The Oakland A’s traded outfielder Jaycob Brugman to the Orioles, the team announced Wednesday. Brugman had been designated for assignment on Monday. Oakland will receive a player to be named later or cash.
Brugman made his MLB debut this year and wound up playing 48 games for the A’s, before a demotion and subsequent injury ended his season early. He managed a 90 wRC+ for Oakland mostly on a strong walk rate, but was stretched defensively as an everyday CF. The 25-year-old has since returned to health, and he got into a few games in the Arizona Fall League in November.
Brugman, MLB (162 PAs): .266/.346/.406, 90 wRC+, 3 HR, 11.1% BB, 23.5% Ks
Unfortunately for Brugman, recent acquisitions crowded him out of the depth chart and ultimately off the roster entirely. Fellow lefty outfielders Dustin Fowler and Boog Powell joined the picture in midseason trades, and now righty Ramon Laureano is in the mix as well. All three are more highly touted than Brugman, and there are more lefty swingers in the upper minors including B.J. Boyd and Tyler Ramirez. There simply wasn’t room to keep everyone, especially when roster space was needed for Rule 5 draft protections.
Welp guess I'm an Orioles fan now.— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) November 22, 2017
I understand the logic here. The A’s have better bets now in Fowler and Boog, who both profile as better hitters and better CF defenders, and are both lefties. Brugman does a little bit of everything but has the type of tweener skill set that makes it tough to project where he fits in the bigs — not quite as much power as you want in the corners, not quite enough speed to play CF regularly.
But this was my guy, and I wanted to see him succeed on my team. I love the underdog story, the 17th-round pick without standout tools clawing his way up to the Show. I still think he can be a glue-guy role player, using his versatile toolbelt, heads-up play, and positive attitude to fill in the gaps and help a team win games. He was also a part of the young core that rose up the minors together, along with Matt Olson and Chad Pinder, and I was hoping to keep as much of that group as possible*.
* Ryon Healy is also gone, and Bruce Maxwell’s status is complicated. Renato Nunez is still in the picture.
So, on one hand I get why this happened and can’t objectively disagree with it, but on the other hand I’m bummed and wish it could have gone differently. I will console myself by acknowledging the silver lining, that he was probably fully blocked in Oakland but might have a chance to spread his wings with the Orioles. (Currently appears to be in competition with Joey Rickard as the fourth outfielder.)
I had the pleasure of meeting Bruggy’s family at a game this year, and it’s easy to see where he gets his reputation as a high-character guy. They were in town to watch him on a day when I happened to be in attendance as well, and one member invited me over to say hi. I was blown away to learn that his folks had read my articles, going so far as to thank me for my support over the years. Here at Athletics Nation we do most of our coverage from the outside, as opposed to the insider work done by the team’s daily beat writers, but occasionally we’ll dip in a toe and that was one experience I’ll always remember fondly.
Thanksgiving isn’t until tomorrow, but today I’m thankful that I got to see my favorite sleeper prospect make it all the way to Oakland and put on an A’s jersey. It was a brief tenure, but nothing green and gold can stay.
Best of luck to Bruggy in Baltimore, and anywhere else his career may take him!