Oakland Athletics make surprise roster move, send Ryan Noda to Triple-A

The Athletics have demoted Ryan Noda after a poor start to 2024
Apr 12, 2024; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Ryan Noda (49) reacts by
Apr 12, 2024; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics first baseman Ryan Noda (49) reacts by / Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Athletics have optioned first baseman Ryan Noda to Triple-A Las Vegas, clearing a roster spot to activate infielder JD Davis from the IL.

Noda had a solid year in 2023 as a Rule 5 pick, hitting .229/.364/.406 in just under 500 plate appearances. He didn't quite have the power you'd hope for from a first baseman and he struck out a bit too much, but he showed enough promise that most A's fans figured he'd be in Oakland for the foreseeable future.

That vibe fell apart pretty quickly as Noda has struggled in the early going in 2024. He'd fallen all the way down to .133/.242/.205 this year with a 31.3% strikeout rate and just 4 extra base hits in 96 plate appearances.

As of Wednesday evening, the Athletics have not officially announced a corresponding roster move. They have an off day tomorrow but are expected to activate JD Davis off the IL prior to Friday's matchup with the Marlins.

What's the impact of Noda's demotion?

Rather than send one of Darell Hernaiz or Max Schuemann back down, the A's have opted to boot Noda in hopes of getting his swing right at Triple-A and hopefully get some confidence back in the meantime.

In Davis' absence, a number of guys have gotten playing time at third base. Abraham Toro, Tyler Nevin, and Hernaiz had gotten the bulk of the reps there, though none of those three possess elite defense at the hot corner.

Given the nature of Davis' groin injury, it's possible that the A's want to keep him at first base for the next few weeks while he works his way back to full health. Moving Noda down allows the A's to keep using that trio of Toro, Nevin, and Hernaiz in various infield roles while getting Davis regular reps between first base and DH.

Nevin has been hitting well enough to warrant keeping him in the lineup but his two throwing errors at third base on Wednesday afternoon speak to his questionable defense there. Unfortunately, Hernaiz's bat has been nearly as bad as Noda's so while he's arguably the best defender of the three, he's also the worst hitter.

As long as Zack Gelof remains on the IL, manager Mark Kotsay will have some choices to make in terms of lineup construction. As it stands, the A's have been platooning and trying to mitigate weaknesses at every turn.

We'll likely see Nevin get the majority of reps at third, while Hernaiz splits time at shortstop with Nick Allen. Toro will likely handle second base more often, and occasionally swap in to give Davis a break at first. With any luck, Noda will get his act together and force the A's to get him back up to the majors asap.