The Oakland Athletics are exploring the waiver wire and released players as options to add depth to their outfield now that Coco Crisp is probably at least six weeks away from returning from his April 3 arthroscopic elbow surgery, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Slusser writes, "Oakland has some interest in former Stanford player Carlos Quentin and onetime Giants player Cody Ross."
What we do not know is whether Oakland's interest is for someone to go to the big league roster and supplant whichever of Billy Burns or Tyler Ladendorf remains after Josh Reddick returns, or whether the team is looking for someone to play in Nashville on a minor league deal, off of the 40-man roster.
On the 25-man roster, the A's have three players that only play in the outfield (Burns, Fuld, Gentry), three that will probably get significant playing time in the outfield (Zobrist, Canha, Ladendorf), and two that could go out there in a pinch (Vogt, Davis). Those last five are needed elsewhere on the diamond, of course.
Alex Hassan is the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster, and Jason Pridie was the only non-roster invitee outfielder. 28-year-old Kent Matthes and 29-year-old Matt Angle are the other outfielders listed on Nashville's roster, and 30-year-old Alden Carrithers has also been known to play left field from time to time.
The right-handed batting Quentin was designated for assignment immediately after the Atlanta Braves acquired his contract from the Padres as part of the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. to San Diego. Quentin is owed $8 million in 2015 that the Braves would be stuck with if he is released. His performances over the years have sort of a Daric Bartonesque feel to them: one 4.7 fWAR season in 2008 for the White Sox, then 5.5 total fWAR in the five seasons after that, including three below replacement seasons.
He is 32 years old, his defense is not very good, and it looks like he just plain forgot how to put a bat on a ball in 2014 with a career high 21.3% K rate and nearly career low .138 ISO. His 2014 slash line was .177/.284/.315 over 50 games, though he was dealing with knee issues throughout the year that eventually resulted in a season-ending trip to the disabled list at the end of July.
If you are looking for a career platoon advantage, you will not find it. He has hit lefties to a 120 wRC+ and righties to a 122 wRC+ during his career.
The Arizona Diamondbacks just released Cody Ross and will be paying him $8.5 million plus his $1 million buyout for 2016. The 34-year-old Ross had a horrid 2014 on both sides of the ball. He has always had a high strikeout rate, 20.1% in 2014, and his slash line of .252/.306/.322 shows his power went in the tank as well. His 2014 outfield Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 defensive games of -38.1 is off the scale bad, though he only had 404 innings to do it.
Considering Oakland's minors depth, Ross could still be a small improvement on a minor league deal. Very small.
Also recently released was former Athletic Ryan Sweeney, who is a comparatively youthful 30 years old. The Cubs are picking up $2 million, including a $500,000 2016 buyout. After two good initial campaigns with the Athletics, injuries to his knees and thighs mounted and Swingles never got back into regular playing time with neither the A's, Red Sox, nor the Cubs.
The Astros today sought outright waivers on the out-of-options Alex Presley, leaving his $1 million contract open to a claim, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
There are others available at or around replacement level. Dayan Viciedo technically knows where to stand in the outfield, Mike Carp elected free agency, et cetera, et cetera. From what we've seen from players and coaches comments though, it would seem Billy Burns and Tyler Ladendorf should retain their incumbent status as fourth or fifth outfielders for now.