The biggest news on Wednesday for the Oakland A’s involved Matt Chapman. The Gold Glove third baseman had been sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package of prospects as the fire sale continues. Chapman will not be the last player to depart the clubhouse in the coming days either.
But the A’s made other moves on Wednesday. They signed Billy McKinney to a minor league contract and invited him to the major league side of spring training while bringing Sheldon Neuse back as a waiver claim.
Oakland A’s bring in Billy McKinney, Sheldon Neuse
Neuse is a familiar name for A’s fans as he spent almost four years in the organization. Originally acquired from the Nationals as part of the return for Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson, he was sent to the Giants in the trade for Adam Kolarek.
He had been a reasonably well regarded prospect for the A’s, producing a .291/.349/.459 batting line in his 1446 plate appearances at Triple-A, hitting 45 homers and 70 doubles. However, he has not yet had that degree of success at the major league level, producing a .207/.236/.314 batting line in 127 plate appearances, hitting three homers and four doubles.
McKinney is a similar player in that he was also a fairly well regarded prospect, seeing time on top 100 lists in 2015 and 2016. That previous status made the former A’s first round pick a hotly desired player, as he has spent time in the Cubs, Yankees, Blue Jays, Brewers, Mets, and Dodgers organizations as well.
And as with Neuse, that minor league success has not translated to the majors. McKinney has a .215/.286/.404 batting line in his 711 major league plate appearances. He has displayed some pop, hitting 27 homers and 32 doubles, and has been a solid defensive player, but has not been able to get consistent playing time.
That could change for both players in 2022. The A’s are going to have plenty of openings, and McKinney and Neuse have the defensive versatility that could land them a spot on the bench. It is also entirely possible that they get a look at a starting role. Sometimes, all a player needs is a chance and consistent playing time to reach their potential. The A’s hope that will be the case here.
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The Oakland A’s have added a pair of former prospects in Billy McKinney and Sheldon Neuse. Both may finally get a chance to prove themselves in 2022.