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Oakland A’s spring training 2017: Alejandro De Aza released, outfield picture clarifies

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s released outfielder Alejandro De Aza on Monday, the team announced. De Aza had an opt-out clause in his contract and had decided to use it, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. He is now a free agent, but Slusser notes that the A’s could re-sign him if no other club shows interest.

De Aza had appeared to be a leading candidate for a bench role on the Opening Day squad, so this somewhat surprising move brings a bit of clarity to the situation. The A’s have four outfielders (Khris, Rajai, Joyce, Canha) and one more open roster spot, and it might be a good idea to use that vacancy on a fifth outfielder (preferably a lefty hitter) who can properly back up CF behind the 36-year-old Rajai. De Aza would have met all the requirements.

With De Aza out of the picture for now, though, there are two likely outcomes: either Jaff Decker will get that fifth outfield spot, or the A’s will roll with an eighth reliever instead. Decker checks all the same boxes as De Aza (lefty, can play CF, has a pulse) and the two have posted eerily identical batting lines this spring, but De Aza carries far more successful MLB experience while Decker is six years younger (33 to 27 this season). Meanwhile, Tim Eckert-Fong argues that carrying an eighth reliever is a dumb idea, and I agree — especially now that Raul Alcantara is in the rotation and doesn’t need to be shoehorned into the bullpen.

In other words, we still don’t know exactly how things will shake out, but where there were once three likely options (De Aza, Decker, 8th reliever) there are now only two.

Hot take: I don’t get it. Granted, we’re talking about a guy who was available as a minor league free agent this winter, but he seemed like a decent fit for now at an area of immediate need. He’s a veteran stopgap capable of being average on both sides of the ball, and as we saw last year you can do much worse than that. As Bob Melvin said, via Slusser’s article linked above:

He knew how to lead off, swung the bat well for us. ... For an organization that’s a little thin in outfielders, I think he did a pretty good job.

I mean, yeah, exactly. So why is he gone? We don’t know all the ins and outs of the situation, but you’d have to imagine a guaranteed roster spot would have kept him from opting out (NOTE: pure speculation). Considering the (lack of) other options, if that was the case then I would have given him that bench spot hands down. Sure, Decker is intriguing too, but why not keep both? Injuries do happen, after all.

This is a minor move regarding the 25th spot on the team, so the stakes are low. But I would have kept the extra depth, and in the role of reliable backup CF I would have given the first nod to the guy with an actual MLB track record.

On the bright side, losing De Aza means that Jaycob Brugman is one step closer to the top of the depth chart.

* * *

The team began spring training with 70 players in MLB camp but they’re now down to 36, though that doesn’t necessarily mean much for game purposes because extras are often borrowed from minor league camp. For example, on Sunday against Brewers the A’s starter at 2B was Max Schrock, a Double-A prospect who is “assigned to [the] Oakland Athletics” according to the team’s transaction logs (along with a couple dozen other prospects) but doesn’t count toward that total of 36.

And remember, four of the 36 remaining players are out of the picture due to long-term injury, so really there are only 7 cuts left to be made in order to take this group down to a 25-man unit for April.

Also see: 1st round of cuts | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | 5th | 6th

Here’s the full spring training squad. Players in italics are non-roster invitees. Players in strikethrough have been reassigned to minor league camp. Players with **asterisks will miss the start of the season to injury. (Note that some of the injured players could wind up on the 60-day DL, which would make room to add replacements to the 40-man roster.)

Pitchers Hitters

**Sonny Gray (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
Kendall Graveman (R)
Andrew Triggs (R)
Jharel Cotton (R)
**Daniel Mengden (R)
Raul Alcantara (R)
Jesse Hahn (R)
**Chris Bassitt (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Ross Detwiler (L)
**Felix Doubront (L)
Daniel Gossett (R)
Heath Fillmyer (R)
A.J. Puk (L)


Ryan Madson (R)
Sean Doolittle (L)
Ryan Dull (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
John Axford (R)
Daniel Coulombe (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Bobby Wahl (R)
Michael Brady (R)
Simon Castro (R)
Tucker Healy (R)
Aaron Kurcz (R)
Zach Neal (R)
Chris Smith (R)
Josh Smith (R)
Tyler Sturdevant (R)
Cesar Valdez (R)
Trey Cochran-Gill (R)

Stephen Vogt (L)
Josh Phegley (R)
Bruce Maxwell (L)
Ryan Lavarnway (R)
Matt McBride (R)
Sean Murphy (R)


Ryon Healy (R)
Trevor Plouffe (R)
Yonder Alonso (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Renato Nunez (R)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Adam Rosales (R)
Joey Wendle (L)
Chad Pinder (R)
Marcus Semien (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Yairo Munoz (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Jermaine Curtis (R)
Max Muncy (L)
Rangel Ravelo (R)
Josh Rodriguez (R)
Richie Martin (R)
Max Schrock (L)


Khris Davis (R)
Rajai Davis (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
**Jake Smolinski (R)
Jaycob Brugman (L)
Alejandro De Aza (L)
Jaff Decker (L)
Andrew Lambo (L)
Chris Parmelee (L)
Kenny Wilson (R)