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A’s roster moves: Jonah Bride called up, Kevin Smith sent down

Bride makes his MLB debut!

Oakland Athletics v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The rebuilding Oakland A’s have brought up their next prospect!

The A’s called up catcher/infielder Jonah Bride on Tuesday, the team announced. The promotion was expected after an early report yesterday by Melissa Lockard of The Athletic.

To make room on the active roster, infielder Kevin Smith was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. Bride was already on the 40-man roster, so no further moves were required.

The 26-year-old Bride isn’t one of the club’s very top prospects, but he worked his way up the ranks as a sleeper over the past few summers to firmly plant himself on the radar, and now he’s officially reached the majors. He was a 23rd-round draft pick in 2018 but showed a productive bat right away in the lower minors, and that success continued as he marched up through Double-A last season and Triple-A the past few weeks.

  • Bride, 2021 AA: .265/.407/.424, 130 wRC+, 9 HR, 17.1% BB, 17.1% Ks
  • Bride, 2022 AA: .315/.402/.603, 149 wRC+, 4 HR, 12.6% BB, 12.6% Ks
  • Bride, 2022 AAA: .392/.500/.549 174 wRC+, 1 HR, 12.9% BB, 14.5% Ks

The right-hander counts plate discipline as a top skill, with high walk rates, modest strikeout rates, and subsequently strong on-base ability. He hasn’t hit for a lot of power, but he did begin to increase his slugging this year even before moving to the offensive paradise of Vegas.

His story gets even more interesting on defense, where he’s seen time at several positions during his pro career. His primary spot has been third base, but he’s also helped out at first and second, and recently he’s started taking reps behind the plate as a catcher. He caught 11 games in the minors this season, after also making appearances there during the 2021 Arizona Fall League and at 2022 MLB spring training. In their official announcement today, the team referred to him as a “catcher/infielder.”

The addition of Bride means the A’s now have four choices at catcher on their active roster, along with Sean Murphy, Christian Bethancourt, and Stephen Vogt, though the hot-hitting Bethancourt has seen the majority of his time at first base. Bride is expected to play mostly infield for Oakland, adds Lockard.

Reliever Zach Jackson spoke highly of Bride, whom he’s known for a long time, via Matt Kawahara of the S.F. Chronicle:

A’s reliever Zach Jackson and Jonah Bride grew up about 15 mins apart in Oklahoma and were teammates at Double-A Midland last year. Jackson: “The way his bat works, he belongs up here … Happy to see his success, for as long as we’ve known each other it’s super cool.”

Bride himself offered the following reaction to his callup, via Kawahara:

“Never count yourself out ... 23rd round, senior sign and being able to make it doesn’t happen very often, so I definitely go out and take a lot of pride in that. I’m just appreciative of this opportunity.”

Unfortunately, every arrival requires a departure, and today the odd man out is Smith. The rookie was acquired before the season from the Blue Jays in the Matt Chapman trade, and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster as the everyday third baseman. However, he hasn’t yet found his groove at the plate in the majors with any consistency, and he’d been riding a 1-for-38 slump before this move.

  • Smith, 2022 OAK: .180/.216/.302, 48 wRC+, 2 HR, 4.6% BB, 27.8% Ks

On the bright side, his defensive work at the hot corner has earned positive grades on the advanced metrics, which has also been apparent from the eyeball test — on Friday he made a Chapman-caliber play against the Guardians. Even more impressive is that he’s been learning the position on the fly, as he spent most of his minor league career at shortstop, where he’s also considered a quality fielder.

The 25-year-old now heads back to Triple-A, where the team hopes he can bust out of his offensive doldrums, notes Kawahara in his full writeup.

With Smith out of the picture for now, and Sheldon Neuse also sent down to Triple-A last week, Oakland’s third base position is in new hands. Recent veteran addition Matt Davidson started four out of six games there over the past week, and then Bride got the start today, marking his MLB debut. Welcome to the Show!

Here’s the updated roster:

Oakland A's 26-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Frankie Montas (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Cole Irvin (L)
James Kaprielian (R)
Jared Koenig (L)

60-IL: Daulton Jefferies (R)
60-IL: Brent Honeywell (R)


Relievers

CL: Dany Jimenez (R)
Domingo Acevedo (R)
Zach Jackson (R)
Sam Moll (L)
Adam Oller (R)
Austin Pruitt (R)
A.J. Puk (L)
Lou Trivino (R)

60-IL: Deolis Guerra (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Christian Bethancourt (R)
Stephen Vogt (L)

Infielders

1B: Seth Brown (L)
2B: Tony Kemp (L)
SS: Elvis Andrus (R)
3B: Matt Davidson (R)
UT: Jonah Bride (R)
DH: Jed Lowrie (S)

Outfielders

Chad Pinder (R)
Cristian Pache (R)
Ramon Laureano (R)
Luis Barrera (L)

IL: Stephen Piscotty (R)
60-IL: Skye Bolt (S)