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Oakland A’s activate Frankie Montas from PED suspension

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Catcher Beau Taylor was DFA’d, again

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s activated pitcher Frankie Montas from his PED suspension on Wednesday, the team announced. The right-hander will start the evening’s game against the Angels. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, catcher Beau Taylor was designated for assignment.

At the end of June, Montas was popped for a PED violation, netting him an 80-game suspension for a first-time offense. At the time he was enjoying a breakout season and looked like a lock to make the All-Star team, giving the A’s the rotation ace that they’d seemed to lack entering the year. The suspension stopped him in his tracks and effectively cost him the rest of the summer, though he’s now back in time for the final five games of the regular season.

Montas, 2019: 2.70 ERA, 90 ip, 97 Ks, 21 BB, 7 HR, 2.91 FIP

Even though Montas will get the chance to make a start on Wednesday, he still won’t be eligible to pitch in the postseason, as his PED violation ruled that out entirely this year regardless of his return date. While he was out of action, he kept warm by throwing a simulated game every five days in Arizona, reports Ben Ross of NBCS.

After Montas’ start, the rotation will look like this for the final four games, per insider Martin Gallegos:

  • Thu: Sean Manaea
  • Fri: Mike Fiers
  • Sat: Brett Anderson
  • Sun: Tanner Roark
  • AL Wild Card Game is Wed, Oct. 2

Since Montas had been removed from the 40-man roster during his suspension, a move was necessary to add him back on. The odd man out was Taylor, who was DFA’d by the A’s for the second time this year. Last time he was picked up off waivers by the Blue Jays, only to be DFA’d later by Toronto and re-claimed by the A’s on Sept 10. Since his return he only appeared in one game, going 0-for-1 as a late-inning sub.

With Taylor out of the picture, the only catchers on the A’s 40-man roster are now Josh Phegley and rookie Sean Murphy.

If Oakland were to make the postseason and something happened to one of those backstops, then non-roster veteran backups Dustin Garneau and Cameron Rupp were in the organization before Aug 31, so one of them could be called on provided that the A’s have enough loophole-IL spots to cover it — right now they might have as many as four loophole spots available (Gossett, Piscotty, Treinen, Trivino), with two already likely spoken for by Murphy and pitcher Jesus Luzardo. All that said, nothing in this paragraph is new, because Taylor wouldn’t have been eligible anyway due to not being in the organization at that Aug. 31 deadline.

Hot takes

Welcome back Frankie! It will be nice to see him get one last chance to end the summer on a positive note. This year went sour for him, but he’s still a big part of the team’s core moving forward into 2020.

As for Beau, he’s a favorite of Athletics Nation, but the reality is that he wasn’t playing and wasn’t likely to anytime soon. What’s more, he would almost surely have been DFA’d after the season ended, since the A’s will need all the roster space they can create for Rule 5 prospect protection and other maneuvers — they never keep a backup third catcher on the roster throughout the offseason and they weren’t going to start now. This DFA was an inevitability in the next several weeks, so it’s merely coming slightly early.

If you’re wondering why they didn’t just put one of their injured players on the 60-day IL to create the roster spot for Montas, the first answer is the above paragraph. The second answer is that, by moving the player from the 10-day to the 60-day, his spot could no longer have been used as a postseason loophole — the player must have been on the IL long enough to satisfy the minimum stint, and Piscotty/Treinen/Trivino will all have missed more than 10 days but fewer than 60 days (for Treinen and Trivino, start counting from their last appearances, since they technically haven’t gone on the IL yet). Factor in the possibility that (especially) Piscotty or (not impossible) Trivino might return late in a deep playoff run, and it’s best to keep all options open here. Keeping Taylor for another five days (remember, he was ineligible for October regardless) is not worth reducing that postseason flexibility.

The bottom line here is that the A’s are clearly comfortable with Murphy after 15 games in the majors. After all, they’ve gone all-in with him as one of their two catchers the rest of the way.