farmhand, as Garneau boasts a career .263/.331/.499 slash line at the minors’ top level. In the Majors, however, he’s mustered a meager .192/.264/.320 batting line in 277 trips to the plate. The A’s will now have seven days to trade Garneau or place him on either outright or release waivers.
With Maxwell back on the roster, he’ll continue to serve as the primary backup to starter Jonathan Lucroy. Phegley will head back to Triple-A, where he’s hitting .224/.320/.412 in 100 plate appearances. He’d be next in line in the event of another absence for either of the Athletics’ current top two catchers.
- Khris Davis and the Athletics were in talks about a one-year extension to cover Davis’ final season of arbitration eligibility, though Heyman reports that Davis declined an offer from the team. It isn’t known whether negotiations are ongoing or if the two sides will table the issue. Davis has a .235/.307/.497 slash line and 13 homers through his first 205 PA, so he is on pace to earn another big raise from his current $10.5MM salary in his last arb year.
- Athletics slugger Khris Davis left their game Sunday with a right groin strain, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The severity isn’t known, though Slusser points out that groin strains tend to take anywhere from two to six weeks to heal. A stint on the disabled list seems like a strong possibility, then, and that would be a tough development for the surging A’s. The club’s on its way to a 25-22 start, and Davis has certainly had a role in that with a .235/.307/.497 line and a team-high 13 homers in 205 PAs.
The Athletics have claimed right-hander Carlos Ramirez off waivers from the Blue Jays, per an announcement from Oakland.
Oakland will be the second organization for the 27-year-old Ramirez, who had been with the Blue Jays since 2009. Ramirez started off as an outfield prospect with the Jays before moving to the mound in 2014. He impressed enough as a minor league pitcher to reach the majors in 2017, and has since logged a combined 19 innings at the game’s highest level (2 1/3 this year). During that small sample of work, Ramirez posted a 2.84 ERA/4.84 FIP with 8.05 K/9, 3.79 BB/9 and a 33.3 percent groundball rate, but that wasn’t enough to prevent Toronto from designating him for assignment last week.
Given that Ramirez has three options remaining, he seems likely to start off as minors depth with the Athletics. The A’s currently have a full bullpen, and the unit has begun the year with the majors’ 12th-best ERA (3.82).
- Athletics right-hander Andrew Triggs exited tonight’s start in Toronto after just 2 1/3 innings due to what the team is calling nerve discomfort in his right forearm, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Presumably, he’ll head for further testing following the game, though the early diagnosis doesn’t sound especially promising. In the event of a DL trip for Triggs, the A’s could turn to righty Kendall Graveman, who is trying to get back on track in Triple-A after a rough start to the season. Right-hander Daniel Gossett has posted terrific numbers since being sent down to Nashville as well, while hard-throwing prospect Frankie Montas is also delivering solid production in Triple-A.
- The Athletics released outfielder/first baseman Slade Heathcott from their Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, per the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page. The former first-round pick was once considered one of the Yankees’ best prospects, but he’s appeared in just 17 big league games and collected 30 plate appearances (albeit with a strong .400/.429/.720 slash to show for it). Strong production in his brief cup of coffee notwithstanding, Heathcott has never been much of a force in the upper minors. After tearing through Class-A Advanced as a 21-year-old (.314/.382/.486), he’s slashed .258/.329/.415 in 205 Double-A games and .263/.338/.358 in 177 Triple-A contests. His numbers with Nashville this season — .266/.333/.376 in 120 PAs — are a near mirror image of his career stats at that level.
Trevor Cahill is set to return from the disabled list tomorrow after missing one start, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Athletics will have him displace Kendall Graveman in the rotation, she adds in a separate column. Graveman pitched reasonably well in his one start after a demotion to Triple-A, but the A’s still would like him to continue to round back into form in Nashville following a surprisingly ugly start to the season. As Slusser notes, Oakland could’ve dropped Brett Anderson from the rotation, but doing so would mean designating the lefty for assignment.
Graveman was optioned out to make room on the roster for the return of Stephen Piscotty — who homered in his first at-bat back with the team tonight — from the bereavement list. The Athletics will need to make another roster move to accommodate Cahill’s activation tomorrow, which could mean optioning Jake Smolinski to Nashville as well, per Slusser.
- The Athletics signed left-handed reliever Dean Kiekhefer, per Eddy. He’d recently been released by Cincinnati. The 28-year-old tossed 22 innings at the big league level with the Cardinals in 2016, working to a 5.32 ERA with 14 strikeouts against seven walks (four intentional) and two hit batters in that brief time. Kiekhefer landed with the Mariners via waivers in the 2016-17 offseason but was outrighted off their 40-man roster shortly thereafter. Last year, he logged a 4.47 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9 and a 46 percent grounder rate in Triple-A. He opened the season with eight innings of one-run ball in the Cincinnati organization, albeit at the Double-A level.