The Oakland A’s announced some expected roster moves on Friday, ahead of the deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft. They added five players to their 40-man roster (number in parentheses is their rank on MLB Pipeline’s A’s prospect list):
- Franklin Barreto, SS (1)
- Yairo Munoz, SS (7)
- Paul Blackburn, RHP (19)
- Jaycob Brugman, OF (22)
- Bobby Wahl, RHP (—)
They only had four spots available, so in order to make all these moves they also had to remove someone. That turned out to be newly acquired RHP Josh Smith, just a couple weeks after being picked up off waivers from the Reds. Smith was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville, so for now he’s in the organization but not on the 40-man roster.
These moves are pretty close to what we discussed earlier this week. Barreto and Brugman were no-brainers, as Barreto is one of the best prospects in baseball and Brugman is an MLB-ready outfielder on a team with holes in CF and RF. Wahl got the nod over a collection of quality relief prospects. Smith was on my list of potential cuts if more room was needed.
The variations from my plan came in the form of Blackburn and Munoz, but neither are terribly surprising. I was on the fence about adding Blackburn, who hasn’t yet reached Triple-A, and apparently he’s close enough to the bigs to be worth protecting.
As for Munoz, his inclusion is probably more a matter of playing it safe with your biggest talents, even if they’re still a couple years away. The A’s did the same with Raul Alcantara and Renato Nunez when they were still in the low minors, much less Double-A (and the Arizona Fall League) like Munoz. I left him off my protection list in my post on Wednesday, but with the acknowledgement that I was likely to be wrong on the subject, so it turns out I was ... right about being wrong?
Now that these five players are on the 40-man roster, they will burn an option year in 2017 if they don’t make the big league club in April. For Barreto, Brugman, and Wahl, that might not matter, since they have good chances of reaching Oakland as soon as this summer. For Blackburn and especially Munoz, though, the clock is now ticking to get them to the majors in the next few years before they run out of options.
The biggest shock from this news is the guy who wasn’t included. RHP Tucker Healy will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 8, despite the fact that he put up the following line in Triple-A last year: 3.61 ERA, 52⅓ ip, 76 Ks, 26 BB, 3 HR, 38 hits. That’s a rate of 13.1 K/9, and while that doesn’t guarantee MLB success, it’s certainly a good omen. It’s Healy’s second straight good year in the upper minors, and at age 27 next season he’s probably ready for a shot in a big league bullpen. Hopefully some other team doesn’t give it to him this winter, because the A’s always seem to need some quality reliever depth.
Here’s Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse with a couple parting thoughts:
@oakclubhouse Tucker Healy and Sam Bragg will certainly be names to watch come Rule 5 time. Dylan Covey could spark some interest too.— Melissa Lockard (@oakclubhouse) November 18, 2016
I may be president of the Tucker Healy fan club, but he's big-league ready. Sorry to see him left off the 40-man list.— Melissa Lockard (@oakclubhouse) November 18, 2016
The Rule 5 draft takes place on Dec. 8, the last day of the Winter Meetings. Many of these players (Barreto, Munoz, Covey, Bragg) could be playing on Saturday in the Arizona Fall League championship game between Mesa and Surprise.