At many points this off-season, I advocated keeping Daric William Barton ( .277 OPS in 2014) as the 25th man. This was not because he was the 25th best player on the A's but because he had other things going for him. I thought (60/40) he would be picked up off waivers after a very good September 2013. I also thought Barton fit the roster better. And I also thought keeping Barton to start the year was more important over the whole season than having Steven Guy Vogt start the year in Oakland.
With Barton's defense ( #1 in MLB at 1B UZR/150 in 2010-2013) ( Link )
Since that point of time, with his horrendous start, William Joshua Reddick ( .294 OPS in 2014) has also entered the equation as another seemingly reasonable choice to be sent down at some point (sooner or later) since he still has "options". And yes small sample sizes of two weeks can matter. Bad years start with bad months start with bad weeks. Players with targets already on their backs do not do themselves any favors with slow starts. They are like a wounded animal with an arrow stuck and bleeding through their leg.
IF the A's decide to send someone down sooner or later because of poor performance in the next few weeks, and the A's have several poor performing players to choose from to send down, I want to know the best choice at this point of the season. To help decide, I'm going to explain normal options and also optional waivers. Looking at some of the more obscure option rules will help narrow down the best choice.
First; normal options:
- If a player is removed from the 25 man roster and sent down to the minors, they are considered to be "optioned" to the minors. They are removed from the 25-man roster, but will remain on the 40-man roster as a result of this move. Each player has a limited number of options (3) that can be used for them. If the team has used up all of that players' options, the player will have to clear waivers prior to being sent to the minors. Note: It not 3 options but 3 option years. A player can be sent down and called up in the same season multiple times, it is still only one option used.
- Optional major-league waivers are required when optioning a player who is more than three calendar years removed from his first appearance on a major-league roster.
- This procedure allows a club to send a player to the minor leagues while keeping him on the 40-man roster. Because optional waivers are revocable, players usually clear in this scenario. In the unlikely event a player is claimed, his club may not option him to the minor leagues, and any subsequent waiver request during the "same period" becomes irrevocable.
- The player cannot be placed on Optional Assignment Waivers again "for at least 30 days from the date the waiver request is withdrawn", and if a player is placed on Optional Assignment Waivers a second time "in the same waiver period* ", the waivers become irrevocable and the request cannot be withdrawn.
What this means is a smart front office, especially in the same division, should claim any A's player with optional waivers, forcing the A's to pull him back or lose him. Why allow your division rival to do whats best for themselves? And if the other (claiming) A.L. West team gets lucky, ( say if the A's decide to promote Micheal Taylor long term, or if a different injury takes precedence or if the A's make a trade for a better player) the A.L. West team now actually gets Josh Reddick to boot. It's a c
&% block followed up by a &^$k thank you.
Now that we have looked at both sets of waiver rules, lets see how that applies to A's players.
Josh Reddick. Option available.
Debut: July 31, 2009. 3-year mark (July 31, 2012)
Optional Waivers Needed
- Josh Reddick will most certainly be claimed. Because of this, the A's will most likely not waste everyone's time with trying to optionally waive him, then pulling him back. If he loses favor, Craig Alan Gentry may become more of a third OF than a fourth.
Eric Sogard. Option available.
Debut: September 14, 2010. (Sept 14, 2013)
Optional Waivers Needed
- Sogard is in the same boat as Reddick. He's good enough for other teams in the West to not let the A's get away with trying to optional waiver him.
Optional Waivers will be needed after April 26th.
- If Scribner gets recalled to the A's, and the A's then send him down again, he will have to pass through optional waivers. The A's may (much more likely than Reddick and Sogard) attempt to slip Scribner through optional waivers, but if he is claimed, they probably try and work out a trade or just lose him.
- ( It is also possible but not likely Scribner may have to pass through optional waivers in AAA on his three year anniversary date). From my research he does not, but I'm not 100 percent on that rule.)
Where does all this leave the A's? I do not advocate sending anyone down just yet, but if the A's did decide that they want a change based on poor performance, Reddick and Sogard; even though they have options, really do not.
The A's can try to option Reddick/Sogard with seemingly little consequence as optional waivers are revocable (once), but other teams in the West (Texas especially) probably would (and absolutely should) block the A's from doing this, and Texas could also time it right to steal optional waiver players away a smaller percentage of the time. Having as deep a roster as the A's have means other teams should absolutely be taking shots at the A's 26th best player. And the 27th. All year long.
All else being equal ( which they are not) Barton is the best choice, at this point in time, to try and send down for the DFA sneak and keep. His 2014 start has been bad enough, and he costs twice as much as a normal D.F.A. player off the scrapheap. Even with SSS of just a few weeks, the A's could have a good chance of slipping him through waivers for the 23rd time.
Now that Barton has gone from say ( 60/40 would be claimed) to say (40/60 he would not get claimed), I am now fine with the A's trying to slip him through and bring someone else up with his continued extreme struggles the next week or two.
If he makes it through, he is still all those original good things mentioned, sitting in AAA, waiting for a hot streak to help the A's. Remember though, Barton would be claimed on normal waiver rules, and those are not revocable.
Who do you replace Barton with in SAC? The most likely candidates :
Mike D. Taylor
.226/.415/.581...walks and power. The A's feel he is not a good platoon player. But if they want more offense in the outfield, or (DH I guess) they could go this route.
Nathan Samuel Freiman
.900 OPS vs LHP
Even if Freiman is a better platoon choice on offense at 1B, I felt from day one, Nate Freiman should play every day at 1B in AAA to develop his defense and develop his hitting vs RHP. I would rather have Moss play every day or have Callaspo cover 1B than deviate from that plan for at least a few more months and probably longer.
Last played 4-08-14
He is not a viable option at this time. With the Vogt injury, keeping Barton rather than Vogt to start the year has already worked out for the A's as far as depth is concerned. The A's got a free dice roll that Barton would start off hot. Enough free rolls and they will hit on a few.
An another Vogt note, the A's may not be able to take advantage of Vogt options next year, as he will then be an optional waiver player.
OF/1B Shane Aaron Peterson (.874 OPS, 130wRC+), in perhaps his swan song year for Oakland, and OF Jacob Dwayne Goebbert, (180wRC+) would be candidates later in the season (assuming Samual Babson Fuld is claimed the next few days, which I do).
Well Athletics Nation. Who do you want to D.F.A.? Who would you call up? Did something I say change your mind?
Decent Exposure. Is Barton the second most important non-starter on the A's by Total Probable Exposure Prevented? speedchaser9 makes a great case. But if Barton is such a player, the easiest way to improve the A's could be to replace Barton not by a player from AAA, but with a (relatively minor) trade getting someone that fits the A's even better than him.