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Julio Teheran returns for Angels; Rockies make roster moves

News on the Oakland A’s first two opponents of 2020

MLB: FEB 18 Los Angeles Angels Photo Day Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the Oakland A’s begin their 2020 season on July 24, the first two opponents they’ll face are the Angels and Rockies. Both teams made news on Friday.

Angels

For the Angels, starting pitcher Julio Teheran finally joined training camp after a coronavirus-related delay, reports Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register. The 29-year-old right-hander signed with the Angels for $9 million last winter after a solid and durable seven-year run with the Braves, and he’s one of the better arms in the Halos’ rotation plans. He makes 30+ starts every year, and more often than not posts an ERA significantly lower than league average, including last summer.

While Teheran is cleared for duty, that doesn’t necessarily mean the A’s will see him next weekend, or at least not in a starting capacity. Like with their own Jesus Luzardo, Teheran is getting a late start to training with his team, and it could take time to stretch out toward full-length outings.

The Angels also got some bad news on Friday, as they announced that reliever Justin Anderson will undergo Tommy John surgery. The right-hander threw over 100 innings for the club over the last two seasons combined, but will now miss all of 2020 and most or all of 2021.

Rockies

As for the Rockies, they made a couple moves and previewed some more. Relief pitchers Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee were released, and reliever Daniel Bard, utilityman Chris Owings, and outfielder Matt Kemp will all be on the Opening Day roster, reports insider Thomas Harding.

Shaw and McGee are both formerly successful setup men who earned matching three-year, $27 million contracts entering 2018. However, they were both flops in Colorado, a place notorious for being tough on pitchers. McGee managed to maintain a decent ERA last year despite a massive homer rate, but Shaw’s was over 5.00 both seasons in the mountains. They’ll receive their prorated 2020 salaries, plus $2 million buyouts on their 2021 options.

Those subtractions will help Colorado make room for the trio of new veterans, who aren’t on the 40-man roster yet and will need to be added before Opening Day next week. All three arrived on minor league contracts last winter.

The biggest name is Kemp, who was once an MVP-level talent. He’s now 35 and has declined from that peak, but his right-handed bat still has some life and he was an All-Star as recently as 2018 before missing most of last summer. His defense is poor but the Rockies now have a DH spot to work with, and they lost a prime candidate when Ian Desmond opted out of the season. Kemp could be an option at DH, though Harding implies in his column that Daniel Murphy will also see time there.

If Murphy does slide from first base to DH, then it will open up a spot in the infield, making room in the picture for Owings. Second baseman Ryan McMahon would shift to first, and Owings would be one of a few candidates to fill in at the keystone, along with top prospects Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson. Owings was once a top prospect himself for Arizona, but his bat never got going in the majors and he was particularly ineffective the last two seasons. The 28-year-old righty isn’t a slugger, but at his best he can hit for a high average, spray extra-base hits, and steal some bags, and he increases his value with the ability to play six positions on defense.

On the pitching side, Bard returns to the majors for the first time since 2013. Once considered an upcoming stud with the Red Sox on the strength of triple-digit velocity, his career stalled suddenly in his late-20s due to injuries and a case of the yips. He kicked around the minors for a while but hasn’t pitched in the pros since 2017. Now age 35, and still dialing his fastball up to the mid-90s, the right-hander has completed one of the more incredible comebacks in recent memory and will get his first crack at the majors in seven years.

We’ll take a closer look at the full Rockies team as their series against the A’s approaches, but these are three interesting veteran names who have been added to the mix.

Other AL West

A few more notes on the A’s other division rivals:

  • Astros RHP Joe Smith was placed on the restricted list Wednesday, as he decides whether to opt out of the season. (Link) RHP Jose Urquidy and DH Yordan Alvarez are also absent from camp, and were placed on the 10-day injured list Monday. (Link)
  • Mariners with three injuries and health issues: RHP Gerson Bautista is out with a flexor strain (link), RHP Yoshihisa Hirano hasn’t yet reported to camp and is now on the 10-day IL (link), and teenage top prospect OF Julio Rodriguez fractured his left wrist (link).
  • Rangers OF Joey Gallo rejoined the team last Saturday after initially being held out due to a positive coronavirus test. He never showed any symptoms. (Link) On the downside, C Robinson Chirinos and OF Willie Calhoun are each dealing with injuries that could limit them in the early going, and in Calhoun’s case even keep him out briefly. (Link)

In the NL West, who will also cross paths with Oakland this year, the Padres acquired lefty reliever Tim Hill from the Royals on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Dodgers welcomed closer Kenley Jansen back to camp after overcoming a coronavirus positive (link).