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Oakland A’s add 3 prospects to 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection

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Two mostly expected, one mild surprise

Oakland Athletics v Chicago Cubs
Miguel Romero finally joins the 40-man roster
Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

Friday is the deadline for teams to protect their prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 draft, which they can do by adding those prospects to their 40-man rosters. Among players who have been languishing in the minors for several years, anyone left unprotected off a roster could be stolen away in December.

The Oakland A’s selected three prospects to add to their roster Friday morning:

  • RHP Miguel Romero
  • RHP Wandisson Charles
  • OF Greg Deichmann

Now that they’re on the 40-man, they can be freely called up and down from the minors to the majors next season. However, if they do spend more than a couple weeks in the minors, then they will use one of their three option years — and take one step toward the dreaded “out of options” status. They’re now on the clock to move up or move out by 2024.

The A’s protection choices all make sense, even if one of them is a mild surprise. Deichmann was the one name everyone seemed to agree would get protected, as a promising slugger who was last seen destroying the 2019 Arizona Fall League against quality competition from around the minors. He would presumably have played in Triple-A this summer if the season hadn’t been canceled, and in a best-case scenario it’s easy to imagine him forcing his way to the majors sometime in 2021.

As for the pitchers, both of them right-handed relievers, Romero seemed a likely bet to get this call. It’s felt like he’s been on the cusp of the roster forever, especially after a strong showing in Triple-A in 2019, and now that the A’s are losing half their bullpen to free agency he’s the perfect cheap, internal candidate to try out next spring. As an MLB-readyish reliever (with a brand new changeup to dream about!) he would have been a prime target to be possibly snapped up in Rule 5 next month, so adding him to the roster now is prudent.

Charles, on the other hand, was less of a sure thing. In fact, he was eligible for Rule 5 last winter and wasn’t protected, and it’s not like anyone has played a minor league game since. He also hasn’t yet pitched above Double-A. But it’s easy to see why he’d be attractive to a team next month, and in fact last year Athletics Nation did recommend protecting him. He can exceed 100 mph on the radar gun, and he’s finally learning to harness that velocity and keep it around the plate more often. His strikeout rates have always been mammoth, with the bigger question being walks, but like Romero he’s exactly the kind of live arm you want to try out next spring while filling out a bullpen on a budget (and/or have available as a reinforcement midseason).

As for who didn’t get protected, upper-minors starters Parker Dunshee and Brian Howard were left out, as was lower-minors Top 20 infield prospect Jordan Diaz, among others. We’ll have to cross our fingers and hope they don’t get swiped by another club next month. The 2020 Rule 5 draft will take place Dec. 10.

Congrats to the three newest members of the A’s roster!

Analysis

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Rule 5 candidates and thought about who we would or wouldn’t choose in this process. My personal preference list (of four) got two right with Deichmann and Romero, but I also wanted Dunshee and Howard. Although I didn’t pick Charles this time, I’m glad the A’s did, since I did pick him last year and nothing much has changed since then.

Although I understand the risk with Diaz, I don’t think there’s space right now for the luxury of that peace of mind. What’s more, Renato Nunez, Jorge Mateo, and Franklin Barreto all taught us that there is a potential downside to rushing to protect young prospects too early, because it puts their long-term development on a strict clock and often the buzzer comes before they’re ready. The A’s made the right gamble at this moment with Diaz, who isn’t as highly touted of a prospect as the other names in that last sentence were.

Athletics Nation mostly agreed with that sentiment. In our poll, only 31% chose an option that included protecting Diaz. Deichmann was a virtual lock so he wasn’t included in the voting options, and I left out Charles too. Romero was in the scenario for 44% of voters, plus another 20% that left room for one or more unnamed pitchers. Exactly 50% wanted both Dunshee and Howard, with another 21-33% keeping at least one of them.

Here is the updated 40-man roster, which currently has 35 members and five open spots. Players in --italics haven’t yet debuted in MLB, and those with asterisks** are eligible for arbitration and still must be tendered contracts for 2021 to remain with the club.

Oakland A's 40-man roster (35)
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)**
Jesus Luzardo (L)
Sean Manaea (L)**
Frankie Montas (R)**
A.J. Puk (L)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
James Kaprielian (R)
--Grant Holmes (R)

Relievers

Jake Diekman (L)
Burch Smith (R)**
Lou Trivino (R)**
Jordan Weems (R)
J.B. Wendelken (R)
--Wandisson Charles (R)
--Miguel Romero (R)


Help Wanted
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Jonah Heim (S)
Austin Allen (L)

Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)**
Matt Olson (L)**
Chad Pinder (R)**
Tony Kemp (L)**
Vimael Machin (L)
Sheldon Neuse (R)
Nate Orf (R)

Outfielders

Mark Canha (R)**
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Khris Davis (R)
Skye Bolt (S)
Seth Brown (L)
Dustin Fowler (L)
--Luis Barrera (L)
--Greg Deichmann (L)