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Elephant Rumblings: Eric Campbell among 6 additions to A’s player pool

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Oakland Athletics v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The Oakland A’s 60-man player pool for the 2020 season is now full, after the team announced six more additions on Wednesday. Five of them were prospects who had already been previously reported by the beat writers, but there was one new name on the list — veteran infielder Eric Campbell.

When the A’s traded away infield prospect Jorge Mateo this week, his departure opened up a spot in the player pool. Campbell got the call to fill it, giving the A’s another bit of MLB-capable depth around the horn. The 33-year-old has played 196 games in the majors, all for the Mets, though none since 2016.

Campbell has a skill set that is basically the opposite of Mateo’s. On defense he mostly plays the corners at 1B/3B (plus a little LF/RF), though he’s at least dabbled up the middle and even played two games at 2B in the majors. With the bat his top skill is his plate discipline, helping him post huge OBP marks in Triple-A while keeping the strikeouts down. He doesn’t bring much power, but he produces enough for a career 138 wRC+ in 1,880 plate appearances at Triple-A over the years (and he’s been consistently great there every year).

Campbell, AAA career: .310/.417/.480, 138 wRC+, 45 HR, 14.0% BB, 15.1% Ks

After being drafted by the Mets and spending nearly a decade in their system, Campbell went to Japan for 2017. He came back to the states the next year in the Marlins system, then signed with the A’s as a minor league free agent and played 2019 for the Las Vegas Aviators. For the Aviators he blasted a career-high 16 homers that almost matched his best two seasons combined, though that could be attributed at least in part to the extreme hitting environment in both Vegas and around the Pacific Coast League overall — everyone there turned into a slugger last summer.

The right-handed batter made his MLB debut for New York in 2014, and held his own for 85 games. But he took steps backward the next two years in limited duty, and hasn’t been back to the Show since. In 505 plate appearances:

Campbell, MLB career: .221/.312/.311, 80 wRC+, 7 HR, 10.5% BB, 23.0% Ks

Put it all together and you’ve got a solid depth backup player. He’s completely mastered Triple-A pitching over an unmistakably large sample size (albeit all of it coming at age 26 and above), and he brings some defensive versatility. That last part is especially useful because his main positions happen to be the homes of two of the A’s biggest stars.

Most minor league free agent depth signings never make it to the majors nor even the 40-man roster, but it’s not unusual to see one do so. Last year alone we saw pitchers Brian Schlitter and Wei-Chung Wang, catcher Nick Hundley, and minor league Rule 5 draft pick infielder Corban Joseph all play for Oakland. This year Campbell is joined on the non-roster infield depth chart by Ryan Goins and Nate Orf, who we’ll talk more about soon in a longer post. For now, click here (and scroll to the bottom) to see the current 60-man player pool.

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