The Oakland A’s made a final transaction before cementing their Opening Day roster on Thursday, activating pitcher Daniel Mengden from the 60-day injured list. To make room on the 40-man roster, fellow pitcher Daniel Gossett was designated for assignment.
In an unrelated move, rookie pitcher A.J. Puk was officially placed on the 10-day injured list due to a shoulder strain, retroactive to Monday. Click here to see Oakland’s full Opening Day roster.
Under normal circumstances, Mengden would have missed the beginning of the 2020 season. He had minor surgery on his elbow in February and was placed on the 60-day IL at that time, officially ruling out a return before mid-April at the very earliest, with his realistic timetable even longer than that. However, with the campaign being delayed four months by the coronavirus pandemic, he was able to fully recover well before games started.
The right-hander’s presence is particularly important right now, as he’s needed as an emergency replacement in the rotation. With Puk getting hurt last weekend and out for at least a few weeks, and fellow rookie Jesus Luzardo still getting up to speed after missing time quarantining due to a positive virus test, Mengden and Chris Bassitt are stepping into the starting five to begin the year. Mengden, who is out of minor league options, presumably would have made the team anyway in a bullpen/swingman role, but now his job duties have increased.
Mengden, 2019: 4.83 ERA, 59⅔ ip, 42 Ks, 27 BB, 7 HR, 4.69 FIP
In addition to the clean bill of health — and the new job in the rotation — the 27-year-old Mengden has also grown back his signature mustache after shaving it during the offseason. He also used his time off to work on his mechanics and is now armed with a smoother, more repeatable delivery.
As for Gossett, he’s been in the organization since he was drafted in 2014, and made his MLB debut in 2017. After getting hit hard in his early experiences in the majors, the right-hander went down with Tommy John surgery in ‘18 and missed all of last summer recovering. He finally got back on the mound late last year in the Arizona Fall League.
Gossett, 2017-18 MLB: 5.91 ERA, 115⅔ ip, 84 Ks, 39 BB, 26 HR, 5.67 FIP
We’ll learn Gossett’s fate over the next week or so. Among other possibilities, he could be traded, or claimed by another team on waivers, or pass through waivers and accept an assignment back to the A’s minor league system (or be released and become a free agent). It’s possible he could remain in the organization, especially since other teams are also using this moment to trim down their own rosters and thus few may have space for a new pickup who missed 2019 to injury, but for now he’s off Oakland’s 40-man roster and out of their 60-man player pool.
Meanwhile, Puk strained his shoulder in the spring but recovered during the shutdown, and last weekend he felt discomfort in the same shoulder. At last update on Tuesday, he had received a cortisone shot and was resting for a couple days.