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White Sox claim Nik Turley off waivers from A’s

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The lefty won’t make the A’s bullpen in 2021

Cincinnati Reds v Oakland Athletics Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s Opening Day bullpen picture got slightly clearer on Sunday.

The Chicago White Sox announced that they’ve claimed relief pitcher Nik Turley from the A’s. The left-hander had been on Oakland’s 40-man roster, meaning there is now an open spot.

The A’s acquired Turley from the Pirates in November, at a time when their bullpen was nearly empty after a free agent exodus. However, they made several moves late in the offseason to add a new crew of experienced veterans, and apparently they ran out of space for the 31-year-old.

The southpaw had mediocre results in his first full season for Pittsburgh in 2020, but excellent underlying peripherals that suggest possible upside. But his Cactus League performance this month did not help his case, as he appeared in five games and allowed runs in four of them.

Turley, spring: 4⅓ ip, 10 runs, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 4 HR, 10 hits

This move might be the final domino in the A’s spring bullpen competition. Oakland already returned Rule 5 draft pick Dany Jimenez, and earlier Sunday they optioned Jordan Weems to Triple-A and reassigned most of the rest of their NRI relievers.

That leaves Lou Trivino and Burch Smith as the likely candidates for the final two bullpen spots, unless the A’s carry a sixth starter as a long reliever. If they do go that latter route, then Trivino and Smith both have options and either could be sent down to the minors. There are also two NRI relievers remaining in camp, both with MLB experience, in lefty Reymin Guduan and righty Deolis Guerra.

The newly opened 40-man roster spot will come in handy soon if the team chooses to put second baseman Jed Lowrie on the Opening Day roster, as he is currently an NRI.

Hot takes

Welp. I was certain Turley would make the team out of camp. His 2020 peripherals were awesome, I don’t care about spring stats, you can never have too many lefties, and there was still space even after all the February acquisitions. Apparently whatever the A’s saw this month overshadowed whatever they hoped to see when they got him last November.

But I won’t get too down on myself, because in the course of being wrong about Turley I was still right about something else. All spring I’ve pointed out that there are 22 (or more) pitchers on the 40-man, and that number is going to come down closer to 20 by Opening Day. If this roster spot does go to Lowrie, then they’ll be at 21 pitchers and 19 hitters, which is within the range of normal. Yay me?

I just figured the balance would come when someone got hurt, which is often how it goes, but darn, everybody stayed healthy, that’s fine too. Only Mike Fiers has an injury among the pitching staff, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going on the 60-day IL anytime soon considering he’s already throwing. Of course something could still happen before April 1, and we’ve seen the A’s lose multiple arms in the final days of the Cactus League before, but for now the line held and the clock ran out on Turley.

One final note in my defense is that it’s not like Turley got released to go sit on his couch. He was picked up by the White Sox, another top contender with a loaded pen. The difference is they had an injury this week, losing Jimmy Cordero for the year. If Turley makes their Opening Day roster then I’m counting it as a half-win that he belongs in the majors on a good team, even if it didn’t turn out to be our good team, winky tongue-sticking-out emoji.

Roster update

The updated 40-man roster, with 39 names and one open spot. Players in —italics haven’t yet debuted in MLB, and those with asterisks** notably can’t be sent down to the minors because they’re either out of options or they’re Rule 5 picks.

Oakland A's 40-man roster (39)
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)
Jesus Luzardo (L)
Sean Manaea (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Mike Fiers (R)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
A.J. Puk (L)
Cole Irvin (L)
James Kaprielian (R)
—Grant Holmes (R)

Relievers

Trevor Rosenthal (R)
Jake Diekman (L)
Yusmeiro Petit (R)
Sergio Romo (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)
J.B. Wendelken (R)**
Burch Smith (R)
Lou Trivino (R)
Jordan Weems (R)
—Wandisson Charles (R)
—Miguel Romero (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Austin Allen (L)
Aramis Garcia (R)

Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Elvis Andrus (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Tony Kemp (L)**
Vimael Machin (L)
DH: Mitch Moreland (L)

Outfielders

Mark Canha (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
—Ka'ai Tom (L)**
Seth Brown (L)
Skye Bolt (S)
—Luis Barrera (L)
—Greg Deichmann (L)