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Oakland A’s activate Daniel Mengden, then DFA him

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Good news and bad news for the righty pitcher

MLB: JUL 12 Athletics Summer Camp Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sunday brought good news and bad news for Oakland A’s pitcher Daniel Mengden.

Good news! He was activated from the injured list, after sitting out all of September due to a positive test for coronavirus.

Bad News! The A’s ran out of room for him on their roster, and upon his activation he was immediately designated for assignment.

Oakland’s 40-man roster remains full, plus two more pitchers who don’t count toward the total because they’re on the 45-day IL (A.J. Puk and Burch Smith). They do have another injured player who could go on the 45-day, as Matt Chapman is already ruled out for the year, but they’ll save that last bit of potential roster flexibility for now.

At the end of August, Mengden tested positive for coronavirus, causing the whole team to take a few days off to make sure nobody else had caught it — and fortunately, they hadn’t. Mengden himself was placed on the IL on Sept. 3 and went into isolation at his own home, and never showed any symptoms, reports Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle. He was eventually cleared to return to action and did so Friday at the team’s San Jose alternate site, reports insider Martin Gallegos.

Now he’ll go through waivers, and we’ll find out in the next few days whether he was claimed by another team, or traded, or went unclaimed and elected to stay in Oakland’s farm, or was released, or some other possibilities.

The 27-year-old right-hander never quite found a permanent spot with the A’s, in parts of the last five seasons. He offered plenty of potential as a prospect but never stuck long-term as an MLB starter, including multiple instances when he’d begin stringing together good starts but then get hurt. Between the spotty health and inconsistent performance, he only averaged around 60 innings per year, including only once in triple-digits (2018) and barely a dozen frames this summer.

Mengden, career: 4.64 ERA, 302⅔ ip, 224 Ks, 102 BB, 42 HR, 4.58 FIP

Along the way he threw two shutouts, in an age when the shutout is a nearly completely lost art. Both versions of WAR have him in the 2-3 range overall for his career, in around two full seasons’ worth of swingman workload. Most of his work came as a starter, including 80% of his appearances, and even some of the relief work was as the bulk long-man following a bullpen opener.

The A’s acquired Mengden back in 2015 as part of the Scott Kazmir trade, bringing along his Rollie Fingers-style handlebar mustache, funky windup, and reputation as a bulldog on the mound. He’d never pitched above High-A at the time of the deal, but he debuted in the majors within a calendar year afterward. However, after years of bouncing back and forth between Triple-A, he’s out of minor league options, so this might be the end of the road for him in Oakland’s organization under most of the possible outcomes of his DFA.

Best of luck to Mengden wherever he ends up!