clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Leash Watch 2017: Four players in danger of losing their jobs

New, comments

Who needs to find their groove in order to stick?

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Early season performances don’t always indicate a lot, and it takes a large sample to really know how a player is performing. Yet with a tight roster and ample reinforcements awaiting their turn, the A’s have some decisions to make. Here are the players in most danger of losing their spot should they not turn their performances around.

Mark Canha, 1B, RF, “CF”

Being on the short side of a platoon can’t be easy. Nor can coming back after missing basically an entire season due to injury. It’s also pretty difficult when you’re in what’s effectively your second year as a big leaguer.

Safe to say, the deck is a little bit stacked against Mark Canha. With irregular at bats, he’s expected to mash lefties in order to overcome his defensive shortcomings to provide value. That’s a hard task for anyone, and the undoubtedly rusty Canha is struggling to readjust.

The phrase defense doesn’t slump is probably a little overstated, but it’s certainly more stable than offense. A better defender is a better bet to provide value, and Canha could definitely benefit from regular playing time to re-discover his timing and stroke. Swapping Canha out for Jaff Decker would give the A’s better defense as well as the opportunity for Canha to rediscover his stroke in an easier environment with more regular playing time at AAA.

It’s not a perfect trade, Decker hits left handed and wouldn’t be the perfect platoon partner for Matt Joyce. With Decker’s opt-out looming as the month wears on, it’s in the A’s best interest to get him to the big league level, and the struggling Canha might be the man to lose his job when it happens.

Trevor Plouffe, 3B

It’s been a brutal first week for Plouffe. He’s struggled mightily on both sides of the ball, making physical and mental errors on defense and hitting just about nothing on offense. Like Canha, Plouffe deserves a decent runway after missing a good portion of 2016. His early season suck could easily be rust, something Khris Davis taught us all about in 2016.

Plouffe’s leash is ultimately determined by Matt Chapman, third baseman of the future (we all hope). Signed to a one year deal, Plouffe is ultimately a placeholder, hoping to reestablish himself as a legitimate big leaguer for a team seeking cheap value.

Chapman, I hate to break to you, is not banging down the door. He did bang his wrist, spraining it in spite of swinging and missing at ridiculous early season rates. The small sample difficulty isn’t nearly the concern the wrist is, but either way, Chapman isn’t all that close.

There are other options to supplant Plouffe if his struggles continue, especially for a team as defense averse as the A’s. Franklin Barreto is crushing AAA pitching already and an early season callup combined with some creative defensive permutations could put Plouffe out of a job. Healy could move back to third full time, Chad Pinder could force his way through, so on and so forth.

Ultimately, Plouffe’s leash is probably fairly long unless he remains a weak link on a competitive team as the season wears on. In spite of his brutal first week, there’s still some upside there.

Rajai Davis, CF

Unlike the players above, there’s little chance Davis loses his roster spot outright. However, his role could shift significantly if he doesn’t start doing something against righties. Those results should come as no surprise, as Davis has always struggled against like handed pitchers throughout his career.

His continued struggles are unlikely to cost him roster spot, but they could expedite the seemingly inevitable arrival of Jaff Decker. Decker deserves a spot on this roster regardless of Davis’s performance, but the size of his role will depend on if Davis can improve. Should Davis continue to be borderline useless against righties, Decker could steal the starting gig. The more it happens, the sooner Decker will arrive, and that’ll require a corresponding roster move.

Daniel Coulombe

John Axford’s return is imminent, and someone will lose his spot when Axford rejoins the A’s. The man who replaced him, Jesse Hahn, is now a part of the rotation and isn’t expendable like he was before. Raul Alcantara, the man who lost his spot to Hahn, is still shoehorned on the team due to a lack of options. It’d be silly to give up on him so quickly after making the decision to keep him, even if there’s a good chance he never provides value.

That leaves Daniel Coulombe. It seems that every year, someone gets the unenviable task of shuttling between AAA and the bigs, and Coulombe might be this years version. He hasn’t been great in his early season trials, though they haven’t exactly been conducive to success - he’s faced almost exclusively righties in mop up duty.

If Coulombe is indeed the man to leave when Axford returns, the A’s will be without a true LOOGY. That’s...something, especially when you’re carrying 13 pitchers.