The Oakland A’s placed third baseman Matt Chapman on the disabled list, the team announced Saturday. The move is retroactive to Friday. To take his spot on the roster, top infield prospect Franklin Barreto was called up from Triple-A. In addition to all that, the bullpen swapped out a tired arm for a new one, as reliever Carlos Ramirez was optioned down and Josh Lucas was called up.
In a season full of injuries, this is one of the most costly yet. Chapman is the A’s best player and the leader of the young core they’re developing, so losing him for any amount of time is a big blow.
The problem is with his right hand, described for now by the team as a right thumb contusion. The good news is his MRI showed no structural damage, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. However, more opinions are being sought on the matter, and she also mentions in her full writeup that the same hand bothered him last fall and this past spring. Note that none of this is related to Chapman being hit by a pitch in the left hand on Tuesday night.
Chapman, 2018: .250/.346/.447, 122 wRC+, 10 HR, 11.4% BB, 23.9% Ks
He ranks third on the team in both wRC+ and homers, and second in walk rate. More importantly, though, he’s arguably the most valuable defensive player in baseball. He leads all MLB players at all positions in both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone rating (see chart below), and his success on both sides of the ball puts him 4th in MLB in bWAR (3.9) and tied for 10th in fWAR (2.8).
|1||3B Chapman (+18)||3B Chapman (+8.1)|
|2||OF Gardner (+14)||OF Calhoun (+6.6)|
|3||OF Duvall (+13)||SS Lindor (+6.0)|
|4||SS Russell (+13)||3B Ramirez (+6.0)|
Other players: Brett Gardner (NYY), Adam Duvall (CIN), Addison Russell (CHC), Kole Calhoun (LAA), Francisco Lindor (CLE), Jose Ramirez (CLE).
Filling those shoes appears to be some combination of super-sub Chad Pinder and 2B Jed Lowrie. Pinder played 3B on Friday but made a throwing error. He’s a far better defender in the outfield, but he spent most of his minor league career in the infield and played the hot corner in college so at least he has plenty of experience on the dirt. Lowrie is playing 3B on Saturday, his first start there since 2015 (h/t insider Jane Lee), and he may wind up being the primary replacement according to Julian McWilliams of The Athletic.
As for Chapman’s roster spot, that will be filled by Barreto. The 22-year-old has already spent a couple short stints in Oakland this year and even started three games, but overall at the plate he’s 0-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts. Before the season he placed second on our Community Prospect List, and he’s a consensus Top 100 prospect nationally. However, his development has stalled in Triple-A as he tries to reel in his high strikeout rate, with the bright side being that a career-high walk rate at least suggests some improvement in his batting eye.
Barreto, 2018 AAA: .236/.335/.441, 103 wRC+, 7 HR, 11.7% BB, 31.9% Ks
Since returning to Nashville in early June from his previous MLB stint, he’s 10-for-42 with five extra-base hits but has also struck out in 39% of his plate appearances. He’ll need to make more contact to be productive in the bigs, and that begins with lowering his 14.5% swinging-strike rate. (For context, that’s the midpoint between the SwStr% of Khris Davis and Matt Olson in MLB.)
Meanwhile, the bullpen gets a reinforcement. Ramirez came up on Thursday to help out, and short starts by both Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt gave him chances to mop up. Ramirez threw two sparkling innings against the Astros on Thursday, and then came back for two more Friday against the Angels but with much worse results.
Ramirez, Thu: 2 ip, 0 runs, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 hits, 20 pitches
Ramirez, Fri: 2 ip, 2 runs, 0 Ks, 3 BB, 1 hit, 34 pitches
The bullpen was taxed earlier in the week, so Ramirez did his job by eating some garbage-time innings and easing the overall burden. Now he’ll head back down in favor of the next guy in line, with Lucas tapping in for his turn. We last saw him in Oakland on May 31, and since then he’s tossed four scoreless outings in Triple-A (5⅓ ip, 7 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits).
Lucas, 2018 MLB: 2.89 ERA, 9⅓ ip, 10 Ks, 6 BB, 0 HR, 2.87 FIP
Here’s the updated roster.
Sean Manaea (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Frankie Montas (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Yusmerio Petit (R)
Emilio Pagan (R)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Josh Lucas (R)
Jonathan Lucroy (R)
Josh Phegley (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Dustin Fowler (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Jake Smolinski (R)
10-day DL: RHP Trevor Cahill (Achilles), RHP Daniel Gossett (elbow), RHP Andrew Triggs (triceps), LHP Brett Anderson (shoulder), LHP Ryan Buchter (shoulder), 3B Matt Chapman (hand), OF Matt Joyce (back)
60-day DL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), OF Boog Powell (knee)