Sunday marked the first day of September, which means active rosters around the league expanded beyond the usual 25 players to include anyone on the 40-man. The Oakland A’s began their morning by announcing five additions, including three call-ups from Triple-A and two MLB stars being activated from idle lists.
- DH Khris Davis (activated from paternity list)
- LHP Sean Manaea (activated from 60-day injured list)
- RHP Paul Blackburn
- C Sean Murphy (more info!)
- IF Franklin Barreto
Corresponding moves were required to add Manaea and Murphy to the 40-man roster. To make room, pitcher Tanner Anderson and infielder Corban Joseph were designated for assignment.
This might not be the end of the September call-ups, though, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. It’s likely that more new names will show up as the month progresses, especially after Triple-A Las Vegas finishes its own playoff run.
The biggest news here is the return of Manaea, which we already covered in a separate post. He was the A’s best starter in 2018, but he lost the final month of that season to shoulder surgery. Now he’s back, almost exactly one calendar year since his last MLB appearance.
The left-hander wasted no time getting into a game, drawing the start on Sunday against the Yankees, and he looked sharp right out of the gate. He faced the minimum through four innings and finished with the day with five scoreless frames, though he did run out of gas in the 5th and walk the bases loaded. Most importantly, his fastball spent most of the afternoon in the 91-93 mph range and topped out once at 94, which is the velocity level that Athletics Nation was hoping to see him return to after his long injury layoff.
Manaea, Sunday (at NYY): 5 ip, 0 runs, 5 Ks, 3 BB, 1 hit, 82 pitches
The other MLB name returning to action is Davis, who (along with wife Jill) welcomed a son named Phoenix, reports Slusser. The paternity list lasts three days, so Khrush was always scheduled to return Sunday.
The other three additions on Sunday were normal call-ups from the minors. The biggest among them is Murphy, who we also covered in a separate post. The catcher is one of Oakland’s three top prospects and a Top 100 national name. Not only is he a serious impact talent, but the position he plays happens to be one of the weakest on the current team. However, for now he’s here in more of a backup capacity as he gets his first brief taste of big league action.
The 24-year-old Murphy missed most of this season to a torn meniscus in his knee, but he did hit well in 31 games (140 plate appearances) for Triple-A Las Vegas, showing off his strong plate discipline and promising power.
Murphy, AAA: .308/.386/.625, 136 wRC+, 10 HR, 10.7% BB, 22.1% Ks
Joining him on the bench will be another recent Top 100 prospect in Barreto. The 23-year-old has already gotten a few looks in the majors this season but still hasn’t done enough to stick in Oakland, with his biggest problem being his struggles to make contact with MLB pitching. Still, he’s continued to produce in Triple-A, and for now he offers both infield depth and a speedy pinch-runner.
Barreto, AAA: .295/.374/.552, 121 wRC+, 19 HR, 15 SB, 9.9% BB, 26.7% Ks
Barreto, MLB: .106/.125/.255, -10 wRC+, 2 HR, 1 SB, 2.1% BB, 37.5% Ks
Those major league stats come in just 48 plate appearances, but they’re representative of his career marks over 199 PAs of sporadic backup time (.188 avg, 58 wRC+, 40.2% Ks)
The final new name is Blackburn, who adds some extra length to the pitching staff. The right-hander made one MLB appearance earlier this season in June, in an emergency spot start for a makeup doubleheader against the Texas Rangers. He got rocked in that game (3 ip, 5 runs, 4 Ks, 3 BB, 5 hits), and to that point in the season he’d been mediocre at best in Triple-A.
However, Blackburn has shown vast improvement since returning to the minors. In July he adjusted to become more aggressive on the mound, reports Slusser, and he’s now ripped off seven quality starts in his last 10 outings. His numbers since late-June are about all you can hope for from a pitch-to-contact hurler in the hitter-paradise Pacific Coast League and the launching-pad Las Vegas Stadium:
Blackburn, last 11 gms: 3.27 ERA, 66 ip, 43 Ks, 12 BB, 6 HR, 4.22 FIP
Despite spending all summer in Triple-A, the 25-year-old isn’t new to the majors. He made 10 starts for Oakland in 2017 with promising results (3.22 ERA, 4.39 FIP), but then he got lit up in 2018 in six starts (7.16 ERA, albeit 3.59 FIP) and ended up missing most of that year to an elbow injury.
The A’s already have six starters between Mike Fiers, Brett Anderson, Tanner Roark, Homer Bailey, Chris Bassitt, and now Manaea, so Blackburn’s role will mostly come in long relief, reports Slusser.
As for the odd men out, Anderson made five starts for the A’s this year but wasn’t able to stick in the rotation. The right-handed groundball specialist also got torched in Triple-A, though he had a few promising results lately after moving to the bullpen.
Anderson, AAA: 6.00 ERA, 96 ip, 59 Ks, 41 BB, 21 HR, 6.85 FIP
Anderson, MLB: 6.04 ERA, 22⅓ ip, 18 Ks, 7 BB, 4 HR, 4.88 FIP
In Anderson’s last three relief outings for Vegas, he tossed 8⅓ innings and allowed just one run on four hits.
Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Joseph got the call to Oakland a couple weeks ago after putting up a monster season in Triple-A. However, the minor league veteran wasn’t able to keep it up against major league pitching, falling flat in a brief audition at second base. At the same time, the enigmatic Jurickson Profar heated up at the plate, and then on Thursday top prospect Sheldon Neuse was called up for his own trial run, all of which (plus Barreto’s promotion Sunday) completely squeezed out Joseph at the keystone.
Joseph, AAA: .371/.421/.585, 144 wRC+, 13 HR, 7.8% BB, 10.8% Ks
Joseph, MLB: .189/.225/.324, 40 wRC+, 1 HR, 5.0% BB, 12.5% Ks
Those major league stats came in just 40 plate appearances, in which he went 7-for-37. He did at least get to be involved in an interesting and unusual run-scoring play on Thursday.
Over the next week, Anderson and Joseph will either be claimed on waivers by another club, released, or accept a non-roster assignment to the minors.
In other transaction news, lefty reliever Wei-Chung Wang was claimed off waivers by the Pirates on Saturday, the A’s announced. He had been DFA’d on Thursday to make room for Neuse.
Here’s a look at the updated 40-man roster. Players in italics are still in the minors, not on the active MLB 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 (or, in the case of Barrera, the minor league IL).
Remember that at least one more 40-man spot will be needed in the final week of September, when pitcher Frankie Montas gets activated from his PED suspension. More spots will also be needed before then if the A’s want to promote the likes of top pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo or veteran reclamation project (and newly converted reliever) Matt Harvey.
Mike Fiers (R)
Tanner Roark (R)
Brett Anderson (L)
Homer Bailey (R)
Chris Bassitt (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
-Daniel Mengden (R)
--Grant Holmes (R)
--James Kaprielian (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Joakim Soria (R)
Blake Treinen (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Ryan Buchter (L)
A.J. Puk (L)
Paul Blackburn (R)
-Jharel Cotton (R)
-J.B. Wendelken (R)
Chris Herrmann (L)
Josh Phegley (R)
Sean Murphy (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Jurickson Profar (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Matt Chapman (R)
Sheldon Neuse (R)
Franklin Barreto (R)
--Jorge Mateo (R)
Khris Davis (R)
Mark Canha (R)
Robbie Grossman (S)
Chad Pinder (R)
Seth Brown (L)
-Ramon Laureano (R)**
-Stephen Piscotty (R)**
-Skye Bolt (S)
-Dustin Fowler (L)
--Luis Barrera (L)**
10-day IL: OF Ramon Laureano (leg), OF Stephen Piscotty (ankle)
60-day IL: RHP Daniel Gossett (TJS)