The Oakland A's have traded relief pitcher Arnold Leon to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations. The right-hander had previously been designated for assignment to make room for the addition of Henderson Alvarez.
Leon was once a promising starting pitching prospect in Oakland's system, and he even reached No. 11 on our pre-2010 Community Prospect List. However, Tommy John surgery cost him most of 2010 and 2011, and he eventually switched to the bullpen in 2015. He finally made his MLB debut on April 22, though he had previously spent one day on the active roster in 2014 without playing.
Pitching at age 26 last season, Leon spent six separate stints in Oakland and appeared in 19 games. His overall season numbers, which are also his career numbers for now:
Leon, 2015: 4.39 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 26⅔ innings, 19 Ks, 9 BB, 3 HR, 0.1 bWAR
One way or other, Leon was always a long-shot for the 2016 team. He's out of minor league options, which means he can't be sent down to Triple-A without first passing through waivers. Oakland's bullpen is already quite full after their offseason revamp, so he was always likely to be squeezed out before April -- his numbers weren't terrible, but they also weren't close to good enough to receive a guaranteed roster spot.
On the bright side, though, Leon was recognized by FanGraphs in November for having one of the best changeups of any MLB reliever. So, he's got that going for him. He also has this picture, from rookie dress-up day last year:
#Athletics RHP Arnold Leon, complete with burro. pic.twitter.com/07MZcOCECI— John Hickey (@JHickey3) September 28, 2015
Finally, there is an extra twist to the fact that Leon is headed to Toronto of all places. In the 2013 World Baseball Classic, the Mexican native made the highlights by inciting this brawl between Canada and Mexico:
BOOM! SMACK! POW! WHAM! This is not your normal baseball "brawl," with players milling around talking. This is a hockey-style fight between two entire teams. I keep waiting for Brett Lawrie to roll out and start wrecking shop (he was on the team!), but alas he doesn't seem to make an appearance. Still, you've gotta love that the brawl was started by a pitcher with two action movie stars for names (first name is the Terminator, last name is the titular character from Luc Besson's classic film The Professional). One day I hope to see Arnold Leon face a batter named Sylvester Van Damme.
Alright, we got a bit off track there. The takeaway from this news is that Leon is gone, which probably doesn't matter one way or other. You didn't likely have him penciled into your Opening Day bullpen, and he wasn't on the 40-man roster anyway so this doesn't open up a new spot. It's just a loose end being tied up.
Good luck in Toronto, Arnold!
I want say Thankyou to the @Athletics for the opportunity! I enjoy the 2015 ride with them!— Arnold Leon (@LeonKing06) January 5, 2016