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Cristian Pache will make Opening Day roster

Outfielder was acquired in Matt Olson trade

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Dodgers
Welcome to Oakland!
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Oakland A’s have a slew of new prospects from their recent rebuilding trades, and one of the top names is coming straight to the majors this week.

Outfielder Cristian Pache was informed that he has made the Opening Day roster, reports team insider Martin Gallegos on Monday morning.

The A’s acquired Pache from the Braves last month in the Matt Olson trade. His scouting report revolves around elite defense in center field, enhanced by blazing speed and a cannon arm. His fielding gets a rare 80-grade, a top-of-the-scale distinction reserved for the absolute best of the best, and he showed off that jaw-dropping ability repeatedly throughout the spring.

His bat is a bigger question and doesn’t carry the same high ceiling. The 23-year-old has some power but must prove he can make enough contact to use it, and the reasonable expectation for now should be a below-average hitter with the upside to be decent. This spring he made some loud contact but batted .188 with 10 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances, which was reminiscent of his brief MLB action last summer in Atlanta, and in Triple-A his line was exactly league-average.

  • Pache, 2021 AAA: .265/.330/.414, 100 wRC+, 11 HR, 8.5% BB, 27.5% Ks
  • Pache, 2021 MLB: 7-for-63 (.111), 1 HR, 2 BB, 25 Ks

In other words, we’re talking about a glove-first CF, but oh what a glove it is, hopefully a golden one. If his defensive metrics match his talent, they could be worth several WAR on their own in full-time duty, even if he doesn’t hit much at all.

All of that helped Pache earn the No. 4 spot on the A’s latest prospect list according to MLB Pipeline, and now he’ll get his first chance to shine in Oakland. His path to the Opening Day roster was especially clear because incumbent CF Ramon Laureano is out for the first 27 games of the season while he finishes a PED suspension, so Pache’s primary position was wide open for April anyway.

This won’t be his first trip to the majors, though. He debuted in 2020 for a couple games, then stepped up for the entire NLCS that fall, hitting a homer off Julio Urias of the Dodgers in that series. Last summer he played 22 games for the Braves, including a dinger off former A’s hurler Tommy Milone, but he wasn’t called on for any at-bats during the club’s championship postseason run.

It might be a long season in Oakland, as they rebuild from scratch toward a new era. But at the very least, we can look forward to watching Pache churn out a defensive highlight reel for the ages. Welcome to the A’s!