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Elephant Rumblings: Blackburn, Brown supposedly staying; Miller as closer?

MLB news roundup

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Minnesota Twins Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

The Winter Meetings are up and going and nothing major has happened yet. The slow beginning to the off-season continues as no major names have signed and no major trades have been made. Hopefully these meetings at least lay the groundwork for more action later in the off-season. It’s been boring so far but it’ll pick up sooner than later, and things might start happening in quick succession after the first domino falls.

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any news to come out of the meetings already, and there are a couple tidbits about the Athletics that got reported yesterday evening.

First, we got a smidgen of news from an old friend in Susan Slusser, who now writes for our rival across the Bay. Even though she’s on the other side we here at AN still love her:

That is a particularly interesting little morsel of news right there. Paul Blackburn was an All-Star just one year ago and had an interesting season in 2023. An injury interrupted his ramp up into the season but he still posted roughly league-average numbers over 20 starts (103 23 innings). The club evidently likes what it sees in Pauly B and wants to see what he can do with a full, healthy offseason.

Brownie, meanwhile, is coming off a much tougher season that saw him take a step back at the plate. He hit fewer home runs, saw his slash line decline across the board, and was almost completely inept against left-handed pitchers. There was even speculation that Brown could be either non-tendered or traded, because there are a lot of younger, higher-upside players that need playing time in 2024. The club is sticking with Brown for the time being, hoping that he may bounce back in some form in the first half. At that point, with the club where it is, he’d be a trade candidate anyways. Brownie’s days with the A’s are numbered.

In another piece of news regarding the makeup of next year’s team, we learned straight from the horse’s mouth that the club is temporarily scuttling Mason Miller as a starting pitcher:

While they claim that the door to returning to a starting job isn’t off the table in the future, it’s uncommon for a pitcher to be moved to the bullpen but then returning to a starting role. It happens, but with Miller it feels like the club may be anticipating this being a long-term thing.

Miller was mentioned as a potential closer, a role that he no doubt would thrive in. Spring Training would be useful in helping him get used to the role as a bullpen arm, something he hasn’t really done in his professional career yet. Still, getting Miller through a full season healthy would be a tremendous boost for an Athletics club desperate for better pitching. Let’s hope this move to the bullpen helps keep him healthy and prepares him for a possible rotation job in 2025. Seems so far away, doesn’t it?

And to wrap it all up, we got the MLB Draft Lottery coming up tonight. As the worst team in the league, the A’s have a great chance at the first overall pick. Then again, they had a great chance last year and got a tough draw at #6. Hopefully things go a little better this year. They’ll have a 18.3% chance at the first pick, same as the Royals and Rockies. Fingers crossed!

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