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Previewing Oakland A’s September call-ups

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Renato Nunez doing his mean face.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today is August 29, which means September is nearly upon us. On Friday, active rosters will expand, and for the rest of the season teams won’t be limited to just 25 players. They’ll be able to use anyone on their 40-man roster.

First off, here’s what the 25-man unit looks like right now.

Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Sean Manaea (L)
Kendall Graveman (R)
Jharel Cotton (R)
Daniel Gossett (R)
Chris Smith (R)

Relievers

Blake Treinen (R)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Ryan Dull (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Daniel Coulombe (L)
Simon Castro (R)
Michael Brady (R)
Catchers

Bruce Maxwell (L)
Dustin Garneau (R)

Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Ryon Healy (R)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
Boog Powell (L)
Chad Pinder (R)
Mark Canha (R)

10-day DL: RHP Paul Blackburn, C Josh Phegley

60-day DL: RHP Andrew Triggs, RHP Bobby Wahl, OF Dustin Fowler, OF Jake Smolinski

As for the players on the DL, the 10-day guys are taking spots on the 40-man roster, but the 60-day guys are not.

The 40-man roster has one open spot at the moment, which is most likely earmarked for the imminent activation of Smolinski. Of the 14 members not currently in Oakland, five of them are out with injuries (either on Oakland’s or Nashville’s DL). Here’s the rest of the 40-man (names in italics are on DL):

Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Daniel Mengden (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Jesse Hahn (R)
Frankie Montas (R)


Relievers

Chris Bassitt (R)
Sam Moll (L)
Josh Smith (R)
Catchers

Josh Phegley (R)

Infielders

Renato Nunez (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Joey Wendle (L)
Yairo Munoz (R)
Jorge Mateo (R)

Outfielders

Jaycob Brugman (L)
(Jake Smolinski) (R)

And who else is hiding just below the 40-man? Three names of interest that stick out:

  • RHP Raul Alcantara (finally a reliever, maybe he can be good now?)
  • RHP Lou Trivino (holding his own in AAA bullpen)
  • OF B.J. Boyd (I would like to protect him from Rule 5 anyway this winter)

There are also a couple more mop-up arms available in RHP Zach Neal and LHP Felix Doubront.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We can get into Rule 5 and all that after the season. Let’s stick to September for now.

Who we can expect

We don’t need to do a lot of guessing here. Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle already laid this out on Saturday. The A’s open a series in Seattle on Friday (Sept 1), and on that trip they’ll activate Josh Phegley from the DL and bring up new acquisition Sam Moll as a second lefty in the pen. Here’s more on Moll, who’s been scoreless in five outings for the Sounds.

Phegley, AAA rehab: 8-for-25, HR, 2 BB, 4 Ks, sac fly
Moll, 2017 AAA: 3.67 ERA, 54 ip, 47 Ks, 19 BB, 4 HR, 4.17 FIP

The last day of Triple-A Nashville’s season is Sept 4, which is the same day the A’s return home. At that point, Slusser says we’ll see slugger Renato Nunez and middle infielder Franklin Barreto. Nunez is tied for the lead in all of Triple-A with 32 homers, and the red-hot Barreto was just named to the latest MLB Pipeline Team of the Week. Both have already made their MLB debuts in previous stints in Oakland.

Nunez, 2017 AAA: .254/.314/.529, 109 wRC+, 32 HR, 7.5% BB, 27.1% Ks
Barreto, 2017 AAA: .285/.330/.454, 100 wRC+, 15 HR, 14 SB, 4.6% BB, 28.0% Ks

Nunez will be out of minor league options next year, so Oakland is running out of chances to see what he can do in the bigs. It will be interesting to see how much playing time this pair gets, and at whose expense. Give some of Healy’s at-bats to Nunez? Some of Lowrie’s to Barreto? We’ll find out!

Anyone else?

While Slusser singles out those four names, she also teases that the list might not stop there. Let’s run through the other possibilities. This section is entirely my own speculation except when otherwise noted.

Likely

Slusser suggests that Jake Smolinski will come up at some point when he’s back to full strength after his rehab. I think we’ll see Josh Smith come up as bullpen mop-up insurance.

Solid chance

The middle infield ranks are already quite full, but at this point if you don’t bring up the 27-year-old Joey Wendle in September then you may as well just DFA him now. Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden have both spent a while tuning back up in the minors after long-term injuries, so perhaps it’s time for one or both to finally get tested against MLB hitters.

Doubt it

Yairo Munoz is still figuring out Triple-A and there are eleventy players blocking him at his positions. Let’s not rush him for once in his career, even though he’s been hot for the last week or so. Jorge Mateo is still in Double-A.

Disabled list

We already covered Phegley and Smolinski. Slusser reports that Paul Blackburn will “miss several starts at a minimum” despite no fracture. I’m unsure of the status of Jaycob Brugman, Jesse Hahn and Frankie Montas (oblique for the latter), but the two pitchers have both had rough seasons and I’m not in a hurry to see them again this year.

* * *

Where does all that leave us? The insider reporting says we’re looking at a minimum of four new players over the next week, and reasonable guessing suggests the number could easily be at least six. There are already so many promising names to watch on this increasingly interesting A’s team, and we’re about to add another bunch.