The Milwaukee Brewers claimed left-handed starting pitcher Sean Nolin off waivers from the Oakland Athletics on Monday, the A's announced. Nolin had been designated for assignment after the A's and Brewers completed a trade sending Khris Davis to the A's for catcher Jacob Nottingham and pitcher Bubba Derby.
Arriving as one of the "near major league ready" pieces of the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays, losing Nolin on a waiver claim is a disappointing conclusion to his time with Oakland. He arrived having thrown a 91-92 MPH fastball on average with a max of 95-96, but lingering effects from sports hernia surgery had his fastball down to 86-88 when he appeared for Oakland at the end of last year.
"The guy we saw here throwing 86, that was not the guy we traded for," said A's general manager David Forst to us at Fanfest in January, "I don't think that's who Sean thinks he is. So, ultimately, until he gets out on the mound in spring training, you just don't know."
It will be the Brewers who will get to find out if Nolin gets that velocity back or otherwise reinvents himself as a pitcher. They'll have to carry Nolin on their 25-man roster at the end of spring if they don't want to waive him and expose him to anybody else who might be willing to carry Nolin on their 25-man, but a rebuilding team like Milwaukee tends to have room for players like Nolin.
Was there a better choice to try to waive or trade? None that does not have a bigger impact on the A's future plans. Sure the A's have been trying to trade Billy Butler, but he's as much a bounceback candidate as Nolin was. Other fringe members of the 40-man roster have their roles as depth players, but the A's have lots of starting pitchers right now.
After rehabilitating from his sports hernia surgery, he returned in May and made 10 appearances for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, only to go back on the minor league disabled list for a month with a left shoulder injury. He was called up during September roster expansions. With Triple-A Nashville, Nolin made 14 appearances striking out 38, walking 19, and allowing five home runs in 47 1/3 innings with a 2.66 ERA. In Oakland, Nolin made six starts, striking out 15, walking 12, and allowing four home runs in 29 innings with a 5.28 ERA.