The Athletics announced this afternoon they’ve outrighted infielder Vimael Machín off the 40-man roster. Oakland’s 40-man roster now sits at 38. Additionally, Oakland announced that non-roster invitee Eric Thames has been reassigned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Machín has suited up with the A’s in each of the past two seasons after being selected out of the Cubs organization in the 2019 Rule 5 draft. The left-handed hitter has tallied 108 combined MLB plate appearances, putting up a .179/.264/.200 slash line without a home run. The Puerto Rico native fared much better on optional assignment to Las Vegas, however. In 393 Triple-A plate appearances last year, he hit .295/.389/.479 with 11 homers. Along the way, he walked in an impressive 12.5% of his trips to the plate while striking out just 18.3% of the time.
With just over one year of big league time under his belt, Machín doesn’t have enough service to refuse an outright assignment. He’ll head to Las Vegas and remain in the organization as a non-roster depth option. With Machín off the big league club, it looks as if the A’s will open the season with an infield group of Jed Lowrie, Tony Kemp, Elvis Andrus, Kevin Smith and Sheldon Neuse.
It’s a moderate surprise Thames won’t be in that mix. The slugging first baseman joined the organization on a minors pact over the offseason. He’d been slated to spend the 2021 campaign with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, but he missed virtually the entire season after rupturing an Achilles in his first game. Lost season notwithstanding, Thames looked a good candidate to play first base for an Oakland team that traded Matt Olson to Atlanta. Instead, it seems the A’s will rely on a combination of Lowrie, corner outfielder Seth Brown and perhaps catcher Stephen Vogt at the position.
Whether Thames will wind up reporting to the Aviators is unclear. It’s not uncommon for non-roster deals for veterans of his ilk to contain opt-out clauses at the end of Spring Training if the player doesn’t make the big league club.