The A’s announced Monday that they’ve claimed righty Gabe Klobosits off waivers from the Nationals and, in a corresponding move, designated outfielder Luis Barrera for assignment. Oakland’s 40-man roster remains at capacity.
Klobosits, a towering 6’8″ right-hander, made his big league debut with the Nationals last season and allowed seven earned runs on 13 hits and five walks with five strikeouts through 11 1/3 innings of relief. He averaged 94.8 mph on his heater during that time and induced chases on pitches outside the strike zone at a gaudy 35.6% clip, both of which surely hold some appeal to the A’s. The former 36th-round pick also posted a brilliant 1.64 ERA with a sizable 28.9% strikeout rate against a respectable 8.8% walk rate in a combined 38 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year.
It’s an intriguing profile in the first place, and the fact that Klobosits still has a pair of minor league option year remaining makes it all the more appealing. The Athletics’ bullpen picture is pretty much wide open after the team let several veterans walk and did nothing to reinforce the group via free agency. Klobosits should have ample opportunity to make an impression on the A’s this year.
As for the also-26-year-old Barrera, he’s long rated as one of the better prospects in the Oakland system but has seen his stock dip in recent years. The left-handed-hitting, left-handed-throwing Barrera put the ball in play and drew plenty of walks in Triple-A last year, but he showed minimal power en route to a .276/.348/.393 batting line that checked in at 12% worse than league-average by measure of wRC+. Scouting reports on Barrera peg him as a capable defender at any of the three outfield spots with well above-average speed. He ranked 24th among A’s prospects at Baseball America and 32nd at FanGraphs.
Despite last year’s 10.1% walk rate in Triple-A, however, virtually every report on Barrera cites a need to be more selective at the plate. BA notes that he swung at 48% of the pitches he saw in 2021, which makes that walk rate both remarkable and, quite possibly, anomalous in nature. Still, Barrera has a solid track record up through Double-A, and even if his ceiling is ultimately that of a fourth outfielder, he’s a largely MLB-ready one. Viewed through that lens, it’s rather surprising to see the A’s jettison Barrera in this manner, but the organization must feel fairly confident in its outfield depth beyond him. The A’s will have a week to trade Barrera or try to pass him through outright waivers.