Oakland A’s: Finding a role for Sheldon Neuse

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Sheldon Neuse #64 of the Oakland Athletics runs to first base in the fourth inning during the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 24, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Athletics 3-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Sheldon Neuse #64 of the Oakland Athletics runs to first base in the fourth inning during the MLB game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 24, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The Angels defeated the Athletics 3-2. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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Sheldon Neuse did not get a look with the Oakland A’s in 2020. That may well change in 2021 due to expected free agency departures.

In theory, Sheldon Neuse had a role to play for the Oakland A’s in 2020. Second base was relatively unsettled, with the duo of Tony Kemp and Chad Pinder not exactly performing to expectations. Both Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien missed time over the course of the season. There was an opportunity for Neuse to get a look.

Instead, he spent the entire summer at the A’s alternate training site in San Jose. The A’s were able to upgrade second base via the trade market with their acquisition of Tommy La Stella, and did manage to locate Jake Lamb off the waiver wire. Neuse was seemingly never an option despite those issues.

But that may not be the case going forward. Semien, La Stella, and Lamb are all free agents. While the A’s have stated their desire to keep Semien and La Stella, their budget may not allow that to happen. The A’s may need to look internally for at least one of those areas.

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Enter Neuse. Although he has primarily been a third baseman in the minors, he did get some playing time at both short and second. Neuse also spent most of his time at second during his brief major league stint in 2019, with 20 of his 25 appearances coming at the keystone.

A career .294/.354/.458 hitter in his four minor league seasons, Neuse held his own in his brief time in the majors. In his 61 plate appearances, he recorded 14 hits, with three doubles, while drawing four walks. His strikeout rate was a concern, as Neuse did go down via the K 19 times, but he showed solid defense and the potential to be a useful piece going forward.

That time could come as soon as 2021. Neuse fits either opening in the middle of the infield, and would be a solid option if Chapman is hampered at the start of the season. He also displayed a solid batting eye and contact skills in the minors, something that the A’s value.

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Sheldon Neuse was unable to get a chance in 2020. However, with the mass exodus expected in free agency, he could get a look with the Oakland A’s in 2021.

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