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Elephant Rumblings: Four A’s are out of options

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

Don’t drop that ball, Cristian Pache!

That isn’t so much a worry for the young outfielder, who is renowned for his elite defensive skills. The real worry is that his hitting was terrible last year: In 260 plate appearances, Pache slashed .166/.218/.241 with a wRC+ of 35 for the A’s in 2022. To top it off, the 24-year-old centerpiece of the Matt Olson trade is one of four Athletics who are out of options with less than five years service time per Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors.

This has created a potentially huge dilemma for the A’s, who face the choice of having one of last year’s absolute worst hitters on the Opening Day roster, or designating Pache for assignment and exposing him to waivers. Thankfully, Cristian is showing signs of life with the bat in Spring Training with a .355 batting average and an OPS of .891. This is a small performance sample, but it should justify giving the former top prospect a shot with the big league club when the regular season begins.

The three other option-less players cited by Adams include reliever Domingo Acevedo and starting pitchers Paul Blackburn and Drew Rucinski.

Acevedo has pitched well so far this spring, and the 3.33 ERA and 4.01 FIP he posted while shouldering a solid workload of 67⅔ innings last season should make him an uncontroversial choice to begin the 2023 season in the A’s bullpen.

Blackburn was designated for assignment before the 2021 season, but he cleared waivers, worked his way back into the rotation, and became the A’s lone All-Star in 2022. His Cinderella season came to an early end after he tore a tendon sheath in his right middle finger. Now, he’s out with a fingernail avulsion, leaving him questionable for Opening Day.

Rucinski pitched all of 54 MLB innings before shipping overseas to play in the KBO League for four years. The A’s brought him back stateside on a one-year, $3 million dollar deal with a 2024 club option. Rucinski hasn’t dazzled so far in Spring Training, but given his consistent track record in Korean baseball and the significant sum the A’s have invested in him, he’s a good bet to make the Opening Day rotation and will hopefully eat a lot of innings in 2023.

Opening day is less than two weeks away! Have a wonderful weekend, AN.

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Pache showcase.

Tony and Michelle have another on the way!