Should Oakland A’s stick it out with Ka’ai Tom?

The Oakland A’s find themselves in a bit of a roster crunch. While they have a plethora of utility options, they do not have a real backup at shortstop on the roster. Matt Chapman and Jed Lowrie could, in theory, fill in for Elvis Andrus should something happen in game, but the A’s do not have a viable way to give their shortstop a day off if needed.

However, the A’s do have a possible roster spot available, but it would involve a sacrifice they may not want to make. Ka’ai Tom must remain on the roster for the 2021 season as a Rule V Draftee, but his production to this point has not warranted that coveted 26th place in the majors.

Can Oakland A’s wait for Ka’ai Tom?

Tom had been a revelation in spring training. His .310/.412/.552 batting line, with two doubles, a triple, and a homer over his 34 plate appearances, give the A’s hope that he could be their next Rule V steal. With an ability to play all three outfield positions, he played his way onto the roster.

The problem is that spring training statistics mean absolutely nothing once the calendar turns and the regular season begins. That has been the case with Tom, as he simply has not produced in his opportunities thus far. He has just one hit in his 16 at bats, striking out six times. In fact, his highlight as a major league came with his appearance on the mound.

Normally, this would not be too much of a cause for concern. There is bound to be an adjustment period as the 27 year old had just 211 plate appearances at the Triple-A level. As Tom has hit at every level he has played at, he just may need a bit more time to adjust to major league pitching.

The problem is the A’s relative lack of depth on the infield. Oakland can cover an absence in the outfield with Seth Brown and Tony Kemp. They cannot, however, say the same at shortstop, which could be a problem moving forward.

It is also possible that Andrus could benefit from a day off. He had posted a -5 OPS+ heading into Thursday’s action, with just five hits, including two doubles, in his 45 plate appearances. A day off to clear his mind would make sense if the A’s had a viable backup option.

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The Oakland A’s have to keep Ka’ai Tom on the major league roster all season. With a current lack of infield depth, that may be difficult to do.