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:
Honestly, Tom should have gotten a chance last year, he did not and I could see him sticking with the A's easily. He plays all three spots and hits at every stop. He isn't the best athlete and is way undersized, which has been the knocks but he just kept performing.— Jeffmlbdraft (@jeffMLBdraft) December 10, 2020
And more from A’s insider Martin Gallegos:
Ka’ai Tom doesn’t necessarily consider himself a power hitter but more of a guy who can spray line drives all over the field. Made an adjustment at the plate with his hands in 2019 that led to a big increase in extra-base hits.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) December 10, 2020
As for Jimenez, Gallegos relays the following:
A's like Dany Jimenez's 98 mph fastball and good slider. Feinstein says they've identified things they can tweak with his mechanics that could help him really take advantage of his stuff. Will be competing for a bullpen spot this Spring.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) December 10, 2020
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.
- Coffey: GM David Forst on the A’s offseason so far and what’s left to do ($$$)
- Lockard: How A’s Rule 5 picks Ka’ai Tom and Dany Jiménez fit into their roster plans ($$$)
- AN: A’s select OF Ka’ai Tom and RHP Dany Jimenez in 2020 MLB Rule 5 draft
- AN: You’d have a screw loose not to love the Lansing Lugnuts theme song
- AN: Liam Hendriks named to 2020 All-MLB First-Team
MLB News & Interest
- 2020 Rule 5 Draft results, pick by pick
- Casella: Bard, Salvy win Comeback Players of Year
- Sullivan: Texas adds 1B Lowe in 6-player trade with TB
- Morris: Thoughts on the Nate Lowe trade
- Russell: Rays trade Nate Lowe to Texas Rangers for three prospects
- Russell: Rays owner Stuart Sternberg offers stinging criticism of Rays, players following World Series loss
- MLBTR Poll: Grading The Lance Lynn Trade
- Today in Baseball History
Best of Twitter
RIP to an old Philadelphia A’s player
Billy DeMars was one of six living former Philadelphia Athletics. The five remaining players are Art Ditmar, Bill Wilson, Bill Harrington, Bobby Shantz and Eddie Robinson, who turns 100 on Tuesday. https://t.co/21Tx9tBeQl— Mike Selleck (@MikeSelleck) December 11, 2020
Good news on Puk! Though you have to wonder what the realistic chance is of him starting long-term, as opposed to moving to the bullpen.
A.J. Puk is progressing well from surgery. Forst counts him among the A’s starting rotation members along with Montas, Luzardo, Bassitt and Manaea.— Martín Gallegos (@MartinJGallegos) December 9, 2020
... Even better news on Luzardo
MLB age-22 strikeout leaders:— Codify, Inc. (@CodifyBaseball) December 11, 2020
'07: Matt Cain
'08: King Felix
'09: Tommy Hanson
'11: Michael Pineda
'16: McCullers Jr.
'17: German Marquez
'20: Jesus Luzardo@Baby_Jesus9 @lmccullers43 pic.twitter.com/yGKY79f1rM
Extra note on “Blaze” Tom
Among the delights of meeting Ka’ai Tom on a Zoom call - he does indeed go by both Blaze and Ka’ai, and that’s tremendous. And he said, “Anyhoo...” at one point.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 10, 2020
A new slugger on the international market
OF Sung-Bum Na has been officially posted by the NC Dinos. 6 time All-Star. 2 time Gold Glove winner. Lifetime .317/.384/.542 hitter.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2020
The Raisel Iglesias trade is now complete. Rivas spent most of 2019 in High-A at age 21.
Today the Angels sent INF Leo Rivas to the Reds as the Player to be Named Later in Monday’s trade for RHP Raisel Iglesias. https://t.co/2ZoWyGPXJe— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) December 10, 2020
... The Angels also got some money in the deal, though it turns out it’s not enough to make Iglesias a not-expensive acquisition.
The Reds sent $900,000 to the Angels as part of the Raisel Iglesias trade, per source. Iglesias is set to earn $9.125 million in 2021.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 10, 2020
Are you pumped up for the Lugnuts yet?!?!