The Oakland A’s aren’t in a hurry to make any moves this winter, but a few of their former pitchers have found new homes.
First up is Daniel Mengden, who played for the A’s in 2020 but was cut from the roster at the end of the year and became a free agent. The right-hander is in talks with the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), and while a deal isn’t official yet, it was described as “close” on Monday.
If Mengden were to sign with the Tigers, he’d be reunited with manager Matt Williams, who was an A’s coach in 2018-19. He’d also join forces with former A’s pitcher/teammate Aaron Brooks, who enjoyed a breakout in Korea this past year and ranked among the best starters in the league. Brooks re-signed with the Tigers for 2021.
In parts of five seasons in Oakland from 2016-20, the mustachioed Mengden threw over 300 innings with a 4.64 ERA (4.58 FIP). He never found long-term consistency in the majors and his overall 90 ERA+ is worse than league average, but he was impressive when he was on his game, including tossing a pair of shutouts — one each in 2017 and 2018.
Meanwhile, another former A’s hurler is on his way out of the KBO. Raul Alcantara starred for the Doosan Bears in 2020, leading the entire league in wins with a lofty 20-2 record and backing it up with a 2.54 ERA that measured roughly half of the league’s 4.76 average. (He also played in the KBO in 2019, for the KT Wiz). Now Alcantara moves to Japan, where he signed with the Hanshin Tigers of the NPB for 2021, reports Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.
The right-hander was a top A’s prospect for many years and briefly pitched in the majors for Oakland in 2016-17, but each year he posted an ERA over 7.00 in a couple dozen innings. Now he’s found his stride in Asia, and he’ll try another new field of competition next season.
Yet another former A’s pitcher had a dominant showing in the KBO this year, and he’s staying put for another go-around. Dan Straily was arguably even better than Alcantara in 2020, with a virtually identical 2.50 ERA plus the league lead in strikeouts (205, or 9.5 K/9) while pitching for the Lotte Giants. He re-signed for $1.2 million, which is similar to what Brooks will make on the Tigers.
Finally, there’s one more familiar name headed to one more different league, as Dillon Overton signed with the Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) in Taiwan. The left-hander was drafted by the A’s in 2013 and reached the majors in 2016, but couldn’t stick after nearly 50 innings for Oakland, Seattle, and San Diego over two seasons.
The 2020 Monkeys featured a former teammate of Overton’s. Fellow southpaw Brandon Mann briefly crossed paths with him in the A’s minor league system (Triple-A in 2016), though I wasn’t able to find whether Mann will be on the Monkeys again in ‘21 alongside Overton.
Fun facts: CPL History
In preseason 2016, our Athletics Nation Community Prospect List included Overton (No. 10), Alcantara (No. 14), and Mengden (No. 15).
The year before that, Overton was No. 5 and Alcantara No. 9.
Alcantara peaked at No. 3 in 2014 (and technically No. 1 after the names above him were traded midseason), while Straily was voted No. 2 in 2013.
Congrats to all on their success overseas, and best of luck in 2021!