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A’s option catcher Austin Allen to Triple-A

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Allen is out of the spring training competition for backup catcher

2021 Spring Training: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Oakland Athletics Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s backup catcher job still isn’t officially settled, but the competition took a critical step forward on Wednesday.

The A’s optioned Austin Allen to Triple-A, the team announced.

The 27-year-old Allen is one of three catchers on Oakland’s 40-man roster, along with primary starter Sean Murphy and fellow backup candidate Aramis Garcia. The elimination of Allen from consideration for the Opening Day 26-man active roster gives Garcia a clear inside track to winning the spot.

However, there are still two more non-roster invitee backstops in spring camp, in Carlos Perez and Francisco Peña, and the team has talked about Perez in particular as being a realistic part of the Cactus League battle. Manager Bob Melvin said the following about optioning Allen, per Alex Coffey of The Athletic:

“Well, we just got to a point where we knew it would be one of the other two guys [Garcia or Perez], and some of these guys aren’t getting at-bats, and we’re trying to streamline things before we go. So it’s just part of that process.”

For his part, the lefty-hitting Allen went 6-for-23 this spring, with a homer, a walk, seven strikeouts, and an .813 OPS. He’s a bat-first catcher with power at the plate but questions on defense, who was acquired from the Padres two winters ago in the Jurickson Profar trade. He spent about a month in the majors with the A’s in 2020, totaling 32 plate appearances and hitting his first career dinger.

Hot takes

We talked about backup catchers on Monday here at Athletics Nation, and I guessed Garcia to win the job. The community agreed in a Garcia vs. Allen poll, with 66% of the 430 respondents picking Garcia.

Technically Garcia hasn’t yet won the job, as the official word is Perez is still in the running. My hunch is Perez is unlikely, because he would require a significant roster move. Jed Lowrie is surely taking the open 40th spot, and right now there’s nobody who appears headed for the 60-day injured list (knock on wood), which means somebody would have to be DFA’d in order to fit the extravagance of a fourth catcher. (Unless one of Allen or Garcia is the DFA, which nobody is currently expecting or predicting.)

Most likely, Aramis Garcia will be the A’s second catcher on Opening Day. By this point next week, we’ll know for certain, one way or other.

Spring roster update

The A’s made their second round of cuts on Sunday, sending down nine players. Since then, they also lost LHP Nik Turley on waivers, and cut IF Jacob Wilson down to the minors, in addition to optioning Allen.

Players in —italics are non-roster invitees, meaning they’re either CPL prospects or minor league free agent depth. Players in strikethrough have been cut from major league camp, but are still in the organization. Players with asterisks** can’t be optioned to the minors, either because they’re out of options or they’re Rule 5 draft picks.

Oakland A's spring camp (37)
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)
—Paul Blackburn (R)
—Parker Dunshee (R)
—Brian Howard (R)
—Trey Supak (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)
—Domingo Acevedo (R)
—Cristian Alvarado (R)
—Argenis Angulo (R)
—Matt Blackham (R)
—Ben Bracewell (R)
—Montana DuRapau (R)
—Reymin Guduan (L)
—Deolis Guerra (R)
—Brian Schlitter (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Austin Allen (L)
Aramis Garcia (R)
—Kyle McCann (L)
—Francisco Peña (R)
—Carlos Perez (R)
—Tyler Soderstrom (L)


Infielders

Matt Chapman (R)
Matt Olson (L)
Elvis Andrus (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Tony Kemp (L)**
Vimael Machin (L)
DH: Mitch Moreland (L)
—Nick Allen (R)
—Pete Kozma (R)
—Jed Lowrie (S)
—Frank Schwindel (R)
—Jacob Wilson (R)


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)
—Buddy Reed (S)
—Cody Thomas (L)