Yacksel Rios joins A's MLB roster, Chad Smith gets demoted

Yacksel Rios, Puerto Rico, Oakland Athletics, Oakland A's
Yacksel Rios, Puerto Rico, Oakland Athletics, Oakland A's / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Oakland Athletics made some roster moves on Tuesday, June 20, most importantly selecting the contract of right-handed pitcher Yacksel Rios who the organization acquired from the Atlanta Braves at the start of the week.

In order to make room for Rios' arrival in the major league roster, the A's have sent right-hander Chad Smith to the minors. To create space on the 40-man roster, and on the final domino move of the day, righty Drew Rucinski was transferred to the 60-day injured list a few weeks after he initially hit the IL due to a stomach illness.

Rios, who will turn 30 next week, signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves in the offseason but was acquired by the Athletics in exchange for cash considerations earlier this month.

According to some reports, the contract of the former Braves pitcher included a provision that required Atlanta to add him to their roster or allow other teams in the league to do so. Therefore, it was expected that Rios would be selected after getting moved to the A's. Otherwise, the trade would have made no sense with the provision moving from one franchise to the other and the Athletics at risk of losing him for nothing.

Rios has appeared in 89 major league games between 2017 and 2021, currently boasting an ERA of 5.77 during that time. He last played for the Boston Red Sox of the American League. However, he had to settle for minor league deals in the past two off-seasons.

In 2022, Rios joined the Chicago White Sox but did not receive a call-up, pitching 33 innings with a 4.91 ERA in Triple-A. This year, he has improved his numbers posting a 2.49 ERA in 25.1 innings with a K% of 30.3 percent and BB% 8.1 percent.

The Athletics' bullpen still has the worst ERA of the season across the MLB, sitting at a putrid 5.58. Rios will be given an opportunity to provide some relief for the team, but don't expect any fireworks.

Rios is already out of minor-league options, but if he remains on the roster for the entire year he would have accrued enough service time to qualify for arbitration later this year and into the winter, potentially securing his spot in Oakland or elsewhere in the majors for future seasons.

Drew Rucinski, the final piece of this lesser-player puzzle, was placed on the injured list a month ago due to a stomach illness. Subsequently, he was diagnosed with a low-grade MCL sprain in his right knee, and he's now navigating a "two-week shutdown period" according to manager Mark Kotsay.

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Rucinski's transfer to the 60-day IL can be seen as a simple and reasonable procedure that will keep him out of commission and unavailable until mid-July, as the addition there is retroactive to his initial removal from the roster.