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Oakland A’s acquire reliever Cory Gearrin from Rangers

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The A’s add one more pitcher at the last moment.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s acquired relief pitcher Cory Gearrin from the Rangers on Friday, the team announced. In exchange, the A’s sent minor league pitchers Abdiel Mendoza and Teodoro Ortega to Texas.

To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Paul Blackburn was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Gearrin was not yet added to the 25-man roster before Friday’s game, so a corresponding move hasn’t been made and ultimately won’t be needed with rosters expanding on Saturday.

This is the second time this season that Gearrin has been traded. The 32-year-old began the year with the Giants but was sent to the Rangers in July. He’d been with San Francisco since 2015, and last summer he posted a 1.99 ERA for them. He came back to Earth a bit this year, but his ERA still clocks in as better than average.

Gearrin, 2018: 3.51 ERA, 51⅓ ip, 51 Ks, 19 BB, 7 HR, 4.35 FIP

The right-hander has faced the A’s three times this year. The most notable of those appearances came in the “Khrush game,” in which Khris Davis homered to save the A’s when they were down to their last strike; Gearrin didn’t give up that game-winner, but he did allow another homer to Khrush earlier in the game to set up the heroics.

Gearrin’s arsenal mainly features a sinker, slider, and changeup. The sinker averages just under 93 mph and has reached as high as 96 this year, according to Brooks Baseball. The secondary offerings are more in the 84-86 range. It’s also worth noting that Gearrin is not a rental, as he is under team control for 2019 and is eligible for arbitration this winter.

“He’s been terrific,” said manager Bob Melvin before Friday’s game. “You envision more of a matchup righty-righty guy, but he’s also shown the ability to get lefties out. He can pitch a couple of innings, he’s got a funky arm slot, the ball moves a lot. I know he’s excited about being here.”

The A’s currently have nine pitchers in their bullpen: Treinen, Familia, Rodney, Trivino, Buchter, Kelley, Petit, Pagan, and Wendelken, with Gearrin yet to be officially added to the 25-man roster. That number could grow even more on Saturday, when rosters expand for the first day of September.

Heading the other way in the trade are two low-level pitching prospects. Mendoza never made our Community Prospect List but is an interesting 19-year-old lotto ticket. He’s undersized and doesn’t throw hard, but he’s got talent and was pitching reasonably well for Low-A Vermont this summer (3.32 ERA, 4.08 FIP, in 57 innings).

I’ve literally never heard of Ortega, who was signed in July 2017 and was pitching this year in the Dominican Summer League. My ignorance doesn’t mean the 18-year-old has nothing going for him, but the point is that he’s not a prospect whom Athletics Nation had yet grown attached to. Both Mendoza and Ortega are natives of Panama.

As for Blackburn, he’s already missed nearly two months anyway so moving him to the 60-day DL is just a procedural move. He last pitched for Oakland on July 6. This is the second time this season that he’s landed on the 60-day DL, first with a forearm strain and now with right elbow lateral epicondylitis (aka tennis elbow). The last update a couple weeks ago was that he had resumed throwing (and he was doing so again Friday), and this move does not preclude a return in 2018. It just means he’s off the 40-man roster for now, at a moment when spots are at a premium.

Friday is the last day of August, meaning that it’s the deadline to acquire players and have them be eligible for postseason play. If Oakland hangs on to make the playoffs, then they’ll be allowed to use Gearrin. They just lost two starting pitchers to injury in the last week, so they can use as many healthy, reliable arms as possible.

Hot takes

LOL. This is getting ridiculous, but in a good way. Gearrin is yet another right-handed reliever, which the A’s already have plenty of in their stacked bullpen. But more than that he’s a solid, reliable reliever, which you can never have enough of.

He’s not a superstar by any means, but he’s done some setup work both this year and in the past. This season he’s recorded one save and nine holds while blowing only two chances, and his last blown lead came in the middle of April.

Many of us wanted an extra starter, or at least a lefty reliever, but it’s easy to get behind this move anyway. It’s clear that the bullpen will continue playing a leading role, and adding another backend starter wouldn’t change that fact. Instead, there’s now one more steady arm in the pen, helping them shorten games as much as possible. Even better, like Mike Fiers and Fernando Rodney, the A’s can keep Gearrin into next season. All of this for a pair of teenagers who weren’t going to make our CPL.

It’s not the move I would have guessed, but it makes the A’s better than they were yesterday. I’ll take it.