The Athletics announced Tuesday that they’ve designated infielders Ernie Clement and Yonny Hernandez for assignment. Their spots on the 40-man roster will go to veterans Jace Peterson and Aledmys Diaz, each of whom signed a two-year contract with Oakland last week. That pair of deals has now been formally announced by the team.’
Clement, 26, was a late-September waiver claim out of the Guardians organization and appeared in six games for the A’s down the stretch, going 1-for-18 in that tiny sample. He’s appeared in 109 big league games across the past two seasons and tallied 312 plate appearances, albeit with just a .204/.261/.264 slash to show for it. Clement, however, has drawn outstanding defensive grades in a limited sample of 313 innings at third base (plus-5 Defensive Runs Saved, plus-7 Outs Above Average). He’s long been viewed as a player whose game is more built around speed and defensive versatility, though if he’s to eventually carve out a role as utility player he’ll need to hit more than he has.
In parts of three Triple-A seasons, Clement carries a much more palatable .261/.311/.419 batting line, and he has a minor league option remaining as well. He’s spent time at all four infield positions and in both outfielder corners as a professional, even tossing a pair of mop-up relief innings in the Majors. He also logged a fair bit of time in center field in college at the University of Virgina.
Hernandez, 24, is a similarly versatile player in the speed-and-defense utilityman mold. The A’s claimed him off waivers from the D-backs earlier this winter. He’s managed just a .198/.293/.228 batting line in 194 Major League plate appearances but carries a .245/.384/.324 batting line in 549 Triple-A plate appearances. Hernandez walks at a high clip and rarely strikes out, though his contact-oriented approach is entirely devoid of power, so the balls he puts into play are rarely hit hard — evidenced by the fact that he has just five home runs in 586 professional games (all in the minors).
That said, Hernandez has drawn plus marks for his glovework at three positions, per Defensive Runs Saved: third base (6 in 299 innings), second base (2 in 84 innings) and shortstop (2 in 39 innings). He’s also swiped 32 bases in each of the past two seasons. While Clement has one minor league option remaining, Hernandez has two.
The A’s will have a week to trade either player or else place them outright waivers, at which point they can be claimed by any other team willing to commit a 40-man roster spot. Should they clear waivers, both players could be retained as Triple-A depth without requiring a 40-man roster spot.