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Oakland A’s activate Mark Canha, DFA Kendrys Morales

The A’s say farewell to their stopgap first baseman.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s activated Mark Canha from the injured list, the team announced Monday. To make room on the roster, first baseman Kendrys Morales was designated for assignment.

The diagnosis for Canha had been a sprained wrist, and he missed only two weeks of action on the IL. He played a pair of rehab games for Triple-A Las Vegas but was in the Oakland clubhouse after Sunday’s game, with the team preparing to head out on a long road trip. He hasn’t gotten a lot of playing time so far this year, but he’s done an excellent job of getting on base and has also shown some of his customary power.

Canha, 2019: 8-for-40, 2 HR, 11 BB, 13 Ks, 115 wRC+

That 20.8% walk rate has his OBP at .377 despite a low early-season batting average. The sample is small and he isn’t likely to maintain that absurd level of walks, but nevertheless it’s a nice start to the year for Canha.

The trick has been getting him into the actual lineup. With Robbie Grossman and Chad Pinder splitting left field, and Matt Olson back from his own injury and entrenched at first base every day, it’s tough to find room for Canha.

Even when Olson was on the shelf with a broken hamate, the position was filled by acquiring Morales. Unfortunately, the 35-year-old veteran never got going at the plate, and now with Olson and Canha back in the fold there’s no room for a spare 1B/DH.

Morales, 2019: .204/.310/.259, 65 wRC+, 11.1% BB, 15.9% Ks

There may well be something left in the tank for Morales, who still displayed strong plate discipline and was adored by Statcast. His .371 xwOBA was second on the team, suggesting he was at least making good contact. However, it didn’t translate to any production in Oakland.

Hot takes

I didn’t really get why the A’s acquired Morales. Olson wasn’t going to be out for long, and my stance at the time was that they should just let Canha play every day in the meantime, or otherwise utilize a roster and depth chart that was already packed with young versatility. Instead, they spent a month giving at-bats to an emergency stopgap and got absolutely nothing out of it.

And this isn’t meant to rip on Morales. He was good as recently as last year. But even if he’d gotten hot at some point last month, he still would have been forced out of the picture by now due to his own lack of versatility on a team that already has two of its biggest stars locking down DH and 1B. I never really understood the upside here, nor why it was any higher than the upside of just freeing Canha for a month of regular play. And this isn’t just theoretical — Canha thrived in a similar emergency role early last season, when the A’s suddenly needed help in CF.

Even factoring in the fact that Canha got hurt in late-April and missed time himself, there was all of one week in between his injury and Olson’s return. The A’s could have handled that brief gap, whether with Chad Pinder or Jurickson Profar, etc, without spending resources on a low-upside external move.

But anyway, it’s done now and in the past. By all accounts Morales is a great guy and a top-notch teammate, and having a respected vet around for a minute isn’t the worst thing in the world. Best of luck to Morales in his next stop, and may it be in the National League so that he doesn’t spend the rest of the year haunting us with the Curse of the Former A’s.

Updated roster

Here’s the new 25-man.

Oakland A's 25-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Frankie Montas (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)
Mike Fiers (R)
Brett Anderson (L)
Daniel Mengden (R)

Relievers

Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Joakim Soria (R)
Fernando Rodney (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Aaron Brooks (R)
Catchers

Josh Phegley (R)
Nick Hundley (R)

Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Jurickson Profar (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Chad Pinder (R)
Mark Canha (R)

10-day IL: RHP Marco Estrada (back), OF Nick Martini (knee)

60-day IL: RHP Jharel Cotton (TJS), RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS), LHP Sean Manaea (shoulder), C Chris Herrmann (knee)