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Oakland A’s activate Stephen Piscotty from injured list, option Franklin Barreto to minors

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Oakland gets back one of their key outfielders at an opportune moment.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s activated outfielder Stephen Piscotty from the injured list on Saturday, the team announced. To make room on the 25-man roster, they optioned infielder Franklin Barreto to Triple-A Las Vegas.

The last time Piscotty played was June 29, when he sprained his knee sliding into second base. The injury initially looked even worse than it turned out, but he’s now back in action just over a month later.

However, even before landing on the IL, the 28-year-old was mired in a slump. His season numbers are far below his fantastic 2018 campaign, when he posted a 125 wRC+ and 27 homers. On the bright side, he used the time off to “hone his hitting mechanics a little bit; he felt his swing had gotten a little too long and he’s working on keeping his swing a little shorter and more compact,” reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle.

Piscotty, 2019: .242/.306/.391, 86 wRC+, 9 HR, 8.2% BB, 21.3% Ks

The return of Piscotty couldn’t have come at a better time, as the A’s just lost another starting outfielder to the injured list. Center fielder Ramon Laureano will miss at least a few weeks with a stress reaction in his leg, and now Mark Canha, who had primarily covered for Piscotty in RF, can slide over and help out in CF for the time being. The A’s also have Robbie Grossman, Nick Martini, and Chad Pinder as options for LF.

The odd man out for now is second baseman Barreto, who spent a month in Oakland but once again didn’t get a full chance to start every day. He was called up to replace Piscotty at the end of June, but started only half of the team’s games while he was here, alongside fellow 2B Jurickson Profar.

Barreto, MLB: .106/.125/.255, minus-9 wRC+, 2 HR, 2.1% BB, 37.5% Ks.

In terms of infielders, the A’s now have just their four starters on the active roster, with super-sub Pinder available as a backup.

Quick analysis: Granted, Barreto didn’t do much at the plate to force his way into more playing time, including 18 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances. But Profar himself only batted .176 with a .677 OPS since the beginning of July, amid an atrocious season overall, so if there was ever a time to try something new then this would have been it.

If they’re never going to give Barreto consistent at-bats when they call him up, then I don’t understand why they keep calling him up, or even why he’s still in the organization at this point. Is he a promising youngster worth a look in the bigs, or not? He’s never going to be hotter in Triple-A than he was when he got this call in late June, and the 2B position is never going to be more up-for-grabs than it is now, so I just don’t know what else he can do to earn a couple weeks of sink-or-swim opportunity in the majors.

Other moves

The A’s made some other moves over the last 24 hours. Also on Saturday, they claimed catcher Dustin Garneau off waivers, and designated reliever Ryan Dull for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Fellow catcher Beau Taylor was optioned to Triple-A to clear a 25-man spot for Garneau.

Furthermore, on Friday they optioned starter Daniel Mengden to Vegas to make room for new rotation acquisition Tanner Roark. Fellow pitcher Andrew Triggs, who was DFA’d to make 40-man space for Roark, was released Saturday.

With Mengden back in the minors, there is now some truly viable depth for the rotation behind the current starting five. The right-hander has been inconsistent in the majors but is still an MLB-caliber option, whereas Paul Blackburn and Tanner Anderson have been hit hard in their limited chances in Oakland this summer.

Mengden, 2019: 4.85 ERA, 55⅔ ip, 41 Ks, 25 BB, 6 HR, 4.49 FIP

For what it’s worth, Blackburn has looked sharp in his last six outings in Vegas. Four of those six registered as quality starts, and overall he posted a 3.08 ERA and 4.09 FIP in 38 innings.

The rotation could get another boost in the coming days, with Sean Manaea scheduled to come off the injured list within the next week. In two rehab starts in Triple-A, he’s thrown 10⅓ innings with 15 Ks and 2 BB.

Updated roster

Here’s a look at the new 40-man roster. Players in italics are not on the 25-man roster. Those with a second dash before their name (--) have not yet debuted in MLB, and those with asterisks** are on the 10-day injured list.

Oakland A's 40-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Mike Fiers (R)
Tanner Roark (R)
Brett Anderson (L)
Homer Bailey (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)
-Daniel Mengden (R)
-Paul Blackburn (R)
-Tanner Anderson (R)
--Grant Holmes (R)
--James Kaprielian (R)


Relievers

Liam Hendriks (R)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Joakim Soria (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
Wei-Chung Wang (L)
-Jharel Cotton (R)
-J.B. Wendelken (R)
Catchers

Chris Herrmann (L)
Dustin Garneau (R)
-Josh Phegley (R)**
-Beau Taylor (L)


Infielders

Matt Olson (L)
Jurickson Profar (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
-Franklin Barreto (R)
--Jorge Mateo (R)


Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Mark Canha (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Chad Pinder (R)
Nick Martini (L)
-Ramon Laureano (R)**
-Skye Bolt (S)
-Dustin Fowler (L)
--Luis Barrera (L)

60-day IL: RHP Marco Estrada (back), RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS), LHP Sean Manaea (shoulder)