The Oakland A’s optioned Mark Canha to Triple-A Nashville on Friday, the team announced. The outfielder was sent down to make room for the official promotion of prospect Jaycob Brugman, whose callup was already expected.
This will be Canha’s second stint in the minors this year. The 28-year-old made the A’s Opening Day roster but was visibly rusty to start the season. He went down to Nashville and quickly rediscovered his stroke, and upon his return to the bigs he shredded the ball for over a week: 11-for-25, 3 HR (7 XBH), 4 Ks, 1.481 OPS. It looked like he might finally be ready for the breakout we’d been waiting for.
Unfortunately, the hot streak didn’t last. After clubbing homers in back-to-back games against the Red Sox, here’s what he’s done in a few weeks since (15 games):
Canha, since May 21: 4-for-45, 3 doubles, 2 BB, 23 Ks, .283 OPS
NO DON’T LOOK THOSE NUMBERS DIRECTLY IN THE EYE. Here’s an English translation: He struck out in half his plate appearances, and his OPS looked like a decent batting average. At least when he managed an occasional hit, it went for extra bases? To make matters worse, Canha is a bat-first player with below-average defense in the outfield, so when he’s not hitting he has nothing to offer.
For more on Brugman, check out our report on him from Thursday.
Hot takes: Let’s begin with Canha. I’m a big supporter of his, but I will concede that this is the right move. A 50% K-rate is unacceptable even in that small of a sample size, and for what it’s worth a trip to the minors seemed to get him back on track last time. Even if you believe, like I do, that the eight-man bullpen is a terrible idea and needs to be reduced back to seven, then I’d still have suggested sending down Canha and a reliever for two new hitters.
As for his future? I still hope he’ll get more opportunities here to find that elusive breakout, but again I will concede that it gets less likely with each passing month. The competition for at-bats is only going to intensify, with a stream of prospects ready for their own auditions, and those players will all be younger, healthier, and have higher ceilings. Fitting in Canha will be increasingly difficult and the motivation to do so will wane rapidly.
None of that is to say that this is the last we’ll ever see of Canha, but the odds of him panning out into a regular contributor in Oakland have taken a massive step back.
OK, on to the happier news. The question regarding Brugman’s callup was whether he’d get a real opportunity to play, or just sit on the bench for a couple days and then go back to Nashville. The demotion of Canha makes me think the answer is the former, because it means Brugman is taking the tangible role of platoon/fourth outfielder rather than just abstractly filling a stray roster spot in between pitcher DL stints.
Now the next question: As a platoon/fourth outfielder, which of those will best describe Brugman — platoon, or fourth? Will he truly platoon with Rajai Davis in CF, which would make the most sense since Bruggy bats lefty and Rajai can’t hit? Or will he sit around and pinch-hit and get one start per week, with the rationale that he’s inexperienced but no plan to get him that experience? (See if you can guess which path I favor.)
I’m bummed to see Canha go out again, but if this means Bruggy will get a legitimate chance to play regularly then I’ll see it as good news overall. Please let Bruggy play.
Next man up: The A’s will play a doubleheader on Saturday, and Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle reports that LHP Sean Doolittle will come off the DL to be the 26th man for that scheduled double-day. The A’s will then have to send down a player on Sunday — they’ll have nine relievers at that point, so it’ll almost certainly be one of them.