The Oakland A’s officially announced the signing of free agent RHP Santiago Casilla on Friday, and to make room on the 40-man roster they designated OF Brett Eibner for assignment, reports Jane Lee of MLB.com.
Eibner was acquired by the A’s at the end of July, from the Royals in exchange for Billy Burns in a deal of two fringe players getting a change in scenery. He made his MLB debut in May for Kansas City, but in 44 games for Oakland he was absolutely awful -- he didn’t hit at all, and his well-regarded defense never appeared at any outfield position.
Eibner, 2016 A’s: 123 PAs, .165/.252/.303, 53 wRC+, 3 HR, 10.6% BB, 22.0% Ks, -0.5 WAR*
* average of -0.7 bWAR and -0.3 fWAR ... yes, those are negative numbers
There was initially a hope that Eibner could be part of the CF solution, but nothing about his play in 2016 was encouraging and clearly the A’s are moving on with other plans in center. Rajai Davis is the stopgap starter now after signing in free agency, with other backups on the 40-man roster including platoon righty Jake Smolinski and Triple-A prospect Jaycob Brugman. The A’s also have minor league free agent Jaff Decker, who isn’t on the 40-man at this time but will be playing at spring training, and on Friday they signed Alejandro De Aza to a minor league deal.
Meanwhile, as a right-handed batter, Eibner had become particularly redundant with the presence of Smolinski in an almost identical backup/platoon role, as well as the signings of righties Rajai and Trevor Plouffe.
Of course, this move does not guarantee that the 28-year-old Eibner is gone from the organization, though it could be a couple weeks before we learn his fate. There are several possible results, but most likely he’ll end up going through waivers. If he makes it through without any other teams claiming him, as Rangel Ravelo and Max Muncy did this winter, then he could still wind up back at Triple-A Nashville this season. If so, then the A’s will have another OF depth option stashed in the minors. (My personal guess: probably lower than 50/50 that he gets claimed)
Eibner is the second player the A’s have DFA’d this week. On Wednesday, they cut RHP Zach Neal to make room for free agent 3B Plouffe. All told, they removed a pitcher and a hitter to make room for a pitcher and a hitter. Last week we discussed which players the A’s might drop to make room for Plouffe and Casilla, and, to toot my own horn for a moment, I nailed both guesses (Neal and Eibner). I expect that my prize is coming in the mail.
For more on the Casilla signing:
Jan. 11: A’s sign Casilla
Jan. 17: A’s now have 4 closers
For more on Eibner: