The Oakland Athletics made a series of roster moves on Monday, some of which make you question the sanity of the front office staff. It’s no secret that the A’s are working with the thinnest budget in all of Major League Baseball, but there has to be some semblance of direction and we’re just not seeing that.
The A’s have added utility man Miguel Andujar, who was waived by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend. Andujar had long been the subject of fake trade proposals made by Yankees fans who overestimated his value. After failing for years to find a trade partner, the Yankees waived him in September of 2022, and he was picked up by the Pirates.
In 2023, Andujar had his best season since the 2018 campaign. He hit .250/.300/.476 for the Pirates this year in 90 plate appearances. He added four home runs and two steals with poor corner outfield defense.
Andujar was never a strong defensive third baseman and the A’s seemingly have their outfield and first base slots locked in for 2024, so it’s difficult to see how he fits onto the roster. Giving him playing time over Brent Rooker, JJ Bleday, Lawrence Butler, Tyler Stephenson, or even Lazaro Armenteros seems like a waste of developmental opportunity. We’ll see if he makes it through the winter on the 40-man but if he does, it will give Mark Kotsay an interesting lineup construction challenge.
A's outright four pitchers to make room for Rule 5 protection candidates
In addition to Andujar, the A’s have outrighted a number of players off the 40-man. Pitchers Anthony Kay, Easton Lucas, Tayler Scott, and Chad Smith were all outrighted to make room for the A’s Rule 5 draft eligible players.
Kay was claimed off waivers from the Mets just two weeks ago. He stumbled through the 2023 season, spending time in the Mets and Cubs organizations and never finding his footing at the major league level. Kay was once a rated prospect, but the shine has come completely off after poor performance in his five major league seasons.
Lucas was acquired in the Shintaro Fujinami deal with the Orioles. He struggled in Las Vegas and got hit hard during his call up in Oakland. He had shown some promise in Baltimore’s system in late 2021 and 2022 but the transition from Double-A to Triple-A didn’t go as planned. Lucas should clear waivers and start the 2024 season with the Aviators.
The 31-year-old Scott has pitched in ten organizations in his 11 years as a professional. He pitched well at Triple-A after the A’s acquired him in 2023 and had some success in his eight major league appearances for Oakland. He’s gotten plenty of strikeouts in the minors, but he allows too many walks. He’s unlikely to have an impact in Oakland in 2024.
Like the other three, Chad Smith struggled at all levels in 2023. He got hit hard in Triple-A and struggled to get outs during his call up to Oakland. Like Scott, Smith has shown good strikeout stuff in the minors but doesn’t have the control to make it work. His mid-90’s sinker is a strong pitch, but he can’t keep the slider in the zone and it’s not good enough to get hitters to chase pitches outside. Smith will likely clear waivers but might find himself back in Oakland in 2024.
While we remain optimistic that David Forst will use these roster vacancies on players that will have a positive impact on future A’s squads, it’s tough to see the vision at the moment.