The Oakland A’s have a lot of spots to fill on their 2022 pitching staff, and now they’ve added one more candidate to the list.
The A’s claimed relief pitcher Sam Selman off waivers from the Angels, the team announced Sunday. He joins Oakland’s 40-man roster, which now stands at 35 players.
The left-handed Selman appeared in the majors each of the past three years, but it took him a long time to get there. He was drafted in 2012 by the Royals and waited until his eighth professional season to make his MLB debut, with the Giants in 2019. The next summer he was pretty good in a couple dozen games for San Francisco, during the shortened pandemic year, and then last July they traded him to the Angels at the deadline.
- Selman, MLB career: 4.77 ERA, 54⅔ ip, 52 Ks, 27 BB, 7 HR, 4.92 FIP
Those numbers might sell him a bit short. He got lit up in Anaheim at the end of last year, but before that he’d been a consistently solid performer for the Giants, where his 4.06 ERA graded slightly better than league-average (106 ERA+). In 2020 he was even better than that, with strong peripherals and sharp Statcast marks to match, and he picked up a save along the way.
- Selman, 2020 SFG: 3.72 ERA, 19⅓ ip, 23 Ks, 9 BB, 2 HR, 3.86 FIP, .269 xwOBA
Unfortunately he didn’t repeat that success in 2021, especially with the Halos, where his ERA jumped to 6.35 and his strikeout rate dipped in 18 games. Now the 31-year-old will look to get back on track in another change of scenery.
In terms of stuff, Selman uses two pitches, a four-seam fastball and a slider. The heater averages around 91 mph and has topped out at 93.7 in the majors so far, while the slider sits around 80 mph and can do a decent job missing bats. In 2020 he used that slider 60% of the time, but last year it dropped to 45% as he leaned on the fastball a bit more.
Here’s a look at some video from 2020:
A few more clips:
- An 11-minute montage of sliders
- First career strikeout in 2019, on a slider
- Striking out Max Muncy in 2020, on a slider
Pretty much all the info above would suggest that Selman is a LOOGY, but it remains to be seen if that’s the case. In his tiny-sample MLB career so far his platoon splits are even, and they were inconsistent during recent years in the minors, sometimes showing success against righty batters or lefty batters or both. The smart bet is that he’ll turn out better against lefties, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude him from being able to handle a full inning at a time, like he often did for the Giants.
Selman is an MLB-caliber lefty reliever, and the A’s got him for free, from a division rival no less. Sounds good to me!
Normally I wouldn’t brag about taking a pitcher from the Angels, but Selman appears to have been a perfectly serviceable arm for most of the last few years. Not a setup man or anything, but somebody you don’t mind having on the depth chart and using in MLB games. Teams need lots of those, and some teams pay actual resources to get them.
What’s more, the A’s have been especially short on lefties lately, so a new southpaw is a welcome sight. The top lefty reliever on the depth chart yesterday was Sam Moll, except for the odd occasion when A.J. Puk is healthy, so for now Selman takes over as Oakland’s best in that department. He’s also got a minor league option remaining, so he offers some roster flexibility if needed.
As for the rest of the bullpen, Lou Trivino and Deolis Guerra remain, though Trivino could still be dealt. Otherwise it’s wide open, with a growing list of arms to choose from but no guarantees anywhere. Domingo Acevedo is back for another try, there are a few young starters who might make more sense in relief, and some prospects getting close to debuts, plus a handful of new minor league free agents to try out.
Whether Selman pans out as a contributor or not is almost irrelevant. To build bullpen depth, you go get a dozen Selmans and hope that a few of them stick. That said, the actual Selman looks like a shrewd addition with a track record of being quite useful, and they got him for free without having to commit to any extra salary or trade any prospects.
Welcome to Oakland!