- Righty Jesse Hahn is set to receive the Athletics’ first start this spring, as Susan Slusser notes on Twitter. That’s a solid indication that he’s under serious consideration for the fifth starters’ role, she notes. The 27-year-old is looking to bounce back after a rough 2016 campaign in which he pitched to a 6.02 ERA with just 4.5 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 in his 46 1/3 MLB innings. Hahn had generated quality results in his first two MLB campaigns, which occurred on both sides of a trade that sent him to Oakland from the Padres in exchange for catcher Derek Norris. But elbow troubles interrupted his 2015 campaign, and he has yet to get back on track.
- The Athletics may not go with a single closer in 2017, skipper Bob Melvin told reporters including MLB.com’s Jane Lee (Twitter link). Lefty Sean Doolittle and righty Ryan Madson have both handled the job in the recent past for Oakland, while the just-signed Santiago Casilla did the same for the cross-town Giants in recent years and John Axford also has spent plenty of time in the late innings. It’s perhaps imaginable that the less-experienced Ryan Dull could see some chances after a strong 2016.
- There was some good health news out of Athletics camp, as catcher Josh Phegley was cleared for full duty behind the plate, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Phegley had struggled with knee inflammation after undergoing surgery, causing him to miss the second half of the 2016 season, but a change in his stance will hopefully resolve that issue. Oakland is counting on a bounceback campaign from the 29-year-old.
- Athletics lefty Felix Doubront threw a pen for the first time today since his Tommy John surgery about ten months back, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. It’s not clear as yet what kind of timeline can be expected for the southpaw, though it’s certainly promising that he was deemed ready to get on the hill. Doubront re-signed with the A’s on a minor-league pact this offseason.
The Athletics announced today that righty Daniel Mengden has undergone surgery on his righty foot after suffering a fracture during a home bullpen session. He’ll require a walking boot for at least six weeks, with further rehab presumably required beyond that point.
Clearly, Mengden won’t be able to participate in Spring Training, which is set to open for A’s pitchers and catchers in less than a week. Even if he’s able to get back on the hill not long after the boot comes off, he’ll need some time to build back his arm strength. Odds are, then, that Mengden won’t be an option for Oakland until at least a month or so into the 2017 season.
The expectation had been that Mengden, who’ll soon turn 24, would battle for a spot in the rotation. He cracked the majors for the first time in 2016 after a quick run through the minors, but scuffled to a 6.50 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in his 72 innings. Still, the strikeout rate was fairly promising and Mengden’s track record suggests that the control won’t continue to be an issue.
Given the injury, he’ll now need to reestablish his spot in the pecking order and hope that an opportunity arises at some point during the year. In the meantime, the organization now seems likely to turn to Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, and Andrew Triggs to round out a staff fronted by Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea. The other 40-man members who could compete for a starting job are Jesse Hahn, Frankie Montas, and Paul Blackburn.
- The Athletics have signed minor-league deals with two young Cuban players, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. Righty Luis Miguel Romero and outfielder Enry Pantojas have both joined the Oakland organization. Neither player has received much in the way of prospect attention, so there’s little public information available. The 23-year-old Romero last appeared in Cuba’s Serie Nacionale in 2015, when he pitched to a 3.31 ERA over 35 1/3 innings and managed just 23 strikeouts to go with 16 walks. Of course, that was just his age-21 campaign. Pantojas, who just turned twenty, has even less of a track record. He hit .304/.429/.348 in Cuba’s top league back in 2015, but that came over just thirty plate appearances.
Khris Davis has won his arbitration hearing against the Athletics, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). As a result, the Oakland left fielder/designated hitter will earn $5MM instead of the $4.65MM figure submitted by the team. Davis is represented by Octagon.
The 29-year-old Davis, acquired in a trade with the Brewers last offseason, had a breakout campaign at the plate with the A’s in 2016, hitting .247/.307/.524 with a career-best 42 home runs. That gaudy home run total undoubtedly aided Davis’ case, as did the fact that he set new career-highs in games played (150), plate appearances (610) and RBIs (102). Ultimately, his $5MM salary ends up as an exact match with the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
This marked the first trip through the arbitration process for Davis, who remains controlled for another three seasons. He’ll be eligible for arbitration twice more before qualifying as a free agent upon completion of the 2019 campaign. Davis was the last remaining arbitration case for the A’s, who have now determined salaries for all five of their arb-eligible players (MLBTR Arb Tracker link).
Athletics slugger Khris Davis had his arbitration hearing yesterday, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first tweeted, and the results should become known later today. The 29-year-old Davis was somewhat quietly a nice addition for the A’s, hitting .247/.307/.524 with a career-best 42 home runs in 610 trips to the plate. Oakland submitted a $4.65MM figure in arbitration, while Davis’ camp was seeking $5MM (as is shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). While the difference in figures seems largely trivial to most fans, there’s obviously a notable difference to Davis both this year and moving forward, as a higher 2017 mark will bode better for future arbitration raises. For those interested in the team side of the matter, I spoke to multiple GMs and assistant GMs about arbitration from the team angle a couple of years ago.
Athletics right-hander Sonny Gray endured an injury-plagued 2016 in which his production declined sharply, thereby hurting his trade value. Gray isn’t far removed from an ace-like stretch from 2013-15, though, and a rebound this year would increase the likelihood of the A’s trading him during the season, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. While general manager David Forst would like Gray to spend the next decade in an A’s uniform, the two sides haven’t engaged in any extension talks, reports Slusser (Twitter links). Gray, 28, is controllable via arbitration through the 2019 campaign and will make $3.58MM this season.
- The Athletics are unlikely to make any further roster alterations leading up spring training, according to Forst (Twitter link via John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group). If the A’s are indeed done for the offseason, outfielders Matt Joyce and Rajai Davis, reliever Santiago Casilla and third baseman Trevor Plouffe will go down as their winter haul.
- It seems that the Athletics are set to utilize Jed Lowrie as their regular option at second, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter. Manager Bob Melvin says it’s Lowrie’s job so long as he’s healthy. Oakland has received positive indications on Lowrie’s recovery from foot surgery. The 32-year-old will also be looking to bounce back from a tepid year at the plate.
The Mariners announced that they’ve acquired left-hander Dillon Overton from the Athletics in exchange for minor league catcher Jason Goldstein. To make room on the 40-man roster, Seattle designated catcher Jesus Sucre for assignment. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported that Overton could be on the way to Seattle (on Twitter). The A’s had just designated Overton for assignment earlier this week when they signed veteran infielder Adam Rosales to a one-year deal.
Oakland’s second-round pick in 2013, the 25-year-old Overton made his Major League debut in 2016 but struggled to an ERA of 11.47 in 24 1/3 innings. He did have a solid campaign in Triple-A Nashville last season, however, racking up 125 1/3 innings of 3.29 ERA ball. Overton also averaged 7.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 to go along with a 34.9 percent ground-ball rate in his time at Triple-A.
As recently as the 2015-16 offseason, Baseball America ranked Overton as the Athletics’ No. 8 prospect, though their assessment noted that Overton’s success would be determined by how much velocity he could regain following 2013 Tommy John surgery. Overton worked in the mid-90s in college but was in the upper 80s following his operation. The velocity seemingly never returned, as he averaged just 88.3 mph on his heater last year.
Overton has performed well at every minor league stop, though, and he has minor league options remaining, meaning the Mariners can send him back to Triple-A for further refinement. The Mariners’ rotation is full with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo all occupying spots. Left-hander Ariel Miranda is also on hand as an option in the case of injury, though he’s probably ticketed for long relief work to open the season.
Goldstein, 22, was the Mariners’ ninth-round pick just last summer. The Illinois native opened his pro career with Seattle’s affiliate in the Rookie-level Arizona League and finished out the year in short-season Class-A. Goldstein had just 68 total plate appearances in his brief time, hitting .279/.328/.311 in that time. He also threw out seven of the 14 runners that attempted to steal against him. Heading into the draft, Baseball America noted that he had limited power but handles a pitching staff well. Goldstein is no stranger to catching high-caliber arms, as he was the battery mate of 2015 first-rounder Tyler Jay (Twins) and 2016 first-rounder Cody Sedlock (Orioles) in college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sucre, 28, was out of options and looked to be a long shot to make the Mariners’ roster with both Mike Zunino and Carlos Ruiz ahead of him on the depth chart. (Seattle also claimed catcher Tuffy Gosewisch off waivers from Atlanta earlier today.) Sucre has excelled at throwing out baserunners in his career (35 percent) and typically receives average to above-average marks for his pitch-framing skills. However, he’s yet to produce at the plate in parts of four seasons in the Majors, batting .209/.246/.276 in 264 PAs.