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Pirates claim Ka’ai Tom off waivers from A’s


MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Last winter, Ka’ai Tom set sail from Cleveland to the Oakland A’s. But this week he found himself back out at sea floating on waivers, and there he was picked up by the Pirates.

The A’s designated Tom for assignment on Tuesday, and he was claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the team announced.

Tom came to Oakland as a Rule 5 draft pick over the offseason, meaning he needed to stay on the MLB roster and couldn’t be sent down to the minors. He did make the team out of spring but was eventually squeezed out after a slow April, sending him to the waiver wire. There he was claimed by Pittsburgh, who also inherits his Rule 5 status and must similarly keep him in the majors the rest of the year if they want to hold on to him.

If he were to have cleared waivers, then he would have been offered back to his original team, the Indians, and that will still be the case if he is waived again before the end of this season. The lefty ranked No. 15 on our Community Prospect List after his arrival, and among his strengths he offers a blend of on-base skills, speed, and defense.

  • Tom, 2021: 1-for-16, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 1 RBI, .152 xwOBA

This is the second time this year that an A’s outfielder has been DFA’d only to wind up in Pittsburgh. In February the rebuilding Pirates claimed Dustin Fowler off waivers, and Oakland worked out a trade for cash considerations. Fowler has played 17 games this year for his new team, and is batting .171 with a 27 wRC+ and 44% strikeout rate through 46 plate appearances.

The book is now closed on the A’s 2020 Rule 5 class, from last December’s draft. In the 1st round they chose Tom from Cleveland, and he has now moved on to Pittsburgh. In the 2nd round they chose righty reliever Dany Jimenez from the Blue Jays, but they returned him to Toronto during spring training. Oakland didn’t lose any players in the MLB phase of the draft last winter.

While it didn’t yield any keepers this year, the Rule 5 draft has helped the A’s in the recent past. Just on the current active roster, Mark Canha and Vimael Machin both arrived via Rule 5 and stayed in the majors long enough to become permanent members of the organization.