The Oakland A’s activated Chad Pinder from the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Monday. To make room on the roster, infield prospect Franklin Barreto was optioned back to Triple-A.
Pinder landed on the DL on April 7 with a hyper-extended knee. He incurred the injury when he slipped in the outfield while fielding a hit against the Rangers. It turned out to be a minimum DL stint.
The 26-year-old is serving in a super-sub role this season. He’s played exclusively in the outfield so far, and has been arguably the team’s best outfield defender in the early going. However, he’s also the only spare infielder on the roster, meaning he could wind up at just about any position on any given day depending on the team’s needs. On the other side of the ball, his bat was off to a nice start in what may have been shaping up as a platoon role against mostly lefty pitchers.
Pinder, 2018: 4-for-13, HR, 2B, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 199 wRC+
In two rehab games for High-A Stockton, Pinder went 1-for-5 with a double on Saturday and 1-for-2 with a homer, walk, and HBP on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Barreto spent his time here watching seven A’s games from the bench. He had to come up to fill in for Pinder because there are no other viable MLB middle infielders on the 40-man roster, but in all those games Oakland only managed to find him one inning of defensive work as a late-game replacement (and no balls were hit to him in that inning). Barreto has only played one regular season game so far, going 2-for-4 with a homer and double on Triple-A Nashville’s Opening Day.
The noteworthy part about all of this is Barreto. He’s the club’s top healthy prospect and close to MLB-ready, but he could still use some more at-bats in Triple-A to put last year’s strikeout problems behind him. One way or other you’d like to see the 22-year-old play as much as possible right now, whether majors or minors, as he (hopefully) eyes his near-future role in the everyday lineup. Therefore, it was a bummer to see him sit around doing nothing for over a week.
However, I’m having a hard time getting worked up about this. Sure, they could have planned better by having an extra veteran infielder on the 40-man roster (like Steve Lombardozzi), but that’s not how things worked out. With a catcher and a CF on the DL already, and their other top CF plan not quite ready for the Show, their hand was forced in terms of roster flexibility (a fourth catcher, a bunch of spare outfield replacements, etc.). You can hindsight up a list of names that could have been DFA’d, but there would be a viable reason why every one of them remained. The fact is that the guy who got hurt (Pinder) happened to be the most versatile defender and the lynchpin to the whole three-man bench concept. Sometimes things just don’t go perfectly.
As it is, Barreto didn’t miss that much time sitting on the bench. If he’d sat around for a month or two, maybe that would have been different. But for all we know, a week on an MLB bench around experienced players and coaches could be valuable to a young prospect as well. It would have been nice to see him at least get an at-bat or two somewhere along the line, but this is one of those times that I’ll just keep calm and defer to the team’s judgment. Now Barreto can return to Triple-A and get back on the field. We probably won’t even remember this whole episode in six months.
Welcome back, Chad! See you again soon, Franklin!