The Oakland A’s announced several roster moves on Wednesday. They placed slugger Khris Davis on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Monday, and to replace him they called up infielder Franklin Barreto from Triple-A Nashville. Furthermore, they called up starting pitcher Daniel Gossett, and to make room they designated pitcher Wilmer Font for assignment. Gossett will start against the Mariners in the evening’s game.
The diagnosis for Khrush is a right groin strain. It’s a Grade 1 strain, reports Ben Ross of NBCS. He suffered the injury in Sunday’s game in Toronto, during an at-bat in the 4th inning. He felt a “stabbing pain” on a check swing, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, and later in the at-bat he hit a ground ball and struggled to run it out.
A look at Khris Davis' apparent leg injury in the 4th inning pic.twitter.com/TKm00S1y2o— Alex Espinoza IV (@AlexEspinozaIV) May 20, 2018
This is Khrush’s first time on the DL since joining the A’s in 2016. He last hit the shelf in 2015 with the Brewers, due to a torn meniscus in his knee. According to Steve Kroner of the S.F. Chronicle, “Grade 1 strains typically require 10 days to three weeks to heal.”
The A’s recently finished an amazing 10-game road trip in which they went 7-3, scored 60 runs, and launched 19 homers. Khrush was a big part of that attack, chipping in four of those dingers himself on top of a .308 average and .998 OPS on the trip. He’s a central part of Oakland’s lineup, and his 13 long balls are the most on the club and rank ninth in MLB. For what it’s worth, his 38 RBI place him third in MLB.
Khrush, 2018: .235/.307/.497, 118 wRC+, 13 HR, 7.3% BB, 25.9% Ks
His replacement on the roster is Barreto, the team’s top position player prospect and a consensus Top 100 national prospect. He spent a couple weeks on Oakland’s bench in April while covering for another Oakland injury, but didn’t make any starts or even get a plate appearance. Otherwise he’s been in Triple-A this year, where he showed improved on-base skills but still struck out too much.
The 22-year-old is considered the 2B of the future, behind incumbent Jed Lowrie, but we’ll see how they use him in this latest MLB stint. He’s in Oakland’s starting lineup on Wednesday (tonight) playing 2B, with Lowrie shifting to DH.
Barreto, 2018 AAA: .235/.352/.445, 109 wRC+, 6 HR, 13.4% BB, 29.6% Ks
As for the pitching staff, the starting rotation is down two arms after Andrew Triggs and Brett Anderson both hit the DL last weekend. Gossett is officially the first replacement, and he will start on Wednesday (tonight). He was on the Opening Day roster but got torched in his first two MLB starts, leading to a demotion back to the minors. However, he’s been borderline dominant back in Triple-A, earning him another look with the big club.
Gossett MLB: 11.05 ERA, 7⅓ ip, 3 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 5.70 FIP
Gossett, AAA: 1.63 ERA, 38⅔ ip, 42 Ks, 16 BB, 1 HR, 3.38 FIP
To make room on the roster, Font was the odd man out. The A’s took a flyer on him in late-April as a potential fixer-upper, even trading a low-level prospect to give him a tryout. However, he was abjectly terrible every single time he took the mound, allowing runs in all four appearances and dingers in three of them. Whether because they lost faith in unlocking his talent, or simply ran out of room to stash him unused in the bullpen, he was finally DFA’d.
Font, 2018 OAK: 14.85 ERA, 6⅔ ip, 9 Ks, 4 BB, 5 HR, 11.96 FIP
Font, 2018 MLB: 12.71 ERA, 17 ip, 16 Ks, 5 BB, 10 HR, 9.76 FIP
We’ll find out in the next week or so whether another team claims him, or if he’ll get a chance to return to Triple-A and continue his development. If he does manage to stay in the organization, he could be a useful sleeper to stash in the minors to see if he can ever put it all together. He was spectacular as a starter in Triple-A last season.
Sometime between Thursday and Saturday, the A’s will need to make another move to add a fifth starter. Kendall Graveman is the obvious front-runner for that job, but no official announcement has been made. UPDATE: Never mind, they’re going with a bullpen day on Thursday. Reliever Josh Lucas will make the “start,” reports insider Jane Lee. What happens after that is anyone’s guess, with all kinds of possible moving parts.
Ouch! Nothing sobers you up after a hot streak like an injury to a key payer. Khrush’s absence for any amount of time is a blow to the green and gold. In their first game without him on Tuesday, they only managed two runs in 10 innings against the Mariners.
Fortunately, this currently doesn’t sound like a serious or long-term problem. Players pull muscles now and then, and he shouldn’t be out long unless something changes. Furthermore, the A’s still have plenty of power even without Khrush. There are dingers up and down the lineup, and if there’s one thing they can cover for it’s a short-term loss of one power bat. Now the young core will just have to practice stepping up a bit more, without one of their veteran stars to do the heavy lifting for them.
On top of that, Khrush has played mostly DH this year so at least there should be lots of options for replacing his spot in the order. Granted, his successor(s) won’t be as good or scary of a hitter, and might not be as comfortable DH’ing, but the point is there isn’t a positional issue to consider (like replacing a CF with another CF, etc.). Just pick your favorite surplus bat on any given day and plug him in, shifting around everyone else as needed for the optimal defensive arrangement and rest schedule.
Obviously it would be preferable for Khrush to not be hurt, and not have to go through a bunch of pain for a couple weeks. But in baseball terms, the A’s should be able to handle this. Still, though, whither Renato Nunez? This was the exact moment we needed him for! His chance finally came a month after he was cut.
As for Barreto, he seems like an odd replacement at the moment. He’s in the middle of a slump, going 6-for-46 (.528 OPS) in his last 13 games with a 32.8% strikeout rate. He did homer in his last game on Tuesday, though. It’s also not a bad idea to get Lowrie some rest, as he’s finally slowing down a bit after his torrid start at the plate — 6-for-34 (.557 OPS) over his last 10 games. The only other likely option was bringing up Jake Smolinski to sit on the bench for a couple weeks, so why not take another look at a top youngster and give Lowrie an occasional break from fielding?
Finally, regarding the pitching staff, the picture gets a bit clearer. It was difficult to figure out what to make of Font, and I was personally happy to trust the front office on this one. If they thought they could polish him up, then this summer was as good a time as any to stash a potential hidden gem in the back of the pen. But it looks like the experiment ran out of either time or interest, and indeed his 10 dingers in 17 innings this year is like something out of Dillon Overton’s fever dream. That isn’t just a bad rate, it’s historically awful. The bullpen is now down to nine members, bu they didn’t really lose anything since Font was essentially not being used (only four times in nearly a month).
More injury news
Two more quick updates:
- RHP Andrew Triggs had a clean MRI, but “does have a triceps strain, which is irritating radial nerve (on outside of elbow),” reports Kroner.
- LHP Brett Anderson saw a doctor on Tuesday but hasn’t resumed throwing, says Kroner.
Click here for Kroner’s full writeup at the Chronicle.
Here’s the updated roster, for now.
Sean Manaea (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)
Trevor Cahill (R)
Daniel Gossett (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Yusmerio Petit (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Danny Coulombe (L)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Ryan Dull (R)
Emilio Pagain (R)
Josh Lucas (R)
Jonathan Lucroy (R)
Bruce Maxwell (L)
Matt Olson (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Dustin Fowler (L)
10-day DL: RHP Andrew Triggs (triceps), LHP Brett Anderson (shoulder), RHP Liam Hendriks (groin), LHP Ryan Buchter (shoulder), DH Khris Davis (groin), OF Boog Powell (knee)
60-day DL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Paul Blackburn (forearm strain)