Oakland Athletics – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 19 Apr 2018 00:02:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Athletics Designate Trayce Thompson For Assignment https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-designate-trayce-thompson-for-assignment.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-designate-trayce-thompson-for-assignment.html#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:22:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120254 The Athletics have designated outfielder Trayce Thompson for assignment, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle was among those to tweet. His roster spot was needed with starter Trevor Cahill and reliever Lou Trivino coming to the majors.

Thompson has already bounced from the Dodgers to the Yankees and then on to the A’s via the waiver wire, so it’s possible he will again be on the move. If is not traded and clears waivers, Oakland will presumably look to stash him at Triple-A.

The 27-year-old outfielder only got into three games in his short time with the Athletics, striking out four times in his seven plate appearances. Thompson also struggled at the plate last year with the Dodgers and their top affiliate. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he slashed .212/.269/.363 with nine home runs in his 369 plate appearances.

Athletics To Recall Trevor Cahill https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-ohtani-profar-cahill-mariners.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-ohtani-profar-cahill-mariners.html#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2018 16:05:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120221
  • The Athletics will call on right-hander Trevor Cahill to take the ball in tonight’s game against the White Sox, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee writes. Oakland brought Cahill back to the organization on a one-year, $1.5MM deal late in Spring Training after it was learned that young righty Jharel Cotton would require Tommy John surgery. The veteran Cahill, who broke into the Majors with the A’s back in 2009, has made a pair of starts in the minors as he builds up arm strength and tossed 83 pitches in his most recent outing, Lee notes. Manager Bob Melvin said that the right-hander might be able to go a bit longer than that this time out, though it obviously Cahill’s performance will dictate what type of leash he’s given.
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    A’s Reportedly Approached Matt Chapman About Extension https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-rumors-matt-chapman-extension-scott-boras.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-rumors-matt-chapman-extension-scott-boras.html#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 14:20:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120127 The Athletics have been rumored to have interest in pursuing long-term deals with corner infielders Matt Olson and Matt Chapman in the past, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A’s did indeed approach Chapman’s camp about an extension at some point. However, agent Scott Boras informed the club that there’s no interest in discussing an extension at this time.

    That Oakland already has interest in locking up Chapman beyond his standard level of club control is hardly a surprise; the 24-year-old has flashed one of the most dynamic gloves in all of baseball in his short time in the big leagues (+22 Defensive Runs Saved, +12.2 Ultimate Zone Rating in 868 innings) in addition to plenty of promise at the dish. Chapman hit .234/.313/.472 in 326 plate appearances last season, and he’s significantly reduced his strikeout rate in 2018 (from 28.2 percent to 16.4 percent) while slashing a robust .333/.403/.650 through his first 67 trips to the plate. It’s not clear whether Chapman was approached before or during the current season, but it’s certainly easy to see why the A’s believe him to be a potential cornerstone.

    While Chapman is controlled through the 2023 season at present, the Athletics also have a well-documented history of trading players before they reach the end of their CBA-allotted level of team control (as Slusser notes). Josh Donaldson, Sonny Gray, Josh Reddick, Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill and others have been shipped out by the A’s over the past five to six years before reaching the open market — some by just a few months (Reddick) but some as many as three to four years in advance of free agency (Donaldson). An extension for Chapman certainly wouldn’t preclude an eventual trade (as Cahill exemplifies), but establishing cost certainty at a reasonable rate would certainly enhance the chances, especially if the team can indeed secure a new stadium deal around the time that Chapman is presently slotted to hit free agency.

    Extensions for players with under a year of big league service time are rare but not unheard of, as Spring Training 2018 made abundantly clear. Paul DeJong’s six-year, $26MM deal with the Cardinals set a new benchmark for players with under a year of big league service back in March, and the Phillies even more aggressively brokered an extension with Scott Kingery before the 24-year-old had played a single game in the Majors. One would imagine that both could be data points in any future talks that arise between the A’s and Boras, though the price will only go up as Chapman accrues more service time and delivers further production at the big league level.

    Boras, of course, has a reputation for advising his clients to go through the arbitration process and reach free agency as early as possible, though there have been exceptions to that general guideline. Jered Weaver, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Gomez and Elvis Andrus are among the Boras clients that have signed long-term deals while in their arbitration or pre-arbitration years.

    Such deals require mutual interest, though, and as Slusser examines at greater length in the focal point of her column, Oakland’s paltry attendance figures don’t do the club any favors when trying to convince young talent to stay around. Slusser speaks with team president Dave Kaval, second baseman Jed Lowrie and others in highlighting not only the team’s 2018 attendance struggles, but also an unorthodox upcoming promotion in which the A’s are hosting a home game that is free to the public.

    Rangers Claim Renato Nunez, Move Tim Lincecum To 60-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/rangers-claim-renato-nunez-move-tim-lincecum-to-60-day-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/rangers-claim-renato-nunez-move-tim-lincecum-to-60-day-dl.html#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2018 20:20:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120089 The Rangers have claimed infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez from the Athletics and transferred right-hander Tim Lincecum from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL, Texas executive vice president of communications John Blake announced.

    Given that he’s out of options, the 24-year-old Nunez entered spring training in a do-or-die position, but he wasn’t able to seriously vie for a roster spot after suffering a left hamstring strain early in camp. It wouldn’t have helped his cause, anyway, that the Athletics are set at his two main positions with first baseman Matt Olson and third baseman Matt Chapman.

    Nunez also has some major league experience at second base and in the outfield, though he has only collected 38 plate appearances in MLB. The majority of his time has been spent at the Triple-A level, where he has batted .241/.301/.461 in 1,110 PAs. Nunez seems unlikely to garner much playing time with his new team, which has Joey Gallo at first and Adrian Beltre at third, though second baseman Rougned Odor is on the disabled list.

    Meanwhile, Texas’ pitching staff will continue to go without Lincecum, who has been dealing with blister issues since March. The Giants icon and two-time Cy Young winner, who signed a $1MM deal with the Rangers just over a month ago, could be a bullpen piece for Texas when he’s ready to take the mound again. He last pitched in the majors on Aug. 5, 2016, as a member of the Angels.

    Liam Hendriks To DL, But He Nearly Lost 40-Man Spot https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/west-notes-astros-dodgers-as-giants-mariners.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/west-notes-astros-dodgers-as-giants-mariners.html#comments Sun, 15 Apr 2018 00:37:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120025
  • The Athletics sent righty reliever Liam Hendriks to the disabled list on Saturday with adductor tendinitis in his groin. Before that, he was in danger of being designated for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Hendriks was a solid reliever for the A’s from 2016-17, but he then gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks over his first three innings this year and dealt with a drop in velocity. The injury had something to do with that, according to Hendriks. “It was always kind of there and I felt like I was doing everything right,” he said, “but I went back and looked at the video and my mechanics were completely different, trying to overcompensate.”
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    Bruce Maxwell Reaches Plea Agreement https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/bruce-maxwell-reaches-plea-agreement.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/bruce-maxwell-reaches-plea-agreement.html#comments Fri, 13 Apr 2018 17:23:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119891 The Athletics announced on Friday that backup catcher Bruce Maxwell has reached a plea agreement with the State of Arizona, pleading guilty to disorderly conduct (a class 6 undesignated offense). He’ll be placed on probation and be required to complete community service, with a formal sentencing set for June 4. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that it’s possible Major League Baseball could still impose further punishment on Maxwell, as the Commissioner’s Office prefers to wait for criminal proceedings to conclude before passing its own judgment.

    “Accepting responsibility is the first step in working to make amends for my lapse in judgment,” said Maxwell in a statement. “I am truly sorry for the pain that my actions have caused, and while they are not representative of who I am, I understand that I have to earn back the trust and respect of those around me.”

    Maxwell was arrested back on Oct. 28 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct after waving a gun at a delivery person at his home in Scottsdale. He’d been slated for an Aug. 9 trial if today’s settlement meeting — his second such meeting — did not yield a plea agreement.

    Oakland general manager David Forst voiced a commitment to Maxwell this offseason even in the face of the charges brought forth against him, though the Athletics ultimately found a value on which they didn’t feel they could pass, signing Jonathan Lucroy to a one-year deal worth $6.5MM. That acquisition pushed Maxwell into a more limited role with the club, though Forst again spoke of Maxwell as a potential long-term member of the A’s organization today.

    “I am pleased Bruce has taken responsibility for his actions,” said Forst in the press release announcing the agreement. “We expect our players to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the standards of the Oakland Athletics. His conduct in this incident did not live up to that. We have communicated with him throughout the legal process about our expectations as a representative of the organization. I believe he has already begun the work of making amends for his actions and look forward to his continued positive contributions to our community.”

    Athletics’ A.J. Puk Undergoes Tommy John Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-a-j-puk-undergoes-tommy-john-surgery.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-a-j-puk-undergoes-tommy-john-surgery.html#comments Wed, 11 Apr 2018 22:12:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119758 The A’s announced on Wednesday that top pitching prospect A.J. Puk underwent Tommy John surgery yesterday to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the procedure on the highly touted southpaw, who will now be out for the entirety of the 2018 season.

    The news isn’t a shock at this point, as Puk was originally recommended for Tommy John surgery back in late March after initially complaining of biceps soreness. Further testing revealed the problem to be ligament-related, and two doctors recommended that he undergo the season-ending procedure.

    Puk, 23 later this month, was the sixth overall pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of Florida. The former Gators ace quickly ascended through the Athletics’ minor league system, tossing a combined 125 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season. In that time, he logged a 4.03 ERA with a gaudy 13.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 while displaying above-average ground-ball tendencies. Entering the season, Puk was touted as one of the game’s top overall prospects, with Baseball America, Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus all tabbing him 30th overall, while MLB.com pegged him 32nd. ESPN’s Keith Law was the most bullish on Puk, ranking him 13th overall.

    The towering 6’7″, 220-pound lefty showed well in Spring Training, working to a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 frames in big league camp and prompting some to speculate upon whether he could be an option for the Opening Day rotation — or at the very least a candidate to join the starting mix early on in the 2018 season. Instead, the A’s will now see their top prospect lose a full year of development, though it’s not difficult to envision him making an impact late in the 2019 season if his rehab goes according to plan.

    Trayce Thompson On Waiver Process, Joining A's https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-healy-bradford-hamels-thompson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-west-notes-healy-bradford-hamels-thompson.html#comments Mon, 09 Apr 2018 18:42:11 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119579
  • Trayce Thompson thought several years ago that he could be included as part of the prospect package the White Sox sent to the Athletics to acquire Jeff Samardzija, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Marcus Semien eventually headlined a package that did not include Thompson, but Oakland eventually got their hands on him over the weekend by claiming him off waivers from the Yankees. Thompson is thrilled to be reunited with Semien, one of his closest friends, and to be playing in the Bay Area, where his brother Klay stars for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. “It was a long week for sure, one of the longest weeks of my life,” said Thompson, who was placed on waivers by two different teams last week. “When the Yankees got me, initially I thought it was a good opportunity, they have a lot of guys hurt and stuff … Then they told me their plan to try to spin me back through waivers and maybe get me to Triple-A — that’s not the news as a baseball player you want to hear.” Thompson acknowledges that he could once again be the odd man out in Oakland in the near future and speaks about the roller-coaster-like feeling of being on the bubble of multiple big league rosters in an interview that’s well worth a read for some insight into the human component of MLB transactions.
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    Injury Notes: Powell, Ramirez, Blackmon, Rodriguez, Indians https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-powell-ramirez-blackmon-rodriguez-indians.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-powell-ramirez-blackmon-rodriguez-indians.html#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2018 13:58:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119511 Athletics outfielder Boog Powell is headed to the DL after suffering a knee sprain, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The left-handed-hitting Powell has hit just .167/.200/.292 in the first week of the season, though he did impress with a 135 wRC+ in limited action with the A’s last season. Powell beat out top prospect Dustin Fowler for the starting center field job during spring training, but he’ll now be absent for at least ten days while rehabbing.

    Other injury notes from around baseball…

    • Maria Guardado of MLB.com tweets that Angels righty J.C. Ramirez exited his most recent start with “forearm tightness”. It’s highly disturbing news for the Halos; Ramirez was diagnosed with a partially-torn UCL in his throwing elbow last season, but elected to go with stem cell surgery rather than opt for a Tommy John procedure. Ramirez has thrown 6 2/3 innings this season; he’s struck out four opposing hitters while allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and seven walks.
    • Rockies star Charlie Blackmon is dealing with some back spasms, but told reporters he is not injured (h/t Nick Groke of the Denver Post). “It was a little bit tight for most of the game and kept getting tighter. I’ve dealt with it before and been all right.” Blackmon, of course, just signed an extension with Colorado and is a key component to their contention plans this season.
    • The Red Sox have officially activated left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez from the 10-day disabled list. Right-hander Marcus Walden has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in a related move. Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes that Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson are expected to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being, as the Sox have a number of off days coming up; those days will eliminate the need for a fifth starter for the time being. The 25-year-old pitched to a 4.19 ERA last season in 137 1/3 innings last season, and is coming off a winter knee surgery.
    • Jordan Bastian of MLB.com has the latest updates on a number of Indians injuries. Right-hander Danny Salazar (shoulder) is still unable to throw off a mound with “full intensity”, so he’s still a few weeks away from game activity. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela (hamstring), on the other hand, is just a week away from possibly starting a minor-league rehab assignment. Left-hander Ryan Merritt (knee) has resumed throwing and is scheduled to pitch an extended spring game on Wednesday, while righty Cody Anderson (elbow) is finally back to throwing off a mound following Tommy John surgery in March of 2017; he’s “several week away” from potential game activity. Of these four players, only Anderson has a minor-league option remaining, meaning the Tribe will be facing a significant roster crunch in the near future. In other Tribe injury news, Lonnie Chisenhall has officially been placed on the 10-day DL. Tyler Naquin has been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take his place (h/t Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal.
    Athletics Claim Trayce Thompson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-claim-trayce-thompson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/athletics-claim-trayce-thompson.html#comments Sat, 07 Apr 2018 20:45:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119300 SATURDAY: Thompson has officially joined the 25-man roster, with the A’s announcing that righty Daniel Gossett has been optioned to Triple-A to make room.

    THURSDAY: The Athletics have claimed outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the Yankees, per a club announcement. Thompson had only recently joined the New York organization after being claimed from the Dodgers.

    Oakland has bumped righty Paul Blackburn to the 60-day DL to open a roster spot. Because he is out of options, Thompson will need to join the active roster, unless the A’s decide to try to squeeze him through waivers — as the Yanks just did, unsuccessfully.

    Thompson, 27, could fulfill a reserve outfielder role for an Oakland organization that is currently sporting a three-man bench. He struggled quite a bit in 2017, of course, and followed that up with a miserable stint in the Cactus League. But Thompson was an effective player in the 2016 campaign, when he turned in 262 plate appearances of .225/302/.436 hitting with good glovework and top-of-the-line baserunning.

    A’s To Promote Franklin Barreto, Place Chad Pinder On 10-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/as-to-promote-franklin-barreto-place-chad-pinder-on-10-day-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/as-to-promote-franklin-barreto-place-chad-pinder-on-10-day-dl.html#comments Sat, 07 Apr 2018 18:04:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119457 The Athletics will place utilityman Chad Pinder on the 10-day DL due to a hyperextended left knee, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.  In a corresponding move, Oakland will also call up one of their top prospects, infielder Franklin Barreto.

    Pinder suffered the injury during Thursday’s game and, while it wasn’t serious enough for him to leave the field that night, the A’s decided to be cautious after Pinder’s pregame workout yesterday.  Oakland has two off-days next week but also a two-game interleague series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, so the extra bench depth was required for the extra substitutions often necessary in NL games.

    This will be Barreto’s third visit to the big leagues after a brief stint with the A’s last summer and another call-up in September once the rosters expanded.  The 22-year-old didn’t show much at the plate, posting just a .602 OPS over 76 plate appearances, though he did perform much better (.290/.339/.456) over 510 PA for Triple-A Nashville in his first extended taste of Triple-A pitching.  Barreto has been a staple of top-100 prospect lists for several years, including high grades from Baseball America (which ranked him as the 43rd best minor leaguer in the sport), Baseball Prospectus (63rd) and MLB.com (66th) prior to this season.

    Depending on how long Pinder is out, this could end up being another relatively brief call-up for Barreto, as the A’s obviously want to see him playing every day in the minors rather than only receiving sparing playing time as a big league bench player.  (Service time considerations are also surely a factor for the organization.)  Marcus Semien and Jed Lowrie are still locked in as Oakland’s regular middle infield combo, plus Matt Chapman has quickly become a fixture at third base, not that Barreto has ever played the hot corner.  Barreto does seem in line for some work, however, as he is currently the only backup infield option on Oakland’s 25-man roster.

    Athletics Acquire Josh Lucas From Cardinals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-acquire-josh-lucas-from-cardinals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-acquire-josh-lucas-from-cardinals.html#comments Sat, 31 Mar 2018 16:09:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118812 The Cardinals and Athletics have swapped a pair of right-handers. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that reliever Josh Lucas is headed to the A’s, with the Cardinals receiving minor-league starter Casey Meisner in exchange.

    The 27-year-old Lucas made his majors debut last season with St. Louis, tossing 7 1/3 relief innings across five appearances. He struck out seven hitters and walked four while allowing three earned runs. Across the past two seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system, the righty posted a K/9 north of 10 and a ground ball rate of nearly 50%. He has 49 career MiLB saves, but was designated for assignment by the Cards earlier this week, a move that came as something of a surprise considering that Lucas seems to carry some upside.

    The towering 6’7″ Meisner had a solid showing with the A’s High-A affiliate last season, posting a 3.98 ERA with 9.64 K/9. However, he struggled a bit upon a midseason promotion to Double-A; after that point, the 22-year-old averaged fewer than five innings per start while seeing his walk rate nearly double and his strikeout rate plummet to 5.64 K/9. Meisner was selected by the Mets in the third round of the 2013 draft, and subsequently traded to the A’s in exchange for reliever Tyler Clippard.

    Athletics Notes: Fowler, Powell, Ballpark https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-santana-rodon-fowlerpowell-as-park.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-santana-rodon-fowlerpowell-as-park.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 23:40:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118675
  • The Athletics optioned top prospect Dustin Fowler to Triple-A Nashville to begin the season, leaving Boog Powell to open the season as Oakland’s center fielder. A’s GM David Forst spoke highly of both outfielders in an email to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, noting that Fowler “worked incredibly hard to rehab his knee injury and amazingly put himself in a position to help us as soon as he’s needed.” Forst added that he expects Fowler to contribute at the big league level sooner rather than later. Manager Bob Melvin, Slusser notes, voiced a preference to bring Fowler to the Majors when he’s ready to stay rather than risking the possibility of rushing him and needing to send him back down. Fowler already has 95 days of MLB service time after spending the second half of last season on the DL, so the decision to option him isn’t tied to a desire to delay his free agency or any other such service manipulation.
  • In their latest ballpark-related initiative, the Athletics have announced (Twitter link) that they wish to obtain the O.Co Coliseum and its surrounding property in exchange for taking over $135MM in debt relating to the site. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross dove into the interesting bid, which represents the latest new plot twist in a long-running drama. Generally, while the A’s are not committed to the site, the club is also concerned that alternative bidders might acquire it with other intentions — perhaps leaving the organization with only one site option (Howard Terminal) for a long-sought new park. In a follow-up tweet, the Chronicle duo reported that the team and municipality have agreed upon “exclusive talks over ballpark development,” potentially involving either of the two remaining site options, though just what that entails is not immediately clear.
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    Athletics Outright Raul Alcantara https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-outright-raul-alcantara.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-outright-raul-alcantara.html#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 17:41:08 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118501 The Athletics have outrighted right-hander Raul Alcantara to Triple-A, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets. The out-of-options reliever will have the right to reject the assignment, having already been outrighted previously.

    Alcantara, 25, had been in competition to take the club’s last bullpen slot. Instead, he’ll end up in the upper minors — either with the Oakland organization or, if he chooses, another team.

    The results at the MLB level have been lacking for Alcantara, who has been knocked around in 46 1/3 total big league frames and surrendered six earned runs while recording just two strikeouts in his 8 2/3 innings this spring. But he has impressed in his time at Triple-A in the past two campaigns, working to a 1.82 ERA in 79 1/3 innings with 6.1 K/9 against 1.1 BB/9.

    Athletics Prospect A.J. Puk Recommended For Tommy John Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-prospect-a-j-puk-may-be-dealing-with-elbow-ligament-issue.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-prospect-a-j-puk-may-be-dealing-with-elbow-ligament-issue.html#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 01:34:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118437 8:34PM: As per a statement released by the A’s, Dr. James Andrews has recommended that Puk undergo Tommy John surgery to correct UCL damage in his throwing elbow.  Andrews provided the second opinion after Dr. Doug Freedberg made an initial diagnosis.  The procedure would put Puk out of action for an estimated 12-15 months, and it seems likely that Oakland would err on the longer side of that timeline for precautionary reasons.

    6:28PM: A’s manager Bob Melvin confirmed that Puk is getting a second opinion but didn’t provide details on the specifics of the injury, MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets.

    5:45PM: Athletics left-handed pitching prospect A.J. Puk was shut down last week due to biceps soreness, and now there are concerns that Puk may have a ligament problem in his throwing elbow, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.  Puk “was thought to be” looking for second opinions after initial meetings with doctors since his shutdown, which would hint at a larger issue.  Another possible ominous sign, as noted by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), is that the A’s themselves have yet to go on record about Puk’s injury, not even to confirm the initial diagnosis.

    The worst-case scenario for ligament issues, of course, would be Tommy John surgery, which would sideline Puk until midway through the 2019 season.  The A’s have already lost Jharel Cotton to TJ surgery this spring and Paul Blackburn has also been sidelined with a forearm strain, though Puk going on the shelf would represent a big setback for both the club and for one of the game’s best prospects.

    Puk entered the spring as the consensus pick as Oakland’s top minor leaguer, with ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranking the southpaw 13th on his list of the top 100 prospects in baseball.  (Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and Fangraphs all had Puk 30th, while MLB.com ranked him just behind at 32nd on their top-100 lists.)  Puk only added to his stature with a strong showing in Oakland’s spring camp, though a rough performance in his final appearance led to the shutdown, and Heyman observes that Puk’s velocity had dropped over his last two outings.

    Drafted sixth overall in 2016, Puk had already reached Double-A last season and it was expected he would make his MLB debut at some point this season.  After his good start in spring camp, there was even some chatter that the A’s would give him an aggressive promotion right to the big leagues, though obviously now the team will be as careful in possible in getting Puk back onto a mound at all, if possible.

    Offseason In Review: Oakland Athletics https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-oakland-athletics-9.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/offseason-in-review-oakland-athletics-9.html#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 04:27:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117794 This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    After posting their third straight sub-.500 campaign in 2017, which they opened with a paltry $81MM-plus payroll, the Athletics will start the new season with an even lower outlay. They’re set to check in at around $70MM, the cheapest total in the majors and the franchise’s lowest since 2013, and the MLBPA has taken notice. The union filed a grievance against the A’s and three other small-spending, revenue sharing recipients last month, though nothing has come of it to this point. Having been atop the A’s baseball department since 1998, executive vice president Billy Beane has grown accustomed to Oakland’s relative lack of financial resources. And in spite of the A’s inability to throw money around, the on-field product seems to be on the upswing, thanks in part to the winter efforts of Beane and general manager David Forst.

    Major League Signings

    Trades And Claims

    Option Decisions

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    Athletics Depth Chart; Athletics Payroll Information

    Needs Addressed

    At a combined $11.5MM, three free-agent signings will take up a decent chunk of Oakland’s season-opening payroll. The most noteworthy member of the group, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, didn’t ink a deal until March 12, making him one of the prominent victims of a famously slow-developing free-agent market. MLBTR predicted a two-year, $24MM contract for Lucroy at the outset of the offseason, but interest in the two-time All-Star was scarce after he he underwhelmed between Texas and Colorado in 2017.

    The 31-year-old Lucroy is coming off the worst offensive season of his accomplished career, having hit .265/.345/.371 (82 wRC+) in 481 plate appearances, even though he racked up nearly as many unintentional walks (46) as strikeouts (51). He experienced a power outage that overshadowed his impressive strikeout-avoiding abilities, largely because while others around the game have worked to hit more fly balls, Lucroy went in the opposite direction. Lucroy hit grounders at a 53.5 percent rate (the 10th-highest mark in the sport), a massive increase over the 41.1 percent figure he put up from 2010-16. Moreover, the once-pristine pitch-framing grades he used to earn on the defensive side continued to drop off to an alarming extent, as this table from FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan indicates.

    When you add those factors up, it’s no wonder Lucroy went four-plus months without a job. At the same time, though, he’s not far removed from a 2016 campaign in which he accounted for an excellent 4.6 fWAR, and Steamer is projecting 2.9 fWAR in 2018. ZiPS offers a far less enthusiastic forecast (1.9), meanwhile, but that would still be a palatable outcome for an A’s team that paid relatively little for Lucroy and isn’t tied to him for the long haul. And with the Bruce MaxwellJosh Phegley tandem not inspiring much confidence, Oakland looked like a logical fit for Lucroy in the months before it signed him –  especially given that Maxwell is in legal trouble as a result of an early offseason arrest for a gun charge.

    Shortly after they reeled in Lucroy, the A’s reunited with someone who figures to pitch to him this year, righty Trevor Cahill, whose signing came in response to starter Jharel Cotton’s season-ending injury. The 30-year-old Cahill had some of the top years of his career as a full-time starter in Oakland from 2009-11, but he has since shifted between teams’ rotations and bullpens to mixed results.

    Most recently, Cahill struggled across 21 appearances (14 starts) with the Padres and Royals last year, when he pitched to a 4.93 ERA/5.28 FIP with an untenable walk rate (4.82 BB/9). Injuries were a major problem in 2017 for Cahill, who went on the disabled list three times because of shoulder and back issues. It’s hard to expect much from Cahill in 2018 (judging by his salary, the A’s agree). Because Cahill’s not stretched out enough to begin the year as a major league starter, he’ll open as depth – something the A’s need in the wake of the Cotton news, not to mention top prospect A.J. Puk’s biceps soreness and Paul Blackburn’s forearm strain.

    Months before the Lucroy and Cahill signings, the A’s struck early in free agency when they committed a two-year, $10MM guarantee to workhorse reliever Yusmeiro Petit, who stood out with the division-rival Angels last season. Petit has been quietly superb at times since breaking out with the Giants in 2013, and that was especially true in 2017. The 33-year-old led all relievers in innings (87 1/3, excluding the four he picked up as a starter) and registered 1.9 fWAR out of the bullpen (tied with ex-Athletic Ryan Madson for 13th best in the league). Along the way, he managed a 2.76 ERA/2.85 FIP and appealing strikeout and walk rates (9.95 K/9, 1.77 BB/9).

    Going forward, it would be overly optimistic to expect the soft-tossing Petit to be nearly that good again. He was subpar as recently as 2016, after all, and isn’t the darling of projection systems heading into the new year. As is the case with the Lucroy and Cahill additions, though, the price tag is low enough that Petit won’t exactly have to turn in an elite-caliber season to justify the signing. The hope is that he’ll be at least perform with reasonable effectiveness while continuing to eat innings, thus aiding an unspectacular-looking starting staff.

    Joining Cahill and Petit in the A’s new-look bullpen will be two trade acquisitions, righty Emilio Pagan and lefty Ryan Buchter. The A’s got Pagan from the division-rival Mariners as part of a deal involving first baseman/former third baseman Ryon Healy, who shouldn’t be all that tough for Oakland to replace. Healy is young (26), cheap and had a memorable debut in 2016, but a lack of walks (4.1 percent) and a high batting average on balls in play (.352) made the .305/.337/.524 line he enjoyed in 283 PAs as a rookie hard to fully buy into. It wasn’t surprising that Healy came back to earth over 605 PAs last year (he batted a league-average .271/.302/.451), when his walk problem got even worse (3.8 percent) and his BABIP was a more normal-looking .319.

    With third baseman Matt Chapman and first baseman Matt Olson having exploded on the scene in 2017, not to mention the presence of big-hitting DH Khris Davis, there was no clear path to at-bats in Oakland anymore for Healy. Consequently, Beane and Forst turned him into Pagan (also 26), who experienced his first MLB action last season and opened eyes in the process. After compiling consistently good numbers in the minors from 2013-17, Pagan came up and gave the Mariners quality production (3.22 ERA/3.28 FIP, 10.01 K/9, 1.43 BB/9 in 50 1/3 innings). Like Petit, Pagan seems to be capable of working more than your typical reliever, having gotten three or more outs in 13 of 34 appearances in 2017.

    Buchter is also a reliable source of frames, as the 31-year-old collected 63 or more in each of his first two seasons. The former Padre and Royal has been steady overall, evidenced by a 2.85 ERA/3.82 FIP and 10.02 K/9 against 4.04 BB/9. Buchter has also been roughly as effective versus same-sided hitters (.249 wOBA against) and righties (.271), meaning he’s not just a lefty specialist. So, at the cost of the now-gone Brandon Moss (whom the A’s are paying $5MM through next season to not play for them), the up-and-down Jesse Hahn and decent pitching prospect Heath Fillmyer, the A’s seemingly did well to land Buchter’s four years of affordable control.

    On the negative side, it’s worth noting that Buchter managed a horrid grounder percentage in 2017 (32.9), as did Petit (32.9) and Pagan (22.3). It’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll be able to continue limiting home runs this year, then, after they each allowed HRs at rates of 11 percent or less last season. If there’s an obvious reason for hope on that front, it’s that all three have helped cancel out their lack of grounders by inducing lots of infield pop-ups. Buchter has a 16.5 percent infield fly rate for his career, while Petit was at 18.6 last season and Pagan 12.2.

    Buchter, Petit and Pagan will hope to keep tamping down dingers in 2018, but it’s the opposite for right fielder Stephen Piscotty, whom the A’s acquired from the Cardinals for infield prospects Max Schrock and Yairo Munoz in December. That came after the A’s flirted with acquiring the likes of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Steven Souza Jr. and Adam Duvall. In the end, they emerged with Piscotty, who did cost them a couple interesting young players. Schrock is the Cardinals’ 10th-ranked prospect at MLB.com, and Munoz has already earned a roster spot in St. Louis.

    It’s not hard to see why the A’s are bullish on Piscotty, who held his own from 2015-16 – a 905-PA span in which he slashed .282/.348/.467 (121 wRC+). Piscotty stumbled to .235/.342/.367 line (92 wRC+) in 401 PAs last season, but the 27-year-old was going through a hellish off-field situation in St. Louis, as his mother has been battling ALS back in Northern California. Now Piscotty – a Pleasanton, Calif., native – will be closer to her and have an opportunity to bounce back in a familiar setting. It should help his cause that the A’s park, the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, was roughly middle of the pack in terms of HR friendless for right-handed hitters a year ago, whereas St. Louis’ Busch Stadium ranked among the most difficult venues for RH batters.

    If Piscotty does revisit his 2015-16 form in his return home, he’ll be an absolute bargain on the extension the Cardinals gave him a year ago (he’s guaranteed roughly $30MM through 2023). At the very least, he should be a marked upgrade defensively over the right fielders Oakland trotted out last year. The A’s group was among the worst at the position then; meantime, Piscotty collected eight Defensive Runs Saved and paired that with a 1.7 Ultimate Zone Rating. All said, he has accounted for 12 DRS and a 4.1 UZR in 2,588 innings in right field since debuting in 2015.

    Read more

    Dipoto: Pagan Move Was "Probably The Most Painful Trade We've Made" https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-jepsen-mariners-pagan-bautista.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-jepsen-mariners-pagan-bautista.html#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:34:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117823
  • The Mariners thought so highly of Emilio Pagan as both a player and a person that GM Jerry Dipoto described the swap that sent Pagan and minor leaguer Alexander Campos to the Athletics for Ryon Healy as “probably the most painful trade we’ve made,” Dipoto tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  “In a group that’s not unused to changing bodies, a lot of guys were crushed we traded Emilio.  He’s an unbelievable guy, a tremendous human being, he does all the right things,” Dipoto said.  Pagan made his MLB debut in 2017 and immediately became a key cog in Seattle’s bullpen, posting a 3.22 ERA over 50 1/3 innings and recording 56 strikeouts against just eight walks.  Pagan has continued to hone his game this spring, telling Slusser that he has increased usage of his changeup and also been throwing more inside fastballs to hitters.
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    Paul Blackburn Has Right Forearm Strain https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/paul-blackburn-has-right-forearm-strain.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/paul-blackburn-has-right-forearm-strain.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:00:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117749 6:00pm: Blackburn will be shut down for ten days, says manager Bob Melvin (h/t Jane Lee of MLB.com).

    4:18pm: The Athletics rotation has taken another blow, this time involving righty Paul Blackburn. He is dealing with a right forearm strain, as Jane Lee writes in a piece for MLB.com. It now seems all but certain that Blackburn will not be ready to join the staff to open the year. With the rotation already missing Jharel Cotton and recent signee Trevor Cahill not quite ready to go, that leaves Oakland with much less depth to begin the season than had been anticipated. Lee suggests that “by default”, the A’s early-season rotation is now set to consist of Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Andrew Triggs and Daniel Gossett.

    The 24-year-old Blackburn made ten starts last season in his first taste of major-league action. While the righty pitched to a nice 3.22 ERA and a 56.3% ground ball rate, his 4.76 xFIP and shockingly low 3.38 K/9 left some question marks surrounding his capability to repeat that level of run-prevention.

    Blackburn was a supplemental first round pick of the Cubs back during the 2012 draft. He came to the Athletics organization by way of a 2016 trade that sent Danny Valencia to the Mariners. Blackburn made his major-league debut on July 1st, 2017, when the righty allowed zero earned runs in six innings against the Braves.

    Athletics Shut Down Top Prospect A.J. Puk With Biceps Soreness https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-shut-down-top-prospect-a-j-puk-with-biceps-soreness.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-shut-down-top-prospect-a-j-puk-with-biceps-soreness.html#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:59:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117624 The Athletics have shut down top pitching prospect A.J. Puk with biceps soreness, according to a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. At this point, the severity of the injury is not fully known, though indications are that the exciting young lefty will be able to return to the hill before too long.

    Needless to say, any issues in that region of such a valuable arm are going to be dealt with quite cautiously. Per the report, Puk has already undergone an MRI that did not give cause for concern that there is “any major structural damage.” Still, biceps soreness is a symptom associated with potentially serious elbow issues and the club will want to be certain that the current problem is not exacerbated.

    Puk was taken with the sixth overall selection in the 2016 draft and turned in a solid, 125-inning effort in 2017. Splitting his time between High-A and Double-A in his first full season as a professional, the 22-year-old ran up a 4.03 ERA with 13.2 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.

    Oakland had already determined that the high-powered southpaw would not crack the roster out of camp. But A’s fans were already no doubt looking forward to his arrival sooner than later after watching him spin over nine scoreless Cactus League innings this spring before he was finally touched in his last frame. There’s no particular reason to believe that Puk’s ultimate ascension will be slowed significantly, though perhaps now the Oakland organization will handle him with added care early in the 2018 season.

    Athletics Agree To Terms With Brett Anderson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-agree-to-terms-with-brett-anderson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-agree-to-terms-with-brett-anderson.html#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2018 18:05:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117493 The Athletics have agreed to a contract with veteran lefty Brett Anderson, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. It’s a minors deal, but other terms are not yet known.

    If the deal becomes official, Anderson will return to the place where he first broke into the majors back in 2009. He turned in strong efforts for Oakland for parts of five seasons, working to a cumulative 3.81 ERA over 450 2/3 innings. Of course, that only worked out to about ninety frames per season, as Anderson dealt with a variety of injuries.

    Anderson has had his successes since leaving the A’s, as well. In particular, he turned in a strong effort in 2015 for the Dodgers, making over thirty starts for the first time since his rookie year and finishing with a 3.69 ERA over 180 1/3 frames. That earned Anderson a qualifying offer, which he accepted for the ensuing season.

    Unfortunately, Anderson has been neither healthy nor effective since that point. The 2016 season was mostly lost to back surgery. And Anderson limped to a 6.34 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 55 1/3 innings last year after landing with the Cubs on a make-good contract.

    There are still some signs of hope, however. Anderson is still just 30 years of age. Last year, he still managed fairly typical fastball velocity, posted an 8.8% swinging-strike rate that was the second highest of his career, and generated a typically solid 49.2% groundball rate. Anderson also may have suffered from some poor fortune with a .364 BABIP and 60.9% strand rate, though Statcast felt the results largely matched expectations based upon the quality of contact he surrendered.

    Athletics To Sign Trevor Cahill https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-to-sign-trevor-cahill.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-to-sign-trevor-cahill.html#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2018 21:08:02 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117219 MONDAY: Cahill will earn $1.5MM, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

    SATURDAY: The Athletics have agreed to a one-year, major league contract, pending a physical, with right-hander Trevor Cahill, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier Saturday that Oakland could target Cahill, a client of John Boggs & Associates.

    With righty Jharel Cotton set to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season, the Athletics found themselves seeking starting depth on Saturday. Cahill will provide that, and he’ll attempt to grab a spot in an Oakland rotation that lacks certainty beyond Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea. High-end prospect A.J. Puk seems unlikely to begin the year in the majors, leaving the A’s with Cahill, Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Mengden and Daniel Gossett vying for the final three spots in their rotation (depth chart).

    This deal represents a homecoming for Cahill, a California native whom the Athletics chose in the second round of the 2006 draft and who began his career as an eminently effective starter for the club.

    Cahill spent 2009-11 in Oakland, where he ate 583 innings and pitched to a solid 3.91 ERA, despite less-than-stellar strikeout and walk numbers (5.48 K/9, 3.35 BB/9). The A’s then shipped him to Arizona in a five-player, December 2011 trade that brought them righty Jarrod Parker, among others. Injuries have since ended Parker’s career, while Cahill has seen his effectiveness wane dating back to the end of his first Oakland stint.

    The 30-year-old Cahill started 30-plus games and racked up between 178 2/3 and 207 2/3 innings in each of his first four seasons, but he hasn’t approached those figures since. He’s only a couple years removed from essentially working as a full-time reliever with both the Braves and Cubs, but he primarily functioned as a starter in 2017.

    Across 21 appearances (14 starts) and 84 frames between San Diego and Kansas City, Cahill posted a 4.93 ERA/5.28 FIP and logged 9.32 K/9 against 4.82 BB/9. He also registered an impressive 55.6 percent groundball rate (right in line with his career mark of 55.1). Unfortunately, though, shoulder issues helped derail his season after the Royals acquired him in July. While Cahill managed outstanding numbers over 61 innings with the Padres (3.69 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9), he offset those by surrendering 21 earned runs on 33 hits and 21 walks, with 15 strikeouts, during his 23-frame Royals tenure.

    Cahill was on the disabled list three times with shoulder and back problems during his two-team run in 2017, surely helping lead to his inability to find a job from November until now. The A’s, on the heels of the promising Cotton’s injury, are left to hope Cahill will more closely resemble the version who held his own with the Padres than the one who scuffled with the Royals.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Raul Alcantara Could Lose 40-Man Spot https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-rays-cobb-archer-twins-tigers-as.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-rays-cobb-archer-twins-tigers-as.html#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:21:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117396
  • Athletics right-hander Raul Alcantara could lose his 40-man roster spot when their deal with righty Trevor Cahill becomes official, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Alcantara, 25, is out of options and hasn’t produced in Oakland, where he combined for 46 1/3 innings of 7.19 ERA/7.45 FIP ball from 2016-17.
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    Chris Bassitt Wanted More Clarity About Role With A's https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-iwakuma-bassitt-altuve.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-iwakuma-bassitt-altuve.html#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2018 03:44:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117365
  • The Athletics optioned right-hander Chris Bassitt to Triple-A today in the wake of a rough Spring Training, though Bassitt told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he believes a lack of communication about his role contributed to his 7.11 ERA over 6 1/3 IP.  According to Bassitt, “I was told coming into camp I was going to compete for a starting spot and never got a single chance…It’s hard to prepare when you don’t know what you’re preparing for. Anyone just wants to know what they’re expecting out of you and so far no one can really answer that yet.”  Bassitt said he was willing to pitch in whatever role the A’s wanted, except he just wanted more notice and more clarity about that role.  “The way my mechanics are, I pretty much have to go out of the stretch when I come out of the bullpen, and I wasn’t prepared to be a reliever, I really wasn’t. It’s frustrating all around that wasn’t relayed to me all offseason,” he said.  Oakland manager Bob Melvin said he felt the team “tried to intimate that to” Bassitt that he would be deployed in an undefined role as a swingman, long reliever, or starter depending on the situation.  Bassitt last pitched in the majors in April 2016, as he was sidelined for much of that season due to Tommy John surgery, and he tossed 50 2/3 innings in the minors in 2017.
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    Athletics Notes: Anderson, Puk, Phegley https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-notes-anderson-puk-phegley.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-notes-anderson-puk-phegley.html#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 19:19:30 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117314 The latest on Oakland…

    • The Athletics agreed to reunite with right-hander Trevor Cahill on Saturday, and they may not be done adding old friends to their pitching mix. The team is considering signing left-hander Brett Anderson, who’d likely receive a minor league contract, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Anderson debuted in the majors with the A’s in 2009 and was mostly effective in Oakland through 2013, but injuries prevented him from realizing his potential. Those injury woes have seldom let up for Anderson, now 30 years old, in his post-Oakland stops. Most recently, he struggled mightily last season across 55 1/3 innings (13 appearances, all starts) between the Cubs and Blue Jays. Anderson pitched to a 6.34 ERA, albeit with a fairly encouraging 4.10 FIP, and logged 6.18 K/9, 3.42 BB/9 and a 49.2 percent groundball rate.
    • Oakland pared down its rotation competition Sunday, sending southpaw A.J. Puk to minor league camp. That seems to leave Cahill, Paul Blackburn, Andrew Triggs, Daniel Gossett and Daniel Mengden as the contenders for the last three spots in their rotation. While the 22-year-old Puk ranks as one of the game’s top prospects, expectations were that the A’s would send him down, as he hasn’t even reached the Triple-A level yet.
    • Catcher Josh Phegley has a pair of broken fingers on his right hand and will cease baseball activities for at least two weeks, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. That should take Phegley out of the running for a roster spot in Oakland, though it looked unlikely he’d earn one anyway after the club recently signed Jonathan Lucroy. He should team with Bruce Maxwell to comprise the A’s top two backstops, leaving Phegley – with his one option remaining – to head to Triple-A.
    AL West Notes: Ohtani, Vogelbach, Whalen, A’s, Cotton, Puk https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-ohtani-vogelbach-whalen-as-cotton-puk.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-ohtani-vogelbach-whalen-as-cotton-puk.html#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:45:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117206 The struggles of Shohei Ohtani this spring have been well-documented already, and while he’s ranked as one of the top prospects in baseball in most publications, scouts have been vocal about some weaknesses in his game. Ohtani would seem to be a significant part of the Angels’ plans for 2018, but GM Billy Eppler recently said that the club has made no assurances to Ohtani that he’ll be on the opening day roster (report: Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times). “In our universe, we are evaluating this in a vacuum,” said Eppler. “Is this 23-year-old prospect ready to make an impact on both sides of the ball?” The decision to start Ohtani in the minors (if a serious consideration) would certainly make sense from a development perspective, and would come with the enormous benefit of giving the Angels an extra year of control over the two-way Japanese phenom, if he were to spend at least 15 days at Triple-A. Of course, such a decision would surely come with a storm of controversy as well.

    Elsewhere in the AL West…

    • Greg Johns of MLB.com writes that the injury to Ryon Healy might have presented an opportunity for Mariners first baseman Dan Vogelbach, who’s opened some eyes this spring by hitting .405 with nine extra-base hits and nine walks in 37 at-bats during Cactus League play. “Vogey deserves to be on this club,” said GM Jerry DiPoto. “He has raked from day one. He has controlled the strike zone really better than anybody in the Cactus League. What he’s doing with the bat is reminiscent of what he’s kind of always done in the Minor Leagues, but we’ve never had the opportunity to see in the big leagues.” He also offered high praise for right-hander Rob Whalen, who was acquired from the Braves a year ago and has proved dominant this spring after coming into camp 25 pounds lighter.
    • Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will officially undergo Tommy John surgery according to a report earlier today“I’m trying to take it as best I can, and just get ready for the long process, the long road ahead,” Cotton said in a video tweeted by Jane Lee of MLB.com“I just gotta work hard with the rehab and come back stronger, so that’s what I’m gonna do.” Cotton’s absence in the rotation will leave the A’s a bit thin on starters, which the club has reportedly acknowledged; manager Bob Melvin has suggested that they might look at free agent pitching options, if prices have come down (h/t Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). One way they don’t plan on filling the rotation void is with top prospect A.J. Puk, according to club president Billy Beane. Via another tweet from Lee, Beane had the following comments when asked if Puk was a legitimate option for the opening day rotation: “If he is, it’s only because we don’t have a lot of options. Do I think it’s ideal to call upon a kid who has half a year at Double-A? No. That would not be the preferred route.”
    Jharel Cotton To Undergo Tommy John Surgery https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/jharel-cotton-diagnosed-with-sprained-ucl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/jharel-cotton-diagnosed-with-sprained-ucl.html#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 17:15:14 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117081 March 17: Cotton is set to undergo Tommy John surgery, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports via Twitter.

    March 16: Slusser tweets that Cotton is getting his second opinion today. The right-hander adds that he currently has full strength in his elbow and isn’t experiencing much in the way of pain.

    March 15: The Athletics received some unwelcome news today. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle was among those to report (Twitter links), righty Jharel Cotton has been diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle.

    Clearly, the UCL is the major concern here. The diagnosis indicates that there is some amount of tearing to that key elbow ligament. It’s not yet known what treatment Cotton will undergo, though he’s slated to receive a second opinion before deciding.

    Any kind of surgical outcome would surely mean an extensive absence. Even a “primary repair” procedure, rather than full-blown Tommy John surgery, would likely put Cotton’s 2018 season in doubt. Of course, an increasing number of pitchers are able to pursue rest-and-rehab programs, often supplemented by stem cell and/or platelet-rich plasma treatment, as an alternative to going under the knife.

    Cotton had been expected to play an important role in the Oakland staff after making 24 MLB starts last year (though he struggled to a 5.58 ERA). Now, it seems likely he’ll be sidelined for quite some time, even if he pursues a non-surgical approach to dealing with the injury.

    Athletics Release Jairo Labourt https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/as-designate-jairo-labourt-for-assignment.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/as-designate-jairo-labourt-for-assignment.html#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2018 17:22:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116834 March 14: The A’s announced today that they’ve released Labourt. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke to someone who watched a bullpen session Labourt threw with the A’s and said the lefty was “all over the place” in an unimpressive showing.

    March 12: The Athletics announced on Monday that they’ve designated left-hander Jairo Labourt for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Jonathan Lucroy, whose one-year deal with Oakland has now been formally announced. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for Labourt, who gone from the Tigers to the Reds to the A’s via the waiver wire and could now very well find himself on the move once again.

    The 24-year-old Labourt made his big league debut with Detroit last season, appearing in six games and allowing three runs with four strikeouts against seven walks in six innings. Initially acquired from the Blue Jays in the trade that sent David Price to Toronto, Labourt posted excellent numbers in Class-A Advanced and in Double-A last season before stumbling when he reached Triple-A. He tossed 22 innings with the Tigers’ Toledo affiliate, and while his 2.45 ERA was strong he also issued 23 walks in those 22 frames.

    Control has long been an issue for Labourt, who has averaged 5.1 walks per nine innings pitched over the course of seven minor league seasons. But, he’s a fairly hard-throwing southpaw with a fastball sitting around 93 mph who averaged a career-best 10.7 K/9 in the minors this past season. He worked exclusively out of the bullpen in 2017, but he has 87 professional starts under his belt and could be viewed by some clubs as a depth piece for either the ’pen or rotation. He still has a minor league option remaining, too, so any club that picks him up would be able to send him to Triple-A without first exposing him to the waiver wire.

    Athletics Have "Some Concern" As Cotton Heads For Elbow MRI https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-blackburn-cotton-cruz-romine-felix.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-west-notes-blackburn-cotton-cruz-romine-felix.html#comments Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:08:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116937
  • The Athletics are holding their breath as right-hander Jharel Cotton undergoes an MRI on his right elbow after experiencing soreness in his most recent spring outing, writes MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Manager Bob Melvin acknowledged that “there’s some concern” over the test results rather than painting the MRI as any sort of precautionary measure. The skipper also noted that Cotton’s velocity has declined in his prior outing. At minimum, Cotton will not make his next start. He’d been largely penciled in for a rotation spot, however, so a significant injury would have a dramatic impact on Oakland’s rotation mix.
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    Crasnick On Athletics https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/west-notes-bush-athletics-greinke.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/west-notes-bush-athletics-greinke.html#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2018 04:58:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116866
  • The Athletics’ offseason moves and budding farm system have made them into a more interesting club than many are giving them credit for, opines ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The pairing of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson at the team’s infield corners gives them one of the game’s great young defensive players — one AL evaluator from another club likened Chapman’s glove to that of Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado — and an impressive young slugger whose fast rise in the big leagues mirrored that of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins. (Olson hit .259/.352/.651 with 24 homers in 216 plate appearances.) Paired with one of the game’s most under-the-radar sluggers (Khris Davis) and interesting upper-level prospects like left-hander A.J. Puk, the A’s could surprise some in 2018, even if they’re not likely to vault up into to division contention just yet. Crasnick spoke to GM David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and scouts from other clubs about the improving young A’s club.
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    Athletics Sign Jonathan Lucroy https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-to-sign-jonathan-lucroy.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-to-sign-jonathan-lucroy.html#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2018 15:15:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116598 MONDAY: The A’s have announced the signing.

    SATURDAY: Lucroy’s one-year deal with the A’s will guarantee him $6.5MM, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slusser also adds that the deal does not come with any incentives.

    FRIDAY: The Athletics have agreed to sign catcher Jonathan Lucroy, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee (via Twitter). It’s a one-year deal for the Excel client, according to the report.

    Entering the winter, MLBTR predicted that Lucroy would command a two-year, $24MM commitment. We cited the A’s as a possible suitor, but at the time it seemed likelier that the 31-year-old would choose a team more clearly positioned to contend, given his own comments on the subject.

    As was the case for others, of course, the free-agent market did not really develop as expected for the veteran backstop. The Rockies — who employed Lucroy for the second half of the 2017 season — had interest but pivoted to Chris Iannetta, who ended up being one of three catchers (joining Welington Castillo and Alex Avila) to secure two-year commitments.

    Lucroy’s free-agent experience was long expected to be much more rewarding. When the 2016 season drew to a close, after all, he stood as one of the best all-around receivers in the game, having just wrapped up a five-year run of .291/.353/.465 hitting during which he was also reputed to be among the game’s best defensive catchers.

    The 2017 season, though, did not go well at all. Lucroy got off to a disastrous start at the plate with the Rangers before a mid-season trade to the Rockies. While he rebounded with a robust .429 on-base percentage (with 27 walks against just 19 strikeouts) down the stretch, Lucroy’s power never returned and he finished with a .265/.345/.371 slash line and six home runs over 481 plate appearances on the year.

    Optimists will point to the still-impeccable zone control and long history of productivity. Pessimists can handily cite the fact that Lucroy delivered little hard contact, lots of grounders, and a career-low full-season dinger tally in a 2017 season marked by a leaguewide offensive surge.

    Defensive questions also arose. While the Rockies credited Lucroy’s work at managing the pitching staff, suggesting he retains his good reputation in that hard-to-quantify realm, there was surprising slippage in the framing department. Once lauded as the master of winning strikes for his pitchers, Lucroy graded miserably in that key metric in 2017.

    Of course, we at MLBTR were still somewhat bullish on Lucroy’s market situation despite those areas of concern. Indeed, I argued for more than our collective prediction, writing in early October that he could command a three-year commitment with an annual salary of $10MM or more. In a market full of surprises, Lucroy’s shortfall is among the most eye-opening. While he surely could have commanded a larger payday had he signed earlier in the winter, with timing playing a role in the ultimate contract, it remains notable that such an accomplished player was forced to settle for such a commitment.

    [RELATED: Updated Athletics Depth Chart]

    For Oakland, it’s an eminently sensible risk to take. The club had said it expected to utilize Bruce Maxwell as the primary option, but he had a tough season at the plate in 2017 as well as a troubling offseason run-in with the law. While he undoubtedly remains part of the future plans, it could be that he’ll open the year in the minors with Josh Phegley supplementing Lucroy at the MLB level.

    Even with Lucroy aboard, it’s tough to pick the A’s as a favorite in the AL West that’s led by an outstanding Astros club and is competitive from top top bottom. But if he can coax breakout performances from a youthful pitching staff, if not also rebound with the bat, then perhaps there could yet be a surprise in store.

    Lee and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick previously reported a deal was close.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Athletics Expect To Land Veteran Catcher https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-expect-to-land-veteran-catcher.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-expect-to-land-veteran-catcher.html#comments Fri, 09 Mar 2018 21:14:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116594 3:28pm: The Athletics are nearing agreement with Lucroy, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).

    3:14pm: The Athletics are pursuing a veteran catcher and expect to acquire one, per MLB.com’s Jane Lee (via Twitter). Specifically, the club anticipates either signing Jonathan Lucroy or acquiring Matt Wieters from the Nationals.

    Lucroy remains one of the top remaining un-signed free agents. He entered the winter as the top-rated catcher available.

    Needless to say, the latter possibility hints at the potential for lots of creative trade scenarios — especially given the long trade history between these organizations’ current front office leadership. The Nats owe Wieters a hefty $10.5MM salary after his poor 2017 season. At the same time, the team would surely only move him (and as much of the salary as it can) if it has an upgrade lined up.

    Of course, it could be that the Nats would see Lucroy himself as a preferable option to Wieters, adding yet another potential dimension to the situation. Lucroy entered the winter emphasizing his desire to play for a competitor, after all. Washington has also long been tied to quality young Marlins receive J.T. Realmuto, though it’s not clear whether there has been any recent movement on that front.

    At this point, though, the trade possibilities are all speculation.

    Athletics Release Brandon Moss https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-release-brandon-moss.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/athletics-release-brandon-moss.html#comments Tue, 06 Mar 2018 18:38:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116372 The return of Brandon Moss to the Athletics has proven short-lived, as was anticipated from the time he was picked up in a trade with the Royals. Oakland announced today that Moss was released after being designated for assignment over the weekend.

    Moss, 34, will cost the A’s around $5MM in total — costs that were absorbed in order to enable the team’s acquisition of southpaw Ryan Buchter. That could still be offset by any MLB earnings Moss takes home this year, though a new team will only need to pay him at the league minimum salary.

    It’s not exactly a hospitable market setting for the veteran slugger to enter. Moss, whose offensive productivity has fallen off in recent years, will almost certainly be looking at a minor-league deal. Adam Lind just took a minors pact, after all, despite quality output at the plate in 2017.

    For Moss, things just haven’t been the same since he was dealt away by the A’s following a productive three-season run from 2012 through 2014. He did hit well enough in 2016 to earn a $12MM deal from Kansas City, but stumbled to a .207/.279/.428 slash line in 401 plate appearances last year. While Moss still hit the ball out of the yard 22 times, that doesn’t really stand out in a league environment that has seen a significant rise in the frequency of the long ball.

    A’s Designate Brandon Moss For Assignment, Claim Jairo Labourt https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/as-designate-brandon-moss-for-assignment-claim-jairo-labourt.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/as-designate-brandon-moss-for-assignment-claim-jairo-labourt.html#comments Sun, 04 Mar 2018 19:26:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116222 The Athletics have claimed left-hander Jairo Labourt off waivers from the Reds, the club announced.  Veteran first baseman/DH Brandon Moss has been designated for assignment in a corresponding move to create room for Labourt on Oakland’s 40-man roster.

    Moss was acquired by the A’s as part of a four-player trade with the Royals that essentially shook out as Oakland agreeing to take on a heavy chunk of Moss’ salary as the price for obtaining a cost-controlled young reliever in Ryan BuchterMatt Olson and Khris Davis were already locked in at first base and DH for the A’s, leaving Moss without any clear path to regular playing time, and even a bench role seemed unlikely given the Athletics’ overall youth movement.

    [Updated A’s depth chart at Roster Resource]

    The Royals kicked in $3.25MM as part of the trade, leaving the A’s on the hook for the remaining $4MM of Moss’ 2018 salary, plus $1MM to buy out their end of Moss’ $10MM mutual option for 2019.  A team that claims Moss within the 10-day DFA period would take on this salary commitment, so it seems much likelier than any clubs interested in the 34-year-old will wait until Moss is officially released.  (A new team would owe Moss just a minimum salary in 2018, with Oakland responsible for the prorated remainder of that $5MM.)

    It remains to be seen if any suitors will come calling for Moss given the number of other first base/DH types available in free agency, plus Moss’ own struggles in 2017.  Moss hit 22 homers last year for Kansas City, but slashed just .207/.279/.428 over 401 plate appearances.  His batting averages and on-base percentages have been in steady decline over the last five seasons and, given his lack of defensive value, Moss was a sub-replacement level player in 2017 as per both fWAR (-0.5) and bWAR (-1.0).

    If Moss doesn’t land another MLB contract, the veteran plans to retire, he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle as part of an interview on the A’s Plus Podcast (to be released later today).  “I totally understand the situation here.  They [the A’s] had to get me to get a guy they really needed.  That’s baseball, that’s the way it works,” Moss said.  “But if I get cut, I can play by my own rules, I don’t have to do anything, and I won’t.  If another team doesn’t pick me up, I’ve had a good career, more of a career than I ever thought I’d have.”

    Labourt will now be joining his third organization in less than two weeks, as the southpaw was designated by the Tigers in the wake of their signing of Francisco Liriano, and the Reds then claimed Labourt just two days ago.  Buchter and Danny Coulombe are the only other left-handers on Oakland’s 40-man roster, so Labourt has at least a shot at winning a job out of Spring Training.  Despite some significant control issues throughout his seven-year pro career, Labourt posted some strong results after becoming a full-time reliever in 2017, and his performance even led to Labourt making his Major League debut in a six-game cup of coffee with Detroit last season.  Labourt has a 3.61 ERA, 8.8 K/9, and 1.74 K/BB rate over 481 minor league innings.

    Latest On Brandon Moss https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-walker-royals-moss-as-rangers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-walker-royals-moss-as-rangers.html#comments Sun, 04 Mar 2018 02:08:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116173
  • When Moore-led Kansas City traded Brandon Moss to Oakland in January, the slugger insisted he’d find a way to make the Athletics’ roster, even though there was no clear fit for him then. At that point, the A’s were reportedly interested in flipping Moss (whom they owe $5MM through next season), but nothing has come together yet. Still, the 34-year-old continues to be a long shot to earn a roster spot with the A’s, per Jane Lee of MLB.com. Moss’ positions – first base and designated hitter – remain spoken for in Oakland, which also has a “spillover on the bench,” Lee writes. Moss is hopeful he’ll stay an Athletic (he thrived with them earlier in his career), but either way, he has been working to rebound from a rough 2017 in which he hit just .207/.279/.428 in 401 plate appearances. The left-handed Moss had the majors’ highest pull percentage (53.0) among those with at least 400 PAs, so he’d like to become more of an all-fields hitter. “My batting average keeps going down further and further. The shift just gets more effective against me the slower I get, so I’m going to have to make some adjustments if I want to keep playing,” he observed. “I knew that coming into this year. Last year was just such a bad year. I hit the ball hard last year, but I can’t tell you how many times I would hit the ball into right field on a one-hop line drive and get thrown out at first by a guy halfway in the outfield because I’m not fast enough to beat it out anymore.”
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    MLBPA Files Grievance Against Four Teams Over Revenue Sharing Funds https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/mlbpa-files-grievance-against-four-teams-over-revenue-sharing-funds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/mlbpa-files-grievance-against-four-teams-over-revenue-sharing-funds.html#comments Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:52:34 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115882 The Major League Baseball Player’s Association has initiated a grievance proceeding against the Athletics, Marlins, Pirates, and Rays regarding those teams’ spending of revenue sharing dollars, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

    This general issue has been percolating for some time, even as additional concerns have arisen as to the pace of free-agent signings over the 2017-18 offseason. The MLBPA reportedly engaged with the league office over the Miami and Pittsburgh organizations’ spending earlier this year.

    At the time, MLB and the teams at issue rejected the idea that there was any issue worth exploring further. Clearly, the union disagrees and also feels that two other organizations’ practices merit examination. Per Topkin, the complaint relates to spending both last year and over the present offseason.

    Revenue-sharing dollars — which will be phased out for the A’s under the current Basic Agreement — are required to be spent for improving the MLB performance of recipient clubs. That doesn’t necessarily mean it all must go to player salaries, but though teams are required to report on how they use the money. And as JJ Cooper of Baseball America notes on Twitter, successive collective bargaining agreements have tightened the permissible uses.

    Enforcing the provisions relating to these funds falls in the domain of commissioner Rob Manfred. He can issue penalties, require the submission of a two-year plan, and even order changes with that plan (“after consultation with the Players Association”).

    As Topkin notes, it is not immediately clear what the MLBPA is seeking in relief. The collectively bargained provisions do seem to give the union an interest in ensuring the provisions are followed, though, and perhaps the situation is seen as drastic enough to merit a test of their meaning before an arbitrator.

    In a statement to the Times, the league confirmed receipt of the grievance but stated that MLB “believe[s] it has no merit.” Pirates president Frank Coonelly responded with a combative tone, issuing a statement labeling the action “patently baseless” (via MLB.com’s Adam Berry, on Twitter). Rays owner Stuart Sternberg defended his own organization in less strident terms (via Topkin, on Twitter).

    Renato Nunez Suffers Left Hamstring Strain https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/west-notes-mariners-dodgers-rangers-as.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/west-notes-mariners-dodgers-rangers-as.html#comments Sun, 25 Feb 2018 02:19:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115655
  • Athletics infielder/outfielder Renato Nunez suffered a strained left hamstring Saturday, which could negatively affect his chances of earning a roster spot, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle relays. Nunez said Saturday that the injury’s “not good,” and Slusser notes that hamstring strains typically require a two- to three-week recovery period. That would be especially problematic for the out-of-options Nunez. However, it could be a boon for Sheldon Neuse, who Slusser suggests will probably see most of the action at third base with both Nunez and starter Matt Chapman (right hand soreness) on the shelf.
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    Athletics Notes: Chapman, Ballpark https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-west-notes-weaver-chapman-as-ballpark-rangers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-west-notes-weaver-chapman-as-ballpark-rangers.html#comments Sat, 24 Feb 2018 02:26:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115592 Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register has an interesting piece on Jered Weaver, the long-time Angels hurler who’s now enjoying retired life after an ill-fated stop with the Padres in 2017. The interview is well worth a read in its entirety, particularly for fans of the Halos or Weaver in particular. There is one notable bit of historical hot stove information regarding Weaver’s 2011 extension, which was widely viewed at the time as a relative bargain for the team. The 35-year-old says he got just what he wanted out of the deal, which was to sign a contract that bought out his remaining good years and allowed the organization to afford other improvements. “I would still have two more years left on my contract if I waited for free agency and signed a seven-year deal,” Weaver tells Fletcher. “There’s no way I could even pick up a ball and I’d be making like $30 million. I’m totally OK with where I’m at right now. I’m glad it unfolded the way it did. It all worked perfectly.”

    Here are a few more notes from the AL West:

    • The Athletics received promising news on third baseman Matt Chapman, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports. Chapman underwent an MRI after experiencing hand soreness, but fortunately no structural concerns were identified. He’ll continue to rest and receive a cortisone shot, but hopes are that the issue will soon be behind him. The 24-year-old only played half of the year at the MLB level in 2017 but turned in exciting results, with outstanding glovework and above-average hitting. His lofty strikeout totals remain a concern, but the A’s clearly believe Chapman can be a mainstay at the hot corner for years to come.
    • Even as the A’s continue to try to develop a new core group of young players, the organization remains engaged in a complicated stadium building effort. Matier & Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle covered the latest developments recently, with club president Dave Kaval saying the team still hopes to line up a plan by the end of the year. The Athletics believed they were on track last fall before encountering a major roadblock. As the Chronicle report explains in full, another obstacle arose to a potential site at Oakland’s Howard Terminal — an option that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has endorsed (via the Chronicle’s John Shea) — with Kaval saying the possibility of building a new facility at the location of the O.co Coliseum is “probably now the front-runner,” at least in terms of timing and feasibility, though the organization still prefers to move downtown.
    • Because the Rangers intend to utilize a six-man rotation, their bullpen plans are also changing, as Jeff Wilson of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram writes. Texas is going to ask for mutiple innings from multiple relievers, skipper Jeff Banister suggests. And some members of the rotation my pop out to the pen at times to fill in the gaps. It certainly seems to be shaping up to be an interesting experiment.
    A’s Notes: Parker, Maxwell, Rotation https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/jarrod-parker-retires-bruce-maxwell-plea-agreement-athletics.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/jarrod-parker-retires-bruce-maxwell-plea-agreement-athletics.html#comments Tue, 13 Feb 2018 23:56:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114658 Former Athletics right-hander Jarrod Parker has officially decided to halt any comeback attempts and retire, he tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The now-29-year-old Parker was a promising building block for the A’s in 2011-13, posting a 3.68 ERA through his first 384 big league innings at ages 22 through 24.

    Once the ninth overall pick in the MLB draft (Diamondbacks, 2007), Parker found his way to Oakland as part of the return that Arizona surrendered when initially acquiring a more established, controllable young righty: Trevor Cahill. Parker showed all the promise in the world, landing on five Top 100 lists from Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus after being drafted out of high school, and the fine early work in his career serves as a testament to what might have been had injuries not ruined a promising career.

    Unfortunately for the talented young Parker, his elbow simply didn’t allow him to realize his considerable potential. The righty twice underwent Tommy John surgery before fracturing his elbow in his comeback attempt from that second Tommy John procedure. Unfathomably, Parker re-fractured the epicondyle bone in his elbow, necessitating a fourth elbow surgery. Parker’s former teammate Ryan Cook, A’s executive vice president Billy Beane and former A’s lefty Barry Zito are among the notable names who raved to Slusser about Parker’s raw potential and expressed sadness over never seeing how high his ceiling could have been.

    Parker, now looking to the future, tells Slusser that he’d look to work in the health industry, potentially serving as a rehab coordinator for players returning from injury.

    A bit more on the A’s…

    • Also via Slusser, Oakland catcher Bruce Maxwell did not reach a plea agreement in his recent settlement conference, thus prompting a second such meeting to be scheduled for April 13. Maxwell, who is facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct after allegedly pointing a firearm at a delivery person back in October, is slated for an Aug. 9 trial if no plea agreement can be reached. Maxwell is still expected to serve as Oakland’s primary catcher in 2018 despite those struggles; Slusser adds (via Twitter) that GM David Forst cited the team’s long relationship with Maxwell as a factor in its decision to give him a chance as the starting backstop in 2018. Maxwell was the Athletics’ second-round pick back in the 2012 draft.
    • Jane Lee of MLB.com breaks down the rotation situation in Oakland, noting that only right-hander Kendall Graveman and left-hander Sean Manaea are considered locks to hold down a starting job at present. The final three spots are up for grabs in a race consisting of Andrew Triggs, Jharel Cotton, Daniel Mengden, Daniel Gossett and Paul Blackburn — assuming Oakland does not make any further additions to the staff. Lee adds, on Twitter, that manager Bob Melvin said Mengden’s strong finish to the season has him in the lead for the third spot in the rotation right now, but the A’s look to have a fairly sizable competition for rotation innings.
    Brewers Interested In Jharel Cotton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/reactions-to-and-effects-of-the-yu-darvish-deal.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/reactions-to-and-effects-of-the-yu-darvish-deal.html#comments Sun, 11 Feb 2018 01:21:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114418
  • The upstart Brewers were part of the Darvish derby, too, and the belief is that they also submitted a proposal of at least five years and $100MM, Heyman tweets. However, Rosenthal hears that Milwaukee’s offer “was not as competitive as reports indicated.” Further, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers may have primarily been in the running just to drive up the price for the NL Central rival Cubs. Regardless, with Darvish now out of the mix, Odorizzi and the Athletics’ Jharel Cotton are trade possibilities for the Brew Crew, according to Rosenthal.
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    A’s Defeat Kendall Graveman In Arbitration https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/as-defeat-kendall-graveman-in-arbitration.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/as-defeat-kendall-graveman-in-arbitration.html#comments Sat, 10 Feb 2018 22:22:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114402 Kendall Graveman has lost his arbitration case against the Athletics, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports via Twitter. Though he filed for $2.6MM in his first trip through the arb process (which incidentally also happened to be what MLBTR’s arbitration model projected for him), he’ll instead make the $2.3MM salary that Oakland filed for.

    The 27-year-old ground ball artist came to Oakland as one of the pieces in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays. He’s owns a career ERA of 4.11 across 411 2/3 major league innings spanning 71 starts with Oakland and five relief appearances for Toronto. His lifetime record stands at 22-24.

    Likely working against Graveman in the arbitration process is his lack of strikeouts. The righty’s K/9 over the past three seasons with the A’s stands at a paltry 5.64, a figure that ranks fourth-worst in baseball among qualified pitchers during that time span. Of course, he made up for that somewhat by posting a 51.3% ground ball rate that falls within MLB’s top 20. But arbitration panels don’t take that into account the way they do strikeouts.

    Graveman’s case was Oakland’s only one to go to trial. Now that it’s been settled, the team’s arbitration salaries are all fully resolved for the 2018 season.

    West Notes: A’s, Rangers, Bumgarner https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/west-notes-as-rangers-bumgarner.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/west-notes-as-rangers-bumgarner.html#comments Sat, 10 Feb 2018 15:09:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114370 While it’s been somewhat of a surprise to see some large market teams not spending the way they usually do, this offseason isn’t different from any other for small-market teams like the Athletics. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, low payrolls have long been “modus operandi” for the A’s, and now much of baseball is under fire for following suit. “I can’t speak for other teams, but I know for us, this scenario is not much different than it’s been for a number of years as we push for a new stadium,” Oakland Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane said. He added that the scenario is individual for each team, but for the A’s it comes down to simply not having the resources. While some are accusing MLB clubs of a “race to the bottom,” Slusser notes that youth-centric rebuilds with focus on prospects and the draft helped lead the Royals, Cubs and Astros to World Series titles in the past three seasons. Indeed, Beane said, “I’m sure that’s part of it. Sports is very copycat: Whatever succeeds, people will try.” The Athletics signed Yusmiero Petit to a two-year, $10MM contract this offseason, and also made offers to Brian Duensing and Austin Jackson before they ultimately signed with other clubs. Now, says Slusser, the A’s offseason spending is “essentially done.”

    Other notes from teams near the country’s Pacific coast…

    • Evan Grant of SportsDay dives into the questions that the Rangers will need to answer if they choose to implement a six-man rotation this season (or as manager Jeff Banister calls it, a “five-plus-one” rotation). The basic structure: have five starters who pitch regularly, and utilize a sixth pitcher as a swingman to pitch only when necessary to ensure that each pitcher gets five days off between starts. The ultimate hope is that such a configuration will keep all Rangers pitchers fresh and reduce late-season fatigue. “The schedule makes it challenging. Construction of your roster makes it challenging,” said Banister. “There is enough data that tells us there are pitchers who definitely benefit from an extra day’s rest or the routine of being on that five-day rest period or six-day rest period. You can point to ERAs. You can point to velocity. You can point to walk rates go down, strike out rates go up.” There are significant challenges in bringing this idea into reality, however. First, it’s a pretty radical change from what MLB pitchers are used to doing, and what they’ve been trained to do during their entire careers. Second, they’d need to find enough pitchers to make it a viable strategy, and the Rangers’ starting staff has more questions than answers at the moment.
    • Giants GM Bobby Evans says that there haven’t been any contract talks between the club and postseason titan Madison Bumgarner, according to a tweet from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bumgarner has long been the ace of the Giants’ pitching staff. He was drafted by the organization and has never played for another. MadBum’s posted a 3.01 ERA (3.34 xFIP) over the course of his eight-year MLB career with 8.84 K/9 against just 2.04 BB/9. The Giants own a 2019 club option over the towering lefty for a mere $12MM, so they’ll be able to control him through his age-29 campaign before he hits the open market during the 2019-2020 offseason (barring an extension).
    Plea Deal Expected For Bruce Maxwell https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-notes-red-sox-os-schoop-as-maxwell-twins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-notes-red-sox-os-schoop-as-maxwell-twins.html#comments Sat, 03 Feb 2018 05:36:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113901
  • Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell has a Feb. 12 settlement conference in Phoenix stemming from his October arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The fact there’s a conference opens the door for a plea deal with the state of Arizona, Slusser notes, and the expectation is that they will come to an agreement prior to spring training. If no deal is reached, Maxwell is scheduled to go to trial Aug. 9, which was pushed back from the original date of April 10, according to Slusser.
  • ]]>
    Brandon Moss Weighs In On Offseason Pace, CBA https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/brandon-moss-slow-free-agency-offseason-cba.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/brandon-moss-slow-free-agency-offseason-cba.html#comments Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:55:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113746 Newly reacquired Athletics slugger Brandon Moss appeared on MLB Network’s Hot Stove with Harold Reynolds, Matt Vasgersian and Ken Rosenthal earlier today and discussed not only his return to the A’s but also his candid views on the slow free-agent market (video link, CBA/free agency talk beginning around the 6:20 mark). Acknowledging that it might not be a popular opinion, Moss said that the players have no one but themselves to blame.

    “Everything that happens in the game of baseball, as far as how things are done financially, is bargained into a collective bargaining agreement,” says Moss. “The way free agency runs, the way draft money is allotted, the way international signing bonus is allotted. Everything is bargained.”

    The link between free agency and draft picks is hardly new to the current CBA, of course, as the previous iteration of the CBA actually had stricter penalization for teams that signed qualified free agents; prior to that, the old Elias Ranking System of Type A/Type B free agents also caused teams to forfeit draft picks, even allowing the team losing the player to effectively acquire a forfeited pick in the case of Type A free agents.

    But, the CBA has also increasingly limited the avenues in which teams can acquire amateur talent, and the newest iteration ties that to free agency arguably more than ever before. The fact that signing qualified free agents can now force teams to forfeit international bonus allotments, plus the hard cap on international spending are new to the 2017-21 CBA.

    Additionally, exceeding the luxury tax by a wide enough margin will eventually cause teams to see their top pick pushed back 10 slots. The new CBA also added surcharges of 12 percent and 42.5 percent for exceeding the CBT by $20MM and $40MM, respectively. Those trends, Moss continues, are troublesome more so for future generations of players than the current crop:

    “My career’s almost finished, so I don’t have to deal with this much longer, but the worry is there for me for players in the future that enough attention is not being paid to the way we allow our system to be run. I feel like we put more things that are of less value at the forefront. I feel like we’re starting to have to walk a little bit of a tightrope that we’ve created for ourselves. I think that we have given the owners and we have given the people who are very, very business savvy the opportunity to take advantage of a system that we created for ourselves.”

    The increases of penalization, relative to the shrinking means of amateur talent acquisition — hard slotting system in the draft, hard cap on international spending — has tipped the scales decidedly in favor of the owners, Moss suggests. Whereas teams once felt the need to meet or even exceed previously established market values in free agency, the more recent iterations of the CBA have done the opposite — pushing teams away from spending at previous market standards.

    “…[W]e have the right to bargain and set our price, just like the owners have the right to meet that price,” Moss says. “But what we’ve done is we have incentivized owners, we have incentivized teams to say ’We don’t want to meet that price. It costs us too much to meet that price. It costs us draft picks. It costs us international signing money. … We’re going to have to pay a tax if we go over a certain threshold’ that we (the players) set ourselves. … And the only reason those things are there is because we bargained them in. If I’m an owner, my goal is to have the bottom line be in black — to put a winner on the field and the bottom line to be in black. The more opportunity you give me to do those things, the better off I’m going to be.”

    Moss is eminently cognizant of the manner in which he has benefited from the previous efforts of the MLBPA, citing prior labor stoppages and hard-line negotiation tactics from the union that paved the way for today’s generation of players to be compensated at such a lofty level. The gratitude he feels for those efforts is almost as palpable in his comments as the concern he feels for future generations.

    “I feel like, as players, we have to watch out for our own interest,” he continues. “If you run too good of a deal out there in a bargaining agreement, then of course the owners are going to jump on it. You have to be willing to dig your heels in a little bit — fight for the things the guys in the past have fought for. … I just hate to see players like me taking advantage of a system that was set up for me, by other players, and not passing it along to the next generation of players. Everybody wants to look up and scream collusion … sooner or later, you have to take responsibility for a system you created for yourself. It’s our fault.”

    While Moss, clearly, hasn’t had to wait out this winter’s abnormally slow market, it’s worth reminding that he’s hardly unfamiliar with the process. The slugger was a free agent last offseason and was part of a class of first basemen/corner outfielders/designated hitters that developed never fully developed. He did manage to eventually secure a two-year deal that guaranteed him $12MM (on the heels of a .225/.300/.484 season and 28 homers with the Cardinals), though he waited until Feb. 1 for that contract to be finalized.

    Although wholesale changes to free agency and draft/international compensation likely won’t be implemented any time in the near future — the CBA runs through the 2021 season — the unrest among free agents and their representatives this offseason figures to be a definitive talking point in that next wave of negotiations, even if this doesn’t prove to be an ongoing trend in the future.

    That, of course, is something that can’t be determined for several years; it’s possible that this winter is somewhat anomalous in nature given the facts that a large number of teams are in rebuild mode, several typical big spenders (Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Rangers) are looking to cut back on spending and some teams are holding out for a top-heavy crop of stars next winter.

    Could the large number of rebuilding teams lead to an uptick in the number of contending clubs looking to spend in free agency in two years? Will the return of the Yankees, Giants, Dodgers and possibly the Rangers to their big-spending ways next offseason have a trickle-down effect on open-market spending? Or, will a large number of free agents settle for one-year deals in the coming weeks, setting the stage for an even more saturated class of solid-but-not-elite free agents next winter, thus creating an even larger logjam?

    Given the lack of data at present and all of those variables, we may not have a true ability to contextualize the changing pace of free agency until the 2019-20 offseason. Regardless, it’s difficult to imagine that the concerns voiced by Moss aren’t being felt by other players and won’t priorities for the union next time around. Those interested in the matter are encouraged to watch the full interview with Moss, whose candid and insightful comments bring a new perspective to what has been the largest story of the 2017-18 offseason.

    Quick Hits: Rockies, Sign-Stealing, Houck, Moss https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/quick-hits-rockies-sign-stealing-houck-moss.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/quick-hits-rockies-sign-stealing-houck-moss.html#comments Tue, 30 Jan 2018 04:20:45 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113575 The Rockies have honed in on a few targets in their search for a right-handed-hitting corner infielder, Thomas Harding of MLB.com writes. The club is reportedly considering a reunion with either Mark Reynolds or Carlos Gonzalez, while also weighing the possibility of signing Todd Frazier (Harding cites some interesting data points relating to each player). While bringing one of these players into the fold appears to be their preferred option, they’ve also got plenty of young players who could conceivably force their way into the picture (even though the ones mentioned in the piece are all left handed). The club feels as though it has a lot of flexibility due to the presence of Ian Desmond, who’s capable of playing either at first base or in the outfield.

    Here are a few other items of note from around MLB…

    • Though the pace of play debate has largely centered around replay review and the potential implementation of a pitch clock, Ken Rosenthal latest piece at The Athletic details a significant factor he believes is largely overlooked: sign-stealing. Rosenthal had an in-depth conversation with a major-league manager who believes that MLB must take action in order to prevent teams from using advanced technology to steal signs. The manager, like most around baseball, agrees that sign-stealing with one’s own eyes and relaying the signals without the help of technology is simply part of the game. Sign-stealing through the use of tech, however, is causing significant paranoia around the league and is at least one catalyst for an excess of mound visits that are slowing down the game. The manager suggests having an MLB official in every replay room around the league, while others around the league have advocated for pitchers and catchers to wear NFL-type receivers to eliminate the need for hand signals entirely. The piece provides some fascinating insight into an invasive issue that’s not talked about often enough.
    • Today, Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck became the latest player to leave agent Jason Wood and CSE, Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports (separate links). The player exodus, of course, comes in the midst of allegations that Wood filmed players in his shower with a secret camera. Houck is now with CAA sports, and joins Mitch Keller, Jake Odorizzi, Riley Pint, Joey Wentz, Cody Asche, and Taylor Gushue as players who have left CSE to sign with other agencies. As Murray points out, many are expected to follow in their footsteps, perhaps including one of the agency’s most notable clients, Andrew Benintendi.
    • After acquiring left-handed slugger Brandon Moss just earlier today, the Athletics will attempt to find a taker for him, says Rosenthal on Twitter. Moss will earn $7.25MM this season, and the Royals sent over $3.25MM along with his contract, meaning the A’s need only to pay the 34-year-old $4MM for the coming season. While that’s certainly not a handicapping salary, it’s fairly significant considering Moss doesn’t have a clear role on the team outside of perhaps being a bench bat. For his part, Moss has every intention of forcing his way into the picture. “I’m going to figure something out,” he told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m going to rake all spring and they’ll have to keep me.”
    A’s Acquire Ryan Buchter, Brandon Moss From Royals For Jesse Hahn, Heath Fillmyer https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/as-acquire-ryan-buchter-brandon-moss-from-royals-for-jesse-hahn-heath-fillmyer.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/as-acquire-ryan-buchter-brandon-moss-from-royals-for-jesse-hahn-heath-fillmyer.html#comments Tue, 30 Jan 2018 00:25:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=113557 The Royals and Athletics have agreed to a four-player swap. Left-hander Ryan Buchter and first base/DH-type Brandon Moss will head to Oakland in the deal, while right-hander Jesse Hahn and minor-league righty Heath Fillmyer are ticketed for Kansas City. The Royals also included $3.25MM in cash as part of the deal. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com was first with the news.

    Though Moss is certainly the biggest name of the four, Buchter is actually the prize for the Athletics in this deal. In fact, the inclusion of Moss in the deal is probably more related to financial implications. Indeed, Royals GM Dayton Moore told Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star that “The economic part of it is very real to us,” which has in turn led to some speculation throughout the industry that the Royals are attempting to clear salary in order to make re-signing Eric Hosmer more feasible. Moore responded to an inquiry from Flanagan on the subject, telling him that it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment on a free agent right now. However, he did add that he’s been “very clear” about what the team’s thoughts are on Hosmer.

    Turning away from speculation and rumors and focusing on the here-and-now of the deal, the A’s will fill a bullpen need by getting a much-needed lefty. Prior to this trade, the only southpaw reliever in their projected bullpen was Daniel Coulombe. Buchter will serve as a long-term piece for the budding A’s (perhaps into their next window of contention), as he’s under team control through the end of the 2021 season. The Royals, meanwhile, will add a new potential candidate to their rotation. Per Moore’s conversation with Dodd, Hahn will compete during spring training for a spot in Kansas City’s rotation.

    Ryan Buchter | Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    Buchter’s a rare type of pitcher who’s been able to consistently out-perform his peripheral statistics. The soon-to-be 31-year-old has a career 2.85 ERA against a 4.68 xFIP. The latter statistic normalizes a pitcher’s homer/fly ball ratio as a method of estimating a pitcher’s true run-prevention skills, but it doesn’t account for the fact that many of Buchter’s fly balls are actually infield pop-ups, which go for outs nearly 100% of the time. Over the past two seasons combined, Buchter’s 16.7% infield fly ball rate (IFFB) ranks 10th in the majors among qualified relievers. He also ranks 14th during that span with a 26% soft contact rate against.

    Buchter is even tougher against lefties, limiting them to a .160/.255/.306 batting line during his MLB career. The late-blooming Buchter spent a whopping eight seasons in the minors before finally making his debut with the Braves in 2014, and was shuffled through the Triple-A affiliates of the Dodgers and Cubs before finally latching on in the majors with the Padres in 2016. Interestingly, the A’s were reportedly competing with the Padres for his services as a MiLB free agent.

    As for Moss, 34, he’ll return to the team with which he broke out in 2012. That’s just about the only clarity surrounding his presence in Oakland, however. Athletics GM David Forst has already told him that it’s not clear how he fits on the roster (per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). With young phenom Matt Olson earmarked for the first base job and Khris Davis likely to assume full-time DH duties, the declining Moss doesn’t have a clear path to everyday at-bats. His sub-replacement-level 2017 performance (.207/.279/.428) was a far cry from his peak years in Oakland during which he slugged 76 homers and put up a .844 OPS across 1,381 plate appearances.

    Hahn’s had a roller coaster career. The right-hander showed great promise early on, posting a 3.07 ERA and 3.59 xFIP across 12 starts following his major-league debut with the Padres in 2014. Prior to the 2015 season, he was shipped to Oakland in the Derek Norris trade, and continued to impress with a 3.35 ERA and 52.6% ground ball rate through the first day of July. However, a flexor tendon injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, and although he’s shown flashes of brilliance since, he’s not yet been able to maintain good numbers over the course of a full season. Hahn’s posted a 5.59 ERA with a 6.05 K/9 and 3.57 BB/9 across 23 games (22 starts) across the past two years while battling a number of injuries.

    Fillmyer, 23, started 29 games for Oakland’s Double-A affiliate last season while pitching to a 3.49 ERA. MLB Pipeline considered him to be the team’s 18th-best prospect in 2017, noting his quick arm and a fastball that can reach 96MPH with good sinking action. Though his control and command took a step backwards last season, their report suggests that he can become a back-end starter at the MLB level. Fillmyer was selected by the A’s in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images