A lot of players come through the Bay Area to suit up with the Oakland A’s, which means the majors tend to be littered with familiar names who once wore green and gold.
With the 2021 season just a couple days away, there’s a flurry of updates around MLB as teams finalize their Opening Day rosters. Let’s check in on some former A’s!
Gio Gonzalez retires
First up we have a notable retirement, as Gio Gonzalez is hanging up his spikes after 13 seasons in the majors, at age 35.
Oakland acquired the lefty in 2008 as a part of a package for Nick Swisher, and he made his MLB debut that summer for the A’s. He eventually worked his way into the rotation and made the All-Star team in 2011, then was traded to the Nationals. He spent seven years in Washington, earning another All-Star nod as well as third- and sixth-place finishes for Cy Young, plus several postseason appearances. He wrapped up with quick tours for the Brewers and White Sox, and then one final attempt to catch on with his hometown Miami Marlins this spring.
Gonzalez, career: 3.70 ERA (111 ERA+), 1933 ip, 1860 Ks, 3.68 FIP
All of that added up to 30.1 bWAR or 32.1 fWAR, which is up there at the Hall of Very Good level. He finished with a 131-101 record. In the playoffs, he had a 4.91 ERA in eight starts, but no decisions. Even before reaching the majors, as a highly valued prospect, he was traded in separate deals for stars including Jim Thome, Freddy Garcia, and Swisher.
Gio mentioned the A’s in his announcement:
“The Oakland A’s who gave me my first career win, who showed me [unconditional] love from the clubhouse, the staff who worked at the stadium and most important the incredible fans that stood by us in our good and bad seasons, the reporters who took the time to get to know me! THANK YOU!”
Thanks for all the wins and memories, Gio!
Face of Chicago
The Chicago Cubs’ roster got a bit smarter this year, by adding some Nerd Power.
Infielder Eric Sogard played for the Brewers last year, and split 2019 between the Blue Jays and Rays. He last played for the A’s in 2015, and since then he’s racked up another 3-4 WAR in around 300 games.
In like a Brave, out like a Pale Hose
The A’s said goodbye to eight free agents last winter, and one of them was Jake Lamb, who played 17 games in green and gold between the season and playoffs as a late injury replacement. Lamb came into March like a Brave, and went out like a White Sox. Sock?
Lamb signed with the Atlanta Braves entering spring training, but he didn’t make their team and was cut loose. He cleared waivers and was picked up by Chicago, against whom he played in the Wild Card Series last fall.
He got a major league deal from the White Sox, so presumably that means he’ll be on the Opening Day roster along with recent teammate Liam Hendriks. They’ll be under the guidance of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who was running the Arizona D’Backs front office while Lamb was an All-Star slugger there.
Speaking of Hendriks
May as well check in with our former AL Reliever of the Year and All-Star closer, as weird as it is to see him in another uniform after a half-decade in green and gold.
Liam Hendriks, Fastball...and K Strut. pic.twitter.com/8aNdjqEFzd— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 26, 2021
Don’t worry, Trevor Rosenthal is going to be awesome too.
Liam Hendriks, Wicked Knuckle Curve...and lets everyone know it. pic.twitter.com/wZVzDR0BTd— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 28, 2021
Think of how incredible it is that the A’s lost that pitcher above, and still might have improved their bullpen overall.
When the White Sox added Lamb, it meant they needed to cut somebody to make room. They chose reliever Nik Turley, whom they had just claimed off waivers from the A’s a week ago. OK fine I was wrong about Turley.
White Sox announced they’ve signed Jake Lamb to a major league deal and DFA’d Nik Turley to clear 40-man space. Move clears the road for José Ruiz as the eighth man in the pen— James Fegan (@JRFegan) March 30, 2021
That’s not even the first former Athletic let go by the White Sox this spring, as catcher Jonathan Lucroy also didn’t make the team.
Jonathan Lucroy didn’t make the stacked White Sox despite .478 obp this spring. Looking for MLB deal. Good chance to find one.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 29, 2021
There are so many marketable former A’s out there, other teams can’t even drop one without picking up another!
A few other former A’s were let go by their teams, including another of last winter’s free agents in reliever T.J. McFarland. He signed a minor league deal with the Nats but didn’t make the roster.
Among today’s moves, the Nationals announced the release of T.J. McFarland and the reassignment of Javy Guerra to minor league camp. Notably absent from the list: Luis Avilán. The left hander seems poised to join the bullpen. But Nats will have to open a 40-man spot for him— Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) March 27, 2021
A couple more familiar names.
Updates on some former A's farmhands:— Athletics Farm (@AthleticsFarm) March 30, 2021
CIN RHP Brandon Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery
RHP Dakota Bacus DFA'd by WAS
C Beau Taylor DFA'd by CLE
RHP Michael Ynoa released by PHI
SS Richie Martin optioned to AAA by BAL
3B Sheldon Neuse optioned to AAA by LAD
Renato did not use his opt-out, and will stay in Detroit’s organization.
A.J. Hinch has informed Renato Nunez he won’t break camp with the team. Nunez has an opt out but the Tigers hope he’ll stay with the org.— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) March 27, 2021
Victor Reyes, Akil Baddoo and Harold Castro all make the team. The 26-man roster is set.
Hopefully all of these former A’s can find their way back to the majors!
If Nuñez does find his way up to Detroit, then perhaps he’ll share a lineup with Robbie Grossman. The outfielder had a breakout 2020 in Oakland, then signed with the Tigers as a free agent.
You think Robbie Grossman is ready for the season to start? pic.twitter.com/M9ddnO0f5M— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) March 24, 2021
Finally, saving the best for last, it appears Marcus Semien is fitting in well with his new Toronto Blue Jays teammates.
Marcus Semien is said to have been a great add for Jays infield and clubhouse mix. They obviously paid a big price ($18M) on 1-year deal but it’s looking like a wise move.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 23, 2021
Best of luck to Semien in Toronto, and may his Jays take down the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East!