- Also outrighted following a DFA was Athletics righty Zach Neal. The 28-year-old appeared in the majors for the first time in 2016, posting a 4.24 ERA over 70 innings. Reflecting his long history as a low-strikeout, low-walk hurler, Neal retired just 27 opposing batters via strikes but also put only six on base via the free pass. Having cleared waivers, and lacking the ability to reject an assignment, he’ll provide the A’s with some upper-level pitching depth in 2017.
2:10pm: Rosales’ contract will guarantee him $1.25MM, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
12:06pm: The Athletics announced on Wednesday that they’ve signed veteran infielder Adam Rosales to a one-year, Major League deal. MLB.com’s Jane Lee tweets that left-handed pitcher Dillon Overton has been designated for assignment to clear a spot on the roster.
[Related: Updated Oakland Athletics Depth Chart]
Rosales, 34 in May, is certainly no stranger to the Athletics, having spent parts of four previous seasons in Oakland. The Hilliard Sports Management client was notoriously involved in a rapid waiver cycle with the A’s and Rangers back in 2013, during which he went from Oakland to Texas, back to Oakland and back to Texas in a span of 10 days.
Most recently, however, Rosales had a late breakout with the Padres in 2016. Long known for his defensive versatility, Rosales was an unexpected source of power for the Friars last season, batting .229/.319/.495 with 13 homers and 12 doubles in just 248 plate appearances. In particular, Rosales was a weapon against left-handers, as he slashed .237/.348/.495 with six homers in 115 PAs while holding the platoon advantage.
The bulk of Rosales’ defensive work with San Diego came at second base and third base, though he also saw some time at shortstop, in left field and a singular inning at first base. Throughout his career, Rosales has logged more than 1000 innings at second base, more than 900 innings at third base, more than 600 innings at shortstop and more than 500 innings at first base. He’ll give A’s manager Bob Melvin a versatile defensive option to match up with left-handers over the course of the 2017 season.
The 25-year-old Overton was Oakland’s second-round pick back in 2013 and made his MLB debut last season, struggling to an ERA of 11.47 in 24 1/3 innings. The Oklahoma product did have a solid campaign in Triple-A Nashville, where he tossed 125 1/3 innings of 3.29 ERA ball and averaged 7.7 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 to go along with a 34.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Overton ranked as Oakland’s No. 8 prospect as recently as the 2015-16 offseason, per Baseball America, whose scouting report on the southpaw noted that his success would ultimately be determined by how much velocity he could regain following 2013 Tommy John surgery. Overton worked in the mid-90s in college but was in the upper 80s following his operation. The velocity seemingly never returned, as he averaged just 88.3 mph on his heater last year. BA’s report on him did note that he could potentially become a “finesse, back-of-the-rotation lefty,” so perhaps a team with uncertainty in the fourth and fifth spot of its rotation will take a flier on him. He’s performed well at every minor league stop he’s had in spite of the velocity decrease.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
12:08pm: The Dodgers have announced the deal. Minor league infielder Jordan Tarsovich is headed to the Athletics in the swap. The 25-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa, batting .219/.325/.343. He’s spent time at shortstop, second base and third base since being selected in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft.
10:41am: The Athletics have agreed to a trade that will send outfielder Brett Eibner to the Dodgers in exchange for a minor leaguer, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Eibner was designated for assignment by Oakland last week.
The 28-year-old Eibner will add another right-handed bat to the Dodgers’ outfield mix. While he struggled at the plate in his big league debut this past season, hitting just .191/.266/.353 in 208 plate appearances. Eibner has a much stronger Triple-A track record and is considered an above-average defender that is capable of playing all three outfield positions. In parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level (979 plate appearances), Eibner is a .280/.356/.474 hitter. As a bonus, he has two minor league options remaining, so the Dodgers can stash Eibner in the minors as a depth piece if he doesn’t break camp with the Major League club.
From 2010-15, Baseball America rated Eibner among the Royals’ top 30 prospects, calling him a plus defensive outfielder with above-average speed and potential 15-homer pop as recently as the 2015-16 offseason. BA also noted, though, that he’s a streaky hitter that is prone to lengthy slumps, making him a tricky player to deploy in a bench capacity. Kansas City traded Eibner to Oakland last summer in a straight-up swap for fellow outfielder Billy Burns.
The Dodgers, of course, already have a plethora of outfield options — Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles, Trayce Thompson, Andre Ethier, Scott Van Slyke and Enrique Hernandez are all on the 40-man roster — but the team clearly still saw value in Eibner despite a glut of outfielders. As a potential plus defender with minor league options and a history of hitting left-handed pitching (an area where the Dodgers flailed after injuries to Thompson, Van Slyke and Hernandez last season), it’s not difficult to see why he’d hold appeal — especially at a modest cost of acquisition.
The Athletics have signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training, the team announced on Friday. De Aza can earn at a $1.75MM rate if he cracks the MLB roster, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links), with another $1MM in available incentives.
De Aza, 33 in April, posted underwhelming numbers with the Mets after signing a one-year deal last winter, though he finished the year considerably better than he began. After batting a woeful .158/.216/.232 through the end of June, De Aza turned a corner and slashed a respectable .237/.348/.381 from July 1 through season’s end (164 plate appearances). He’s also just one season removed from a solid .262/.333/.422 batting line in 365 plate appearances split between the Orioles, Red Sox and Giants.
The A’s currently figure to have Khris Davis, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce and Jake Smolinski see plenty of time in the outfield now that Brett Eibner has been designated for assignment. De Aza will compete for a bench spot and could serve as a left-handed complement to either Davis (both hit right-handed), though he’s spent considerably more time in the corner outfield than he has in center in recent years. De Aza did log nearly 300 innings in center for the Mets last season and receive roughly average rankings from Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating, but his overall marks since 2012 aren’t encouraging and, at age 33, it’s tough to reasonably expect a dramatic rebound.
The Athletics announced on Friday that they’ve designated outfielder Brett Eibner for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for right-hander Santiago Casilla, whose two-year deal with the club is now official.
The 28-year-old Eibner’s stay with Oakland proved to be short-lived, as he was acquired from the Royals this past July in a straight-up swap for fellow outfielder Billy Burns. Eibner made his Major League debut with the Royals this season and also logged 123 plate appearances with Oakland, though he didn’t produce at the plate with either club. In a total of 208 trips to the plate, Eibner batted just .193/.266/.353.
Eibner, though, can play all three outfield positions and has a quite productive track record in Triple-A, where he’s spent parts of three seasons. At the top minor league level, Eibner’s a .280/.356/.474 hitter with 38 homers and 20 steals in 979 plate appearances. While he’s never rated as an elite prospect, he was a mainstay on Baseball America’s top 30 Royals prospect lists from 2010-15, ranking 17th as recently as two winters ago. BA noted that Eibner is a plus defender in center and an above-average runner with 15-homer pop. However, he’s also extremely streaky and prone to prolonged slumps, per their most recent report.
Eibner does have minor league options remaining, so any team that picks him up could send him to the minors without exposing him to waivers and utilize him as a depth piece even if there’s no immediately available place on the 25-man roster.
Right-hander Santiago Casilla has spent his entire career calling the Bay Area home, and that trend will continue in 2017, as he’s signed a two-year deal with the Athletics, the team announced on Friday. Casilla will reportedly be guaranteed a total of $11MM and can earn up to $3MM ($1.5MM each season) worth of incentives based on the number of games he finishes.
The 36-year-old Casilla, who is represented by the Legacy Agency, has spent the past seven seasons pitching for the Giants, and prior to that, he spent parts of six seasons pitching for the A’s (two of those years under the name Jairo Garcia).
Casilla spent parts of four seasons serving as the closer in San Francisco, and he’ll add another intriguing arm to a crowded ninth-inning scene in Oakland. Left-hander Sean Doolittle and right-hander Ryan Madson each has recent experience closing out games for manager Bob Melvin, while righty John Axford is just a season removed from picking up 25 saves for the Rockies. Right-hander Ryan Dull also enjoyed a dominant rookie campaign, posting a 2.42 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 33.2 percent ground-ball rate in 74 1/3 innings across 70 relief appearances. Casilla now joins that mix and gives Melvin another late-inning option with a strong track record.
In his seven seasons with the Giants, Casilla has logged a pristine 2.42 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 51.7 percent ground-ball rate. He’s saved 123 games for the Giants in that time and, of course, been a part of three World Series victories as well. The 2016 season, though, represented somewhat of a struggle. While he finished the year with a respectable 3.57 ERA, Casilla also suffered nine blown saves and ultimately lost his grip on the closer’s role in San Francisco. Casilla has seen his ground-ball rate decline over the past two years, and perhaps unsurprisingly his home-run rate has spiked as well.
The 2016 season came with plenty of positives as well, however, as Casilla’s 10.1 K/9 rate was the best of his career, and his 93.6 mph average fastball perfectly matched his average velocity from the 2011 campaign — his age-30 season. Casilla’s 2.95 BB/9 rate was also the second-best mark of his career. If Casilla can rein in the home runs to which he’s suddenly become susceptible, his mid-3.00s ERA could trend more closely to its previous levels, as the majority of his secondary stats remain strong.
Of course, the addition of another late-inning arm to the Oakland relief corps could also allow president of baseball operations Billy Beane, GM David Forst and the rest of the Athletics’ front office explore the possibility of trading from its bullpen to address other areas of need on the roster (or simply to bolster the team’s farm system).
It’s been a busy week for the Oakland front office, as Casilla represents the third free agent signed by the A’s in that stretch. Oakland has also picked up veteran outfielder Rajai Davis (another former Athletic) and infielder Trevor Plouffe on a pair of one-year deals in recent days.
Robert Murray of FanRag Sports first reported that the two sides were closing in on a two-year deal (on Twitter). Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that an agreement was in place (Twitter link). MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported the financial terms (on Twitter), and Slusser tweeted further details on the incentives.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
JAN. 19: FanRag’s Jon Heyman tweets that Detwiler’s deal contains a $1MM base salary upon making the Major League roster in addition to incentives.
JAN. 18: The A’s have agreed to a minor league contract with lefty Ross Detwiler, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). The 30-year-old will return to the A’s organization as a non-roster invite and compete for a job in Spring Training.
Detwiler, a client of CAA, spent the majority of the 2016 season with Oakland, tossing 44 innings in green and gold. However, he struggled quite a bit, logging a 6.14 earned run average with 4.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. The former No. 6 overall pick was once a very solid arm for the Nationals, who originally drafted him, pitching to a 3.61 ERA over the course of 394 1/3 innings from 2010-14. A trade to the Rangers prior to the 2015 season marked the beginning of a pronounced decline for Detwiler, though, and he’s limped to a 6.73 ERA in 107 innings with the Rangers, Braves, Indians and A’s since that time.
Though Detwiler made seven starts for Oakland down the stretch last season, he seems like a notable long shot to factor into the team’s rotation mix. The A’s will trot out a group consisting of Sonny Gray, Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman, with Andrew Triggs and Jharel Cotton as likely candidates for the final two spots. Others that will be in consideration for rotation work include Jesse Hahn, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn, Frankie Montas and Dillon Overton. However, Sean Doolittle is the only lefty that’s a lock to make Oakland’s bullpen in 2017, so Detwiler could compete for a left-handed setup gig or a long relief role. In parts of nine Major League seasons, left-handed hitters have batted just .233/.313/.304 against Detwiler (including a .237/.304/.342 slash last year).
- The Astros haven’t given up on the notion of acquiring one of Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana or Chris Archer and remain in contact with the Athletics, White Sox and Rays, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted recently. The extreme asking prices on each starter makes it seem unlikely that Houston would be able to pry any of that trio loose. They’ve already balked at Chicago’s reported asking price of Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove for Quintana, and MLB Network’s Peter Gammons tweets that he received a flat “No” when he asked one source if Gray could land in Houston. Archer, meanwhile, seems like an even longer shot to contend. The Rays have already moved one of their starters, trading Drew Smyly to the Mariners, and the remainder of their offseason dealings have been largely focused in improving the 2017 club.
Neal, 28, made his MLB debut last year, throwing 70 innings of 4.24 ERA ball over six starts and 18 relief appearances. Though he managed only 27 strikeouts, he also permitted just six walks in that stretch while relying on a variety of fastballs (including a cutter sometimes classified as a slider), a change, and a little-used curve.
A noted control artist in the minors, Neal has worked mostly as a starter over his professional career. Over parts of three seasons at Triple-A, he has compiled a 3.95 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9.
JANUARY 18: The A’s have announced the deal. Plouffe gets a $5.25MM guarantee, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). He can also earn $150K upon reaching 350 plate appearances, another $300K if he gets to 450, and then $300K more if he reaches 525 trips to the plate, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There’s also a one-time, $250K trade bonus.
JANUARY 11: Plouffe is expected to receive around $5MM of guaranteed money in the deal, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). There are also incentives, though details remain unknown.
JANUARY 10: The Athletics have an agreement in place with free agent infielder Trevor Plouffe, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The deal, which is pending a physical, will be a one-year agreement, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). She adds that Plouffe is likely to see the bulk of the playing time at third base for the A’s next season, with Ryon Healy shifting to designated hitter and first base. Plouffe is represented by CAA Baseball.
[Related: Updated Oakland Athletics Depth Chart]
Prior to this new deal with the A’s, the 30-year-old Plouffe had spent his entire career in the Twins organization. A first-round pick by Minnesota back in 2004, Plouffe took quite some time to blossom into an everyday Major Leaguer but cemented himself as the Twins’ everyday third baseman beginning in 2012. That season saw Plouffe belt 24 homers in 119 games, and while that mark still stands as a career-best, Plouffe has consistently shown solid pop from the right side of the plate over the life of his big league career. In his first four seasons as a regular, he proved to be a roughly league-average bat, hitting .248/.312/.426 and averaging 23 homers per 162 games played. A right-handed hitter, Plouffe has been significantly more productive against lefties (career .268/.344/.465) than righties (.239/.294/.403).
This past year, Plouffe hit .260/.303/.420 with 12 homers in an injury-ravaged season that included three trips to the disabled list for an intercostal strain, a fractured rib and an oblique strain. Those three maladies combined to limit Plouffe to just 84 games and 344 plate appearances — both his lowest marks since establishing himself as a regular with the Twins. The three trips to the DL, Plouffe’s projected $8.2MM price tag in arbitration (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) and a stacked corner infield/DH scene in Minnesota prompted the new Twins front office to part ways with Plouffe following the season rather than tender him a contract in arbitration.
Despite possessing fairly notable platoon splits, it seems that Plouffe will be in line for near-everyday at-bats, as was the case during his tenure with the Twins. Plouffe never rated as an exceptional defender at the hot corner, but the converted shortstop went from dreadful Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating marks to above-average grades over the course of his time in Minnesota as he grew more accustomed to his new position. (His 2016 defensive metrics were poor, though certainly one can imagine his persistent injuries impacting his mobility on the field.)
From 2014-15, Plouffe posted a +5 DRS and +8.4 UZR, so with better health there’s reason to believe he can return to form with the glove. That would be an improvement over the younger Healy, who was below average per DRS (-2) and UZR (-9.4). Though Healy may not see many reps at third base in 2017, it seems logical to expect that the A’s will want to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible. The 25-year-old compiled a .305/.337/.524 slash with 13 homers through 72 games as a rookie, suggesting that he could be a 20-homer bat for the A’s even if his .352 BABIP is bound to regress to some extent.
Plouffe also reportedly drew interest from the Red Sox, Braves and Royals, and he was speculatively linked to the Marlins as well. Instead, he’ll opt for a homecoming of sorts, returning to his home state (albeit a few hundred miles north of his Los Angeles area roots) and a presumably larger role as he takes aim at a healthier season in 2017.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.