J.B. Wendelken appeared to be on his way to being a key part of the Oakland A’s bullpen.
From 2018 through 2020, he had become a solid option for then-manager Bob Melvin. Wendelken had posted a 2.30 ERA and a 0.955 WHiP in his 74.1 innings over that three year span, striking out 79 batters with 25 walks. He was not going to be in the mix for saves, but he was a solid middle relief option.
J.B. Wendelken hoping to rebuild career in Japan
That changed over the past two seasons. He posted a 4.71 ERA and a 1.445 WHiP in his 72.2 innings with the A’s and Diamondbacks since the start of the 2021 season, striking out 60 batters with 36 walks. Not only did hit strikeout and walk rates trend in the wrong direction, but he had regression with the batted ball as well with a .310 batting average on balls in play against.
As he was unable to find a major league offer, Wendelken is heading overseas. According to Jon Heyman, Wendelken is set to sign a one year deal with an option for 2024 with the Yokohama BayStars that could be worth just over $3 million.
He is now the third former A’s player to head to Nippon Professional Baseball. Matt Davidson had signed with the Hiroshima Carp while Sheldon Neuse is set to sign with the Hanshin Tigers. Wendelken, as with that duo, is hoping that his time overseas can jumpstart his career.
It is entirely possible that is the case. Pitchers have gone to Japan and found success in their return stateside. If Wendelken can find that success with the BayStars, he could parlay that showing, and his previously strong performances with the A’s, into another major league opportunity.
J.B. Wendelken is looking to resurrect his career. He had joined the growing list of former Oakland A’s players who ar heading to Japan for 2023.