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Oakland A’s call up 8 players in flurry of September moves

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Matt Joyce is back from the DL, and Bruce Maxwell was DFA’d.

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Saturday is the first day of September, and that means active rosters expand from a limit of 25 to anyone on the 40-man roster. The Oakland A’s wasted no time taking advantage of the opportunity to add some reinforcements, both for an overworked bullpen and also for a lineup that has played the last 15 straight days with five more to go before a break.

The A’s called up eight players on Saturday, in various different ways. First, the list:

  • LHP Danny Coulombe
  • RHP Cory Gearrin
  • RHP Chris Hatcher
  • RHP Liam Hendriks
  • LHP Dean Kiekhefer
  • C Beau Taylor
  • IF Franklin Barreto
  • OF Matt Joyce

It took quite a bit of maneuvering to make all of this happen. Here’s the rundown.

First, the easy part. Coulombe and Barreto were already on the 40-man roster, so they merely needed to be called up from Triple-A. Joyce was on the disabled list with a strained back, so he was simply activated. And Gearrin was acquired in a trade on Friday and added to the 40-man, so he too needed only to be activated.

As for the other four, they were not on the 40-man and so they needed to be added. To clear space, four more players needed to be removed from the roster:

  • RHP Kendall Graveman called up, placed on 60-day DL
  • RHP Josh Lucas outrighted to Triple-A
  • C Bruce Maxwell designated for assignment
  • OF Boog Powell outrighted to Triple-A

It’s a procedural move for Graveman, who had technically been on the minor league DL while recovering from Tommy John surgery that could cost him all of 2019. The big difference for him is that he will now resume accruing MLB service time. Lucas and Powell were already in Triple-A but apparently didn’t make the cut for callups to the bigs, so they’re off the roster but remain in the organization.

Perhaps the biggest news here is the DFA of Maxwell, who at one point appeared to be a part of the A’s young core. However, he ran into legal trouble during the offseason and his on-field performance cratered this year, putting him out of favor in all kinds of ways. He’s likely to clear waivers, suggests Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, so he could well remain in the organization, but for now he’s not part of any 2018 plans.

Meeting the new guys

Regarding the new callups, most of them are already familiar faces. Coulombe, Hendriks, and Hatcher have all spent substantial time in the bullpen both this year and over the last few years, though Hendriks spent a big chunk of this season on the DL. The same goes for Joyce, who was a regular starter in the outfield this year but ran into injury issues this summer. Barreto is a top prospect who has come up to Oakland to fill in when needed several times over the last two seasons.

However, the other three are new to A’s fans. Kiekhefer last appeared in the bigs in 2016 for the Cardinals, while Taylor has never been up before and will make his MLB debut whenever he next takes the field. Click here for more on the acquisition of Gearrin, who is more than just a fringe September call-up and gives the bullpen yet another reliable veteran arm.

Here are some 2018 stat lines:

Coulombe, MLB: 4.56 ERA, 23⅔ ip, 26 Ks, 11 BB, 5 HR, 5.10 FIP
Gearrin, MLB: 3.51 ERA, 51⅓ ip, 51 Ks, 19 BB, 7 HR, 4.34 FIP
Hatcher, MLB: 4.24 ERA, 34 ip, 28 Ks, 17 BB, 5 HR, 5.00 FIP
Hendriks, MLB: 7.36 ERA, 11 ip, 12 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 6.42 FIP

That line for Hendriks is awful, but an injury also factored into his season. He’s currently on the following run of utter dominance in Triple-A:

Hendriks, AAA last 17 gms: 0.45 ERA, 20 ip, 35 Ks, 4 BB, 0 HR, 0.85 FIP

As for the 29-year-old Kiekhefer (KEEK-heff-uhr), he began the season on the Reds’ Double-A team, but he’s done the following since coming to Oakland and moving up to Triple-A Nashville:

Kiekhefer, AAA: 3.83 ERA, 44⅔ ip, 36 Ks, 6 BB, 4 HR, 3.97 FIP

Along with Coulombe and incumbent Ryan Buchter, the A’s now have three lefties in their bullpen. They’ve spent most of the year with just one southpaw, but now the extra bodies could allow them to play some LOOGY matchups when opponents bring a tough lefty hitter to the plate. Kiekhefer has consistently silenced lefties throughout his upper-minors career.

The influx of arms into the bullpen should generally be a boon for the pitching staff. They’ve spent the year with eight relievers and sometimes nine, but with their starting rotation constantly battling injuries (and short leashes even when healthy) there has still been more than enough work to go around. Now there are 14 relievers, with Ryan Dull likely to come up on Tuesday as well to make 15. For as big of a role as the pen had played before, it can now cover entire games if necessary without batting an eye.

As for the hitters, first up is Joyce.

Joyce, MLB: .203/.311/.359, 87 wRC+, 7 HR, 13.3% BB, 22.6% Ks

It’s been a lost year, after posting a 116 wRC+ and 25 homers last season. Furthermore, while he’s been on the shelf this summer the outfield has become crowded with breakout success stories, from Mark Canha to top prospect Ramon Laureano to upstart rookie Nick Martini. It remains to be seen what kind of role Joyce will find for himself now that he’s back, but even if he doesn’t regain his spot as the starting LF he could still prove to be a valuable left-handed bat off the bench for a lineup that is heavy on righty hitters.

Next is Barreto:

Barreto, MLB: .246/.270/.508, 109 wRC+, 4 HR, 1.6% BB, 39.7% Ks
Barreto, AAA: .259/.357/.514, 125 wRC+, 18 HR, 11.7% BB, 31.8% Ks

He’s still striking out far too often, which is something he absolutely needs to fix before he can be an effective hitter in the bigs. However, to his credit, he’s vastly improved his walk rate in the minors, giving hope that he’s beginning to improve his pitch recognition, and he’s also hitting for a ton of power when he does make contact. He recently made some changes to his mechanics at the plate, and his latest stint in Triple-A has been especially impressive (91 plate appearances):

Barreto, AAA last 22 gms: .325/.385/.650, 162 wRC+, 7 HR, 7.7% BB, 30.8% Ks

The underlying strikeout problem is still there, which overshadows everything else, but still. Yowza.

Finally, there’s Taylor. The catcher was drafted back in 2011 (5th round), making him one of the longest-tenured players in the entire organization. Finally, at age 28 and in his eighth pro season, he’s got his first call to the bigs. He’s a lefty batter, so he replaces Maxwell in that regard. Taylor has a drug suspension on his past record, but he’s consistently drawn rave reviews from the organization. His specialty at the plate is his on-base ability, with a career .364 OBP in 131 Triple-A games over the last two years. His 2018 line looks like this:

Taylor, AAA: .248/.360/.348, 92 wRC+, 3 HR, 14.0% BB, 25.0% Ks

Here’s an updated look at the roster. Rather than the 25-man, which no longer exists, this is the full 40-man roster. The seven players who remain in the minors/DL are listed in italics with an *asterisk. Of course, more of them are expected to come up in the next few days, but for procedural reasons Dull, Martini, Montas, and Bassitt have to wait until Tuesday (the day after Nashville’s season ends).

Oakland A's 40-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Trevor Cahill (R)
Mike Fiers (R)
Edwin Jackson (R)
Daniel Mengden (R)
*Frankie Montas (R)
*Chris Bassitt (R)
*Sean Manaea (L) (DL)
*Brett Anderson (L) (DL)


Relievers

Blake Treinen (R)
Jeurys Familia (R)
Fernando Rodney (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Shawn Kelley (R)
Cory Gearrin (R)
Emilio Pagan (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
Danny Coulombe (L)
Chris Hatcher (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Dean Kiekhefer (L)
*Ryan Dull (R)
Catchers

Jonathan Lucroy (R)
Josh Phegley (R)
Beau Taylor (L)

Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
*Jorge Mateo (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Dustin Fowler (L)
Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
*Nick Martini (L)

10-day DL: LHP Brett Anderson (forearm), LHP Sean Manaea (shoulder)

60-day DL: RHP Paul Blackburn (elbow), RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS), RHP Kendall Graveman (TJS), RHP Andrew Triggs (triceps/nerve), OF Jake Smolinski (blood clot)