The Oakland A’s brought back a familiar face on Tuesday, as the team announced they claimed catcher Beau Taylor on waivers from the Blue Jays. To make room on the 40-man roster, fellow catcher Chris Herrmann was designated for assignment.
The A’s DFA’d Taylor in mid-August when they needed room for infielder Corban Joseph, and Toronto claimed him at that time. He played one game for the Jays and went 0-for-2, plus another 10 games for their Triple-A affiliate. Now he returns to the team that drafted him back in 2011, and with whom he spent his entire pro career until last month.
Taylor, 2019 MLB: 4-for-24, 2 HR, 4 BB, 7 Ks
The 29-year-old lefty hitter is best known for his plate discipline and on-base ability, as well as his work behind the dish. Furthermore, Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle notes the following: “Taylor has worked extensively with most of the A’s top young pitchers, including some recent callups, and he’s long been a favorite of A’s coaches, development folks, pitchers.”
For more on Taylor and his pro career, here’s a full writeup from Melissa Lockard of The Athletic.
As for Herrmann, the A’s signed him last winter to a $1 million contract, but he never got going in green and gold. He missed the first half of the season to knee surgery, and upon his return he didn’t hit at all in 94 plate appearances.
Herrmann, 2019: .202/.280/.274, 53 wRC+, 1 HR, 9.6% BB, 30.9% Ks
Over the next week, the 31-year-old will either be claimed on waivers by another club, released, or accept a non-roster assignment to the minors.
In the time since Taylor’s departure, Oakland called up impact top prospect Sean Murphy. The rookie had a memorable MLB debut last week, homering and catching a shutout in what A’s fans hope was a glimpse of great things to come.
Oakland’s catching situation is now led by Murphy and Josh Phegley, who has gotten the bulk of the playing time with a career-high 320 plate appearances (and responded with an 89 wRC+, which is solid for a catcher). Taylor stands as the only lefty hitter of the trio.
This transaction also has implications for the postseason, should the A’s get there. Since Taylor was not in the organization at the end of August, he will not be eligible for the playoffs in any way. Murphy was not yet on the 40-man at the necessary deadline but can be loopholed in to replace an injured teammate, but there is no situation in which Taylor can participate. For what it’s worth, Oakland still has veteran Dustin Garneau in Triple-A, though he’s not on the 40-man at this time; he was at least in the organization at the end of August.
The obvious question is: Why did they ever DFA Taylor in the first place? What changed in the last month that made them switch their preference to Taylor over Herrmann?
terrific question.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 10, 2019
We may never know the answer. Maybe they thought Beau would clear waivers last month and were surprised when he got claimed. Maybe they wanted a little longer to look at Herrmann, who had only been in action for a month and a half at the time that Taylor was cut. Maybe Murphy impressed them so much in the last week that they felt comfortable making him one of the top dogs right away*. Maybe they simply changed their mind and were gifted a second chance at the decision.
* Taylor has minor league options remaining and Herrmann doesn’t, and so if all they need now is a backup to stash behind Murphy/Phegs next year, then he’s more valuable in that regard than Herrmann, who could have been retained one more season via arbitration if they’d wanted.
Either way, it’s not something to lose sleep over. Furthermore, given that most of Athletics Nation preferred Beau over Herrmann anyway, I don’t think anyone will be complaining now that they eventually got it right.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that, if they do make the postseason, Murphy will almost certainly be there with them. We didn’t know that for sure before, as they may have opted to go with their two veterans and the righty-lefty balance they provided, but now that option is gone. Life comes at you fast: Murphy might go from Triple-A to the MLB playoffs in just over one month.
Welcome back, Beau! Best of luck at your next stop Herrmann, aka Mr. Man, aka Herrmm the Worm!