Chapman earns spot on Baseball America's All-Rookie team


Chapman earns spot on Baseball America's All-Rookie team

A’s third baseman Matt Chapman was part of select company Tuesday, honored by Baseball America on its 2017 All-Rookie Team.

The team combines rookies from both leagues, and just one player is chosen at each position around the diamond, along with five starting pitchers and one reliever. Chapman is part of a star-studded 2017 class that includes Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, a strong American League MVP candidate, and Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, the strong favorite for NL Rookie of the Year.

Chapman took over third base duties for Oakland immediately upon his call-up June 15 and hit .234 with 14 home runs and 40 RBI in 86 games while playing standout defense. From the All-Star break on, he led major league rookies in doubles (21) and extra-base hits (37).

Chapman began producing highlight-reel defensive plays almost immediately, showing off a rocket arm, excellent hands and terrific range that helped him navigate the Coliseum’s vast foul territory. The 34 double plays he turned are the most by a third baseman in major league history with fewer than 100 games, and that total was fifth-most in the AL despite Chapman playing in just over a half-season of games.

His defense rated very high across several sabermetric categories. Among AL third basemen with at least 700 innings played, Chapman led the league in Defensive Runs Saved with 19. Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria was a distant second with 11.

Whether Chapman’s reputation spread quickly enough to warrant Gold Glove consideration remains to be seen. Coaches and managers vote for the award during the season, with a sabermetric statistical component also factored in. Winners are announced in November.

The A’s knew they could expect excellent defense from Chapman, but general manager David Forst was pleasantly surprised by the rookie’s bat.

“I think we knew when we brought him up, though maybe it was a little sooner than we planned, that his glove would sort of keep him afloat,” Forst said. “I think the bigger surprise was how quickly his bat kind of leveled off. He’s going to swing and miss, but the extra base hits, the homers, the fact he performed the way he did offensively was really nice to see.”

Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers


Now officially in the fold, Lucroy ready to work with young A's pitchers

The Oakland A's made it official: They finally got their man behind the plate. 

Oakland officially announced the signing of veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy on Monday. Lucroy's deal is reportedly worth $6.5 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser.

Lucroy joined his new teammates for the first time in Arizona on Monday, and told reporters that he is especially excited to work with the club's young, promising pitching staff. The three returning leaders in innings pitched (Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton) are all 27-years-old or younger, and 22-year-old top prospect A.J. Puk is pushing for a rotation spot after allowing just one run in three appearances this spring. 

"I'm looking forward to working with these guys and trying to help them get better and get better myself along the way," Lucroy told reporters. "I think that's what it's all about; taking what they do best and try to simplify their approach ... Really, just doing anything I can with them to get hitters out."

Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he thinks Lucroy's experience will prove beneficial to his young staff.

"If we can't go out and get ourselves a [starting pitcher], that's the next best thing," Melvin told reporters on Monday. "So, he's got a lot of experience, and a great reputation for being a teriffic leader behind the plate."

Lucroy, 31, slashed .265/.345/.371 in 481 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies last season, hitting six home runs with 40 RBI, his lowest marks in those categories since his rookie season in 2010.

In order to accomodate Lucroy's signing the, the A's designated left-handed pitcher Jairo Labourt for assignment. Labourt was acquired off of waivers on Mar. 4, and Labourt's arrival prompted the eventual release of Brandon Moss one month into his Oakland reunion.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues


Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9.