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A’s roster moves: Wade, Harris up, Oller and Allen down, Stevenson DFA’d

Some notable moves before the new series begins

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Baltimore Orioles Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

After returning from their East Coast road trip during which they struggled, the Athletics decided to make some roster moves and shake things up.

The big one is the demotion of shortstop Nick Allen. The light-hitting shortstop got off to a bad start with the bat here in 2023, a continuation of his struggles last year. So far his slash line is a ghastly .063/.118/.063, which even when combined with Allen’s terrific defense is just unplayable. It was essentially a black hole in the lineup.

Fellow infielder Kevin Smith was recalled back on April 9th for the beginning of the Baltimore series and started every game at shortstop against the Orioles. It seems the A’s are going to be giving Smith another long look at the major-league level. In those four games he’s collected two hits in 15 at-bats, which isn’t a whole lot better than Allen but he was on a tear at Triple-A and can’t possibly be worse than Allen right now.

This probably isn’t the end of the line for Nick Allen with the A’s. The demotion will allow him to work on his offense in a lower-stakes environment. Maybe hitting in the hitter-friendly PCL will give him a spark. We all know he doesn’t need to work on his defense at this point.

Taking Allen’s place on the position player side of things is Tyler Wade. A veteran of six seasons in The Show, Wade started the year in Vegas on a minor-league deal. In 10 games there he’s hit .286/.405/.286. He’s made most of his starts at shortstop but has also made starts at second and third base and center and right field. He’ll give Mark Kotsay a veteran utility option that should be able to come in anywhere on the diamond or in the outfield.

On the pitching side, right-hander Adam Oller gets demoted in favor of the left-handed Hogan Harris. Oller was terrific this spring during camp but hasn’t been able to bring that performance to the regular season. He lost out on the final rotation spot to JP Sears and served as a long-man out of the bullpen. He was roughed up in his first appearance of the season and then provided five solid innings of 1-run ball against the Rays when the A’s desperately needed innings.

That earned him the spot start in yesterday’s game but it was more like his first appearance than his previous one: 2 ⅓ innings with 7 runs allowed. That drubbing has now cost him his roster spot but like with Allen expect to see him again at some point this season. Maybe he can rediscover what was working for him this spring down in Vegas.

Hogan Harris replaces him and he’ll be making his MLB debut whenever he takes the mound. A former 3rd-round pick by the A’s in 2018, Harris has been almost exclusively a starter on his way up the ladder. He dominated Single-A and Double-A last year which earned him a promotion to the final minor league stop. Vegas wasn’t as kind to him though as he was roughed up to a 6.35 ERA in 8 starts for the Aviators. He began this season there again, making two starts with a 6.23 ERA and walking 9 batters in just 4 ⅓ innings, so generally more of the same.

So why is Harris getting the call instead of someone else? It probably comes down to him being left-handed. The only other lefty reliever on the roster is Sam Moll, so this move gives Kotsay another left-handed option for the middle innings.And because Harris is stretched out with a starter’s workload, he can easily slide into the long-man role left vacant by Oller’s demotion (yes, Adrian Martinez is also a long reliever on the roster but he just pitched almost four innings yesterday).

So there you have it. The A’s swap out a right-handed long reliever for a left-handed one, and swap a light-hitting shortstop for a more versatile utility option. To make room on the roster for Wade, the A’s needed to clear a 40-man roster spot and the casualty was outfielder Cal Stevenson. Stevenson had actually gotten off to a hot start for the Aviators, hitting .348/.483/.435 with three stolen bases. It would be nice if he could pass through waivers and stick around but that hot start might intrigue another rebuilding club to take a flier on him.