The Oakland A’s placed starting pitcher Brett Anderson on the paternity list on Monday, the team announced. To replace him on the active roster, outfielder Nick Martini was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas.
First off, congrats to the Anderson family, including Brett’s wife Morgan and baby Brody! Brett must remain on paternity for at least 24 hours, but must return within 72 hours, so he will miss between one and three games. The exact time he’s out will be irrelevant, though, since he just started on Saturday and wasn’t scheduled to pitch in the upcoming three-game series in Houston. This leave of absence shouldn’t get in the way of his next start, on Thursday at home against the Rangers.
In baseball terms, the notable part of this news involves Martini. The outfielder was a surprise success last summer, posting a .397 OBP and 129 wRC+ in 179 plate appearances. He provided a strong on-base presence in the leadoff spot, and even notched a hit in the Wild Card Game against the Yankees. However, between the club’s offseason signing of similar high-OBP left fielder Robbie Grossman, plus a spring injury that cost Martini the first month of the season, the 29-year-old is yet to find his way back to the majors this year.
That Martini has been stuck in Triple-A all season hasn’t been for a lack of effort on his part, though. He’s continued to post exactly the kind of numbers you’d hope to see from him, with a mastery of the strike zone that allows him to reach base at an enormous clip. He’s not a power hitter, but he doesn’t have to be with his table-setting skills.
Martini, 2019 AAA: .343/.443/.467, 131 wRC+, 4 HR, 14.6% BB, 16.2% Ks
Now the patient lefty is back, though it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll get any playing time while he’s here. The entire outfield is on absolute fire right now, even with Stephen Piscotty out of action due to a knee injury. With Mark Canha replacing Piscotty in right field, the group has posted the following numbers in July:
- LF Grossman: .359/.490/.436, reached base 24 times in 49 PAs (including 10 BB, 4 Ks)
- CF Laureano: .434/.484/.962, with 7 HR in 64 PAs, and just named AL Player of the Week
- RF Canha: .283/.377/.623, with 5 HR in 61 PAs, and took cleanup spot from Khrush
One way or other, welcome back to Martini! He might not be a great fit at this moment, but he’s more than earned a cup of coffee in the bigs this summer.
Hot takes: At first glance, this is a peculiar move. The outfield is going ham right now, so why add an outfielder? Who do you sit to give him at-bats? Or is he just here to pinch-hit a couple times? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about Martini and wish there was a way he could have been here all year, but why now of all moments? If only he could play second base.
Meanwhile, the bullpen worked hard in the tough four games in Minnesota, and now they’ve got three more against the dreaded Houston lineup. A spare reliever like J.B. Wendelken would seem like a more useful addition for the next few days ... but is he even eligible to come up right now?
Wendelken was just sent down six days ago, so under normal circumstances he’d need to wait a few more days to be recalled. What I’m unclear on is whether the paternity list allows teams to recall a player early, in the same way that the injured list does — I asked Susan Slusser and she doesn’t know either. Of course, if the A’s had really wanted an extra pitcher then they could have brought up reliever Ryan Dull, or even starters Tanner Anderson or Paul Blackburn, but none of them are viable late-inning options like Wendelken.
As for the rest of the 40-man roster, infielder Jorge Mateo has cooled down substantially over the last month-plus, and there’s no need for a third catcher in Beau Taylor. That leaves a few outfielders, from which Martini is a fine choice.