The Oakland Athletics designated rookie starting pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment on Friday, February 12, 2016.
On Friday, the Oakland Athletics acquired outfielder Khris Davis from the Milwaukee Brewers. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, they designated starting pitcher Sean Nolin for assignment. The designation of Nolin comes as quite a shock because he was a big part of the Josh Donaldson trade in 2014.
Nolin was not a top prospect when the A’s acquired him two years ago, but this lefty was underrated and expected to be a No. 4 or 5 starter in the rotation in 2015. He had quickly worked his way through the minors after being drafted in the sixth round in 2010 and made his major league debut on May 24, 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
When Nolin came to the A’s in 2014, he unfortunately had been dealing with a persistent groin injury that led him to miss most of the 2015 season. However, during the times that he did pitch in Triple-A last year, he did quite well. In 2015, Nolin had a 2.66 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP over 14 games – 12 of those in which he started. Because of the injuries that plagued that Athletics’ rotation last year, Nolin was called up in September to fill a rotation spot. He did struggle slightly in Oakland, posting a 5.28 ERA over six starts, but he was not any worse than the other backup starters who also joined the rotation late in the season.
Even though Nolin was injured for the majority of the year and did not perform that well during his short time in the majors in 2015, the A’s should still give him a chance instead of designating him for assignment. It is clear that he will not earn a spot in the 2016 starting rotation out, but he would provide quality pitching depth for the Athletics. Also, he is only 26 years old and still has some time to grow and tweak his craft.
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Additionally, there are some other pitchers, who do not have as much potential as Nolin, that could have been designated for assignment such as Felix Doubront or Aaron Brooks. These two are also starting pitchers who will not make the rotation this upcoming season. But, for some reason, the Athletics think that these two starters will provide more quality pitching depth than Nolin. Neither of Doubront or Brooks is as consistent or has as much potential as Nolin and neither of them were that impressive in 2015. Brooks really only had a two good outings as a starter with the A’s while Doubront could barely last six innings during his starts.
As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle told 95.7 The Game on Friday, she was even surprised by the move because the A’s do like Nolin and what he brings to the mound. She speculated that perhaps the A’s are hoping Nolin can clear waivers. Or, maybe Oakland will be able to use him in a beneficial trade within the 10 day time frame since he will definitely draw some interest from other teams.
It is exciting that the Oakland Athletics have acquired a potentially everyday starting left fielder. However, they made a mistake by designating Sean Nolin for assignment. Fans are probably going to see Nolin pitching in a starting rotation in some other ball club later this year.