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Elephant Rumblings: Rule 5 draft results; Rangers and Rays make a trade; Comeback Player awards announced

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MLB news roundup

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
Nate Lowe, now a Texas Ranger
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning afternoon evening, Athletics Nation!

After a slow start to the offseason, baseball news has begun to trickle in this week. On Thursday, we got a relative downpour. There was the annual Rule 5 draft, plus a trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers, and also the Comeback Player of the Year awards were announced.

First up is the Rule 5 draft, with teams getting the chance to steal prospects from each other by gambling that they’re ready to stick in the majors immediately. The A’s made two picks in the MLB phase of the draft, plus two more in the lesser-known Triple-A phase, while only losing one Double-A player in that minor league portion.

The A’s picks, or click here to see the full results for all teams:

  • MLB: OF Ka’ai Tom (from CLE)
  • MLB: RHP Dany Jimenez (from TOR)
  • AAA: RHP Zach Jackson (from TOR)
  • AAA: RHP Brett Graves (from MIA)

Graves is of particular note because he was originally an A’s prospect whom Oakland drafted out of college in 2014. The Marlins took him in the MLB Rule 5 draft a few years ago, and now he returns to the A’s in similar fashion in the minor league phase.

Meanwhile, the A’s lost RHP Seth Martinez to the Astros in the minor league phase this year. Martinez pitched in Double-A in 2019 and posted strong numbers.

Among Oakland’s MLB picks, Tom has a similar skill set to Robbie Grossman, as an outfielder who can bat lefty, control the strike zone, draw walks, and flash a bit of power with his line drive approach. Here’s a quick scouting report from Cleveland media:

And more from A’s insider Martin Gallegos:

As for Jimenez, Gallegos relays the following:

Can either of Tom or Jimenez stick on the MLB roster all year, and even become contributors to a contending 2021 A’s team? We’ll begin to find out when spring training rolls around. At the very least, there is a clear path to playing time for both at two of Oakland’s current areas of need, if they can force their way into the picture.

Rays trade Lowe to Rangers

That’s first baseman Nate Lowe, not All-MLB Second-Team second baseman Brandon Lowe. The two are not related, and they don’t even pronounce their name the same (Nate “LOH” and Brandon “LAU”). Here’s the full trade, via MLB’s T.R. Sullivan:

  • Rangers get: 1B Nate Lowe, 1B Jake Guenther, player to be named later
  • Rays get: IF Osleivis Basabe, C/OF Heriberto Hernandez, OF Alexander Ovalles

For details on each of these players, check out Daniel Russell at DRaysBay, who notes that Lowe was blocked at his position in Tampa Bay. For thoughts on the Rangers side, check out Adam J. Morris of Lone Star Ball, who refers to Lowe as Texas’ likely starting first baseman and suggests the wisdom of the trade hinges on how you view a couple of polarizing prospects involved.

Below are Lowe’s career numbers, in 71 games (245 plate appearances), earning him 0.6 fWAR and 0.7 bWAR with neutral defensive metrics at 1B:

Lowe, 2019-20: .251/.322/.447, 106 wRC+, 11 HR, 9.0% BB, 31.8% Ks

This is the second trade made by the Rangers this week, after also sending star pitcher Lance Lynn to the Chicago White Sox. Texas received MLB-ready pitching prospect Dane Dunning in that swap, and between him and Lowe, the Rangers seem to be doing more of a win-soon retool than a full rebuild this winter, at least so far.

Comeback Player of the Year awards

The 2020 winners are NL pitcher Daniel Bard of the Colorado Rockies, and AL catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.

Bard hadn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 and had even retired from playing for a while, but he came back in 2020 and posted strong numbers for the Rockies bullpen including a 3.65 ERA, 3.64 FIP, and more than a strikeout per inning.

Perez broke a string of six straight All-Star berths (and five straight as the AL starter) when he missed all of 2019 to Tommy John surgery, rare but not unheard of for non-pitchers. He also missed part of July Summer Camp to a positive coronavirus test and part of the short 2020 season to an eye problem. But he still batted .333 with a 162 wRC+ and 11 homers in 37 games, earning First-Team honors on the All-MLB Team.

Congrats to Bard and Perez on their resurgent success and their newest awards! Click here for more info.

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