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D’Backs claim J.B. Wendelken off waivers from A’s

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JBW goes to ARZ

Oakland Athletics v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

One of the longer-tenured players on the Oakland A’s is moving on to another team.

The A’s announced Wednesday morning that reliever J.B. Wendelken was claimed off waivers by the Arizona D’Backs. The right-hander had been designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Oakland initially acquired Wendelken after the 2015 season, in exchange for Brett Lawrie. He made his MLB debut in 2016, then missed 2017 to Tommy John surgery, and returned to pitch for the A’s each year from 2018-21. He’s never played in the majors for another club.

Only three current A’s predate Wendelken’s initial arrival on the roster. Mark Canha and Chris Bassitt both started here in 2015, and Sean Manaea made his MLB debut in 2016 nine days before Wendelken did, and that’s the whole list. Chad Pinder and Matt Olson didn’t debut until later in 2016, and Jed Lowrie doesn’t count because he left and came back. Granted, Wendelken didn’t stay in the majors nonstop during that span, spending some time in the minors and even being waived and outrighted off-roster at one point, but he remained in the organization throughout.

  • Wendelken, career: 3.62 ERA, 112 ip, 117 Ks, 47 BB, 10 HR, 3.57 FIP, .280 xwOBA

That’s a quality stat line, and he also converted 7-of-9 holds when given the chance (and one of those blown saves wasn’t his fault). Over just the past three seasons, he inherited 49 runners and allowed only 27% to score, which is better than league-average.

Unfortunately, relief pitching is a world of “what have you done for me lately,” and Wendelken hadn’t done enough in 2021. He missed two months to a strained oblique, and when healthy he was uncharacteristically inconsistent all season. With Oakland’s bullpen seeming to get better every week lately (Sergio Romo improvement, Andrew Chafin acquisition, A.J. Puk callup), there wasn’t enough room for everybody and Wendelken was the odd man out.

Best of luck to JBW in Arizona! There are some teams in that NL West division we wouldn’t mind seeing him beat.

Zero days

The departure of Wendelken means we need to update the Josh Donaldson trade tree. Sorry.

None of the players Oakland got for Donaldson are still here, but they did flip one of them (Lawrie) for two prospects. One was Wendelken, who is now gone. The other is lefty reliever Zack Erwin, who is still in the organization and pitching well for the Double-A Midland RockHounds (albeit at age 27). The tree lives on! It ain’t over till it’s over.

In related news, Sean Nolin was one of the four players the A’s received directly for Donaldson, but he only pitched six games for Oakland in 2015 and hasn’t returned to the majors since. Until now! The Washington Nationals called him up Wednesday, bringing the 31-year-old back to the Show after a long journey through injuries, independent ball, and a season in Japan. Congrats to Nolin!