- Before the Rays traded for Nelson Cruz, the Athletics gave some consideration to acquiring the slugger themselves, Shayna Rubin of the Bay Area News Group writes. The A’s seemingly didn’t get close to a move, however, due to both the financial and prospect cost attached to Cruz, and Rubin wonders if payroll concerns in particular will keep the Athletics from making any particularly big deadline splashes. While spending is always an issue for the club, money could be tighter than ever now that the A’s no longer receive revenue-sharing money — as per the last collective bargaining agreement, the Athletics were gradually phased out of the league’s revenue-sharing plan over a multi-year period. That said, Billy Beane and company have been adept at finding lower-cost help at past deadlines, such Oakland’s trade for Tommy La Stella last year.
Here are the latest Day Two draft picks to sign with their teams. For more on the 2021 draft class, check out the prospect rankings and scouting reports compiled by Baseball America, Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, The Athletic’s Keith Law, and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. As well, here is MLB Pipeline’s breakdown of the slot values assigned to each pick in the first 10 rounds, as well as the bonus pool money available to all 30 teams.
All signings were reported by MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, unless specified otherwise.
- The Angels signed St. Mary’s College left-hander Ky Bush for a $1.75MM bonus, spending slightly beyond the 45th overall pick’s assigned value of $1,650,200.
- The Nationals signed Daylen Lile for $1.75MM, going a bit overslot ($1,580,200) for the 47th overall pick to get the high school outfielder to forego his commitment to Louisville.
- The White Sox went overslot to sign second-round pick Wes Kath, signing the high school third baseman for a $1.8MM bonus. The 57th overall selection has an assigned price of $1,243,600, but the Sox had some money to spare after going well underslot to sign college players picked within their first 10 selections.
- The Athletics signed University of Virginia third baseman Zack Gelof for $1,157,400, matching the slot price for the 60th overall pick. Oakland has now signed all of its picks from the first 10 rounds of the draft.
- The Royals signed 66th overall pick Peyton Wilson for an at-slot ($1,003,300) bonus. Wilson is listed as a second baseman, but Callis notes that the University Of Alabama product can also play catcher and center fielder.
- The Indians signed Florida right-hander Tommy Mace for $1.1MM, according to MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo. Mace’s bonus is above the $929.8K slot price for the 69th overall pick.
- The Orioles have reached agreements with 20 of their 21 picks, with some notable overslot bonuses among the signings Eighth-rounder Creed Willems had the most eye-opening number, as the high school catcher landed a $1MM bonus that went way over the $187.7K assigned slot price for the 227th pick. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports that the Orioles also went well above the $818.2K slot price for 76th overall pick John Rhodes, who signed for $1.375MM.
JULY 21: Against the A’s wishes, the Council approved the City’s tentative financial plan at yesterday’s meeting, albeit with an amendment that made clear the A’s would not be responsible for certain infrastructure improvements. (Ravani and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times were among those to cover the news). Kaval and Manfred expressed disappointment with the decision, although the next steps for the team remain unclear. Schaaf told reporters this afternoon she remained optimistic about keeping the A’s in Oakland.
Scott Boras, agent for A’s star third baseman Matt Chapman, addressed the ongoing saga this week. Boras implied that any extension negotiations with Chapman would wait until the stadium situation was resolved, telling Matt Kawahara of the Chronicle that “we’re going to see them take care of their infrastructure first and then address the player element later, I think.”
JULY 18: The City of Oakland released a proposed financial plan regarding development of a potential new waterfront stadium for the Athletics on Friday, reports Sarah Ravani of the San Francisco Chronicle. The A’s are unhappy with the terms, which team president Dave Kaval called a “step backwards” in the disucssions.
The Oakland City Council is set to hold a non-binding vote on Tuesday regarding the A’s proposal for a $12 billion mixed-use development plan, which includes the stadium. A “yes” vote from the Council wouldn’t finalize any sort of development agreement or term sheet, but it would allow the City and team to continue talks regarding the potential construction of a waterfront stadium at Oakland’s Howard Terminal, which the A’s have previously claimed to be the last viable ballpark location in Oakland. A “no” vote from the Council might kill the project entirely, Ravani writes.
Kaval suggested that approval of the City’s Friday proposal would be tantamount to a rejection of the A’s plan. However, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf pushed back against that characterization, saying the City’s proposal moves the project forward and expressing optimism about the parties’ ability to close the gap.
Unsurprisingly, it seems the biggest issue involves the extent of infrastructure taxes to finance the project. While the A’s have pushed for two infrastructure tax districts in their proposals, the City’s terms have thus far excluded the creation of a second district that would cover much of Jack London Square. Indeed, that’s the main impetus for the A’s criticism of the most recent proposal, Kaval told Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News. However, Ravani writes that the two sides have seemed to make progress on other issues regarding affordable housing and the length of a potential non-relocation agreement.
The City Council’s vote next week will take place against the looming threat of a potential relocation of the franchise. The A’s have been looking into the possibility of relocation since May, with Las Vegas appearing to be the most likely destination if they don’t come to an agreement with Oakland. Speaking with reporters during All-Star festivities this week, commissioner Rob Manfred called Vegas one of multiple “viable alternatives” for the A’s if a new deal with Oakland isn’t ultimately finalized.
The Athletics have agreed to terms with first-round pick Max Muncy, reports Carlos Collazo of Baseball America (via Twitter). Muncy, the No. 25 overall pick, will receive a $2.85MM bonus that sits a bit north of his $2,740,300 slot value.
Not to be confused with the Dodgers slugger (and 2012 A’s draftee) of the same name, Muncy is a high school shortstop out of Thousand Oaks High School in California. A late riser up draft boards, Muncy landed 26th on the pre-draft rankings of ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel and was generally ranked in the 35 to 50 range on prospect rankings at Baseball America, MLB.com, FanGraphs and The Athletic. He’d committed to Arkansas but will now forgo his college career to ink an above-slot deal with the A’s.
Muncy, 18, draws praise for his plus power, a strong throwing arm, above-average speed and the athleticism to play multiple other positions if outgrows shortstop. Like most high school draftees, there’s a good bit of projection (and risk) baked into the Muncy selection, but he’ll add a high-ceiling, potential middle infielder to the A’s system. He headlines a position-player heavy crop of Oakland draftees in 2021, as the A’s only took a pair of pitchers in their first 10 selections this year before focusing on arms in the back half of their draft class.
The Cubs announced they’ve claimed first baseman Frank Schwindel off waivers from the Athletics and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa. Oakland designated Schwindel for assignment earlier this week. The Cubs had a vacancy on the 40-man roster, so no additional move was necessary.
Oakland signed Schwindel to a minor league deal over the winter and selected him to the big league roster late last month. He only tallied twenty plate appearances with the A’s before they removed him from the 40-man when Mitch Moreland returned from the injured list.
Schwindel hasn’t yet had much of a look at the MLB level, but the 29-year-old has had a fantastic Triple-A season. Through 207 plate appearances with the A’s top affiliate in Las Vegas, Schwindel has hit .317/.362/.630 with sixteen home runs. Those numbers are no doubt aided by Vegas’ extremely hitter-friendly environment, but it’s eye-opening production nonetheless.
At the moment, the Cubs have first base spoken for in franchise icon Anthony Rizzo. An impending free agent, Rizzo has obviously come up in trade speculation with the Cubs looking likely to sell off from the big league roster over the coming weeks. Claiming Schwindel doesn’t make a Rizzo trade any more likely; Schwindel still has all three minor league option years remaining and is probably being brought on as a right-handed hitting bench bat. If the Cubs do wind up dealing Rizzo, though, that could afford Schwindel a greater path to playing time than he had in Oakland, where Matt Olson had first base locked down.
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN reported the news shortly before the official announcement.
Athletics’ general manager David Forst recently spoke to Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle to discuss the state of the team coming out of the All-Star break and moving towards the July 30 trade deadline. The club is planning on making additions, which is unsurprising given that they are currently holding down a wild card spot and are also just 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Astros in the AL West.
More specifically, the team seems to be focused on bullpen upgrades, a need that was recently exacerbated by Trevor Rosenthal’s season-ending surgery. “It’s a little different math now that Trevor’s not going to be part of this group in August and September,” Forst said. “But I think we still see the bullpen as a place we would hope to augment.” Forst and the A’s will seemingly be quite open-minded as to the kind of relievers they target, not worrying about specific roles they have played. “I think our focus is just on best pitchers available and not necessarily guys who have experience closing.”
Even without Rosenthal, the bullpen has held relatively steady in Oakland. Their collective 3.92 ERA is good enough for 11th in the league. But advanced metrics are a bit more skeptical of that mark, with FIP putting them at 4.27 and xFIP at 4.73.
And there could be some help coming from their minor league clubs. Forst says he sees A.J. Puk as “being someone that gets called on up here” and Jesus Luzardo could be an option but “he obviously needs to get some things straightened out down there before he’s a consideration to come back.”
Of course, with the A’s, the budget is always a question. Roster Resource currently estimates the payroll to be $86MM. The team has gone above that in recent years, but not by much. According to Cot’s Contracts, they’ve gone as high as $95MM, in 2019. If the team is willing to go to that range again, that certainly leaves room for shrewd bullpen additions.
But what about a bigger splash? Shortstop stands out as an area of need. Oakland’s shortstops have produced a wRC+ of 61 and an fWAR of -0.1, both numbers putting the team near the bottom of the league. And those are primarily attributable to Elvis Andrus, who has started 87 of Oakland’s 94 games thus far. However, Forst seems uninterested in entertaining the idea of moving on from Andrus. “Elvis is the shortstop,” Forst said. “His defense has been outstanding, his energy and positivity in the clubhouse never waned. I know Bob will tell you how valuable he’s been off the field and his on-field play the last six weeks has absolutely matched that.” These statements always have to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. A public statement could be part of a negotiation strategy that belies the club’s true intents.
But even if the A’s do try to find a new shortstop, it will be more challenging than upgrading the bullpen, given their aforementioned budget-consciousness. Trevor Story is widely believed to be traded this month. But he’s still owed more than $6MM of his $18.5MM salary. Javier Baez is slightly more affordable, with about $4MM remaining of his $11.65MM salary. But it’s still possible the Cubs could retain and extend him. Andrelton Simmons has a salary of $10.5MM but isn’t a huge upgrade over Andrus, given his wRC+ of 73 and fWAR of 0.1 this year. Of course, Andrus himself is making $14MM this season, which could allow the A’s to include him as ballast and increase the prospect payout to keep a deal relatively financially-neutral.
Adding a reliever would be much simpler. Looking at the trade candidates laid out last month by MLBTR’s Steve Adams, the top relievers on the list are Richard Rodriguez, Ian Kennedy, Kendall Graveman and Yimi Garcia. Of that group, the highest paid is Kennedy, with a salary of $2.15MM this year, leaving less than a million to be paid out. A slight shakeup in the bullpen could help the A’s strengthen the relief corps as they try to charge into a pennant race.
The A’s announced they’ve reinstated first baseman Mitch Moreland from the COVID-19 injured list. To open space on the active and 40-man rosters, fellow first baseman Frank Schwindel has been designated for assignment.
Moreland landed on the COVID IL on July 4. The left-handed hitter now returns to his designated hitter/first base role, where he’s been a bit disappointing to this point. Moreland is hitting .238/.286/.388 with six home runs across 175 plate appearances this season, a downturn from his .265/.342/.551 mark split between the Red Sox and Padres in 2020.
Schwindel was selected to the big league roster late last month. He struggled in a very brief look of twenty plate appearances before being removed. Oakland will now have a week to trade the 29-year-old or expose him to waivers. Schwindel has very little big league experience under his belt, but the right-handed hitter has mashed at a .317/.362/.630 clip with sixteen homers over 207 plate appearances with Triple-A Las Vegas this season.
The Athletics announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Jacob Wilson from Triple-A Las Vegas and placed Chad Pinder on the 10-day injured list due to a hamstring strain. A’s skipper Bob Melvin tells reporters that Pinder’s injury is going to sideline him “awhile,” noting that the strain is in the middle of the hamstring muscle and that such injuries are “probably at least a month” (Twitter link via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle).
Wilson, 30, will be making his MLB debut nine years after being selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the 2012 draft. He’s since bounced to the Nationals for a few seasons and also spent a year with the Korea Baseball Organization’s Lotte Giants. After inking a minor league deal over the winter, he headed to Vegas and has mashed at a .288/.385/.630 clip while slugging 14 home runs, 17 doubles and a pair of triples in 218 plate appearances.
Wilson has played all over the diamond in his pro career, though his primary positions have been second base and third base. He’s also logged nearly 500 innings at first base, and the A’s have been giving him time in left field so far in 2021 as well. He’ll give them a right-handed bat to help cover for Pinder’s absence. In 1409 career plate appearances at the Triple-A level, Wilson is a .263/.341/.462 hitter.
This is the second IL stint of the season for Pinder, who missed more than a month earlier in the year thanks to a left knee sprain. The 29-year-old has been a versatile and valuable role player for the A’s in recent years, but he’s struggling through the least-productive season of his MLB tenure to date, batting just .216/.269/.358 with the second-highest strikeout rate (27.6 percent) and second-lowest walk rate (5.5 percent) of his career.
Athletics reliever Trevor Rosenthal tore a labrum in his hip and will require surgery, manager Bob Melvin told reporters (including Shayna Rubin of the San Jose Mercury News). He won’t pitch at all in 2021.
It will go down as a completely lost season for Rosenthal, who began the year on the injured list with shoulder soreness. Further evaluation revealed he’d need to undergo surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, which he did in early April. The hope had been that Rosenthal would be able to return at some point in August, but his new injury obviously forecloses that possibility.
It’s a horrible development for Rosenthal, who has had a few recent seasons derailed by injury. The former Cardinals closer suffered a UCL tear in 2017 that required Tommy John surgery. He lost all of 2018 rehabbing and looked nothing like himself when he returned the following season. Rosenthal walked an astounding 30.6% of opposing hitters with the Nationals and Tigers that year, forcing him to settle for a minor league contract with the Royals over the 2019-20 offseason.
Remarkably, Rosenthal completely reversed his fortunes to be among the top relievers in baseball last year. He cracked the Kansas City roster and pitched well enough to attract the interest of the contending Padres, who acquired him in advance of the trade deadline. Between the two clubs, Rosenthal pitched to a 1.90 ERA over 23 2/3 innings, striking out a whopping 41.8% of opponents while walking a lower than average 8.8%.
That positioned Rosenthal as one of the top free agent relievers in last winter’s class. He lingered on the market until late February, when the A’s stepped up and landed him on a one-year, $11MM contract. It was a surprising reversal from Oakland’s otherwise thrifty offseason, which included the team declining to make $18.9MM qualifying offers to star reliever Liam Hendriks and shortstop Marcus Semien.
The A’s will ultimately get no return on that investment, as Rosenthal’s unfortunate injury woes will keep him from donning the green and gold in a meaningful game. His contract contained a series of deferrals — Rosenthal is making just $3MM in 2021, followed by $3MM in 2022 and $5MM in 2023 — but he’ll again reach the open market this winter.
It’s not yet clear whether Rosenthal is expected to be ready for Spring Training in 2022. Given the injury-wrecked campaign, it’s plausible he’ll need to throw in front of scouts to demonstrate his health before he lands a new deal. Rosenthal is still just 31 years old and was brilliant when last able to take the mound, so it stands to reason there’ll be interest from teams if/when he works his way back to full strength.
The eight-man field is set for the 2021 Home Run Derby. Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani, Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story, Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini, Royals catcher Salvador Pérez, Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto and Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo will compete in the event.
Ohtani has been perhaps baseball’s biggest story in 2021. The two-way star has a league-best thirty-one home runs and looks like the early favorite to win the AL MVP award. Alonso, who won the most recent Derby in 2019, will be looking to defend his title. The right-handed slugger has popped fifteen homers this year. Story figures to be the fan favorite with All-Star festivities taking place in Denver. The 28-year-old has hit 11 longballs this season. It’ll be an emotional sight to see Mancini on such a big stage. He missed all of last season battling colon cancer but made it back this year and has popped fifteen homers.
Pérez has been the game’s most powerful catcher. He leads all backstops with twenty homers and he’ll get the starting nod behind the plate for the American League in the All-Star game. Olson has also hit twenty dingers this year and will represent the playoff-contending A’s in the All-Star game. Gallo, who’ll join Ohtani, Pérez and Olson on the AL All-Star team, has been on an absolute tear over the last month, bringing his season total in homers up to twenty-three. Soto only has ten home runs this season, but he’s been one of the game’s best hitters since reaching the majors as a 19-year-old in 2018.
The Home Run derby will take place at Denver’s Coors Field on Monday, July 12.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Gallo’s inclusion.