OAKLAND -- Pitcher Brandon McCarthy is ready for a normal offseason after being medically cleared this week to resume his regular routine, less than three months after being struck in the head by a line drive and undergoing emergency brain surgery."Everything's good," McCarthy said by telephone Thursday. "This last month I have taken the rest part very seriously. I have a couple little projects I've picked up, I read - I'm actually really good at being lazy. It kind of worked out well timing wise."McCarthy, a free agent right-hander who was Oakland's opening-day starter last March in Tokyo, spent Monday and Tuesday undergoing extensive evaluations by renowned concussion expert, Dr. Michael Collins, at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to his Dallas-area home Wednesday and was cleared by Collins to begin working out."Today I'll start doing something, easing in and starting the program they gave me," McCarthy said. "Next week I'll be heading back to where I usually work out."McCarthy took a line drive to the right side of his head off the bat of the Los Angeles Angels' Erick Aybar on Sept. 5. The 29-year-old McCarthy sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture on the play, then underwent a two-hour surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. After the frightening ordeal, the club initially referred to McCarthy's situation as "life-threatening."Now, he checks in with Dr. Collins once a week to let him know that everything is going well, or if something seems a little off. McCarthy's concussion symptoms have subsided, but he still has to use caution and take notice of everything when exerting himself."Going to Dr. Collins kind of confirmed all that, you're back to where you'd be at normally," McCarthy said. "As I go back to working out, as long as I feel fine, I'm pretty much on my own. I'll slowly ease back into working out, then jump back into my full program."McCarthy went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA this year in his sixth big league season and second with the A's. McCarthy was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA last season.He plans to begin playing catch next month, then throw bullpens starting in January if all continues to go well. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported he had been cleared to resume baseball activities."It worked out well I recovered in the time I did," McCarthy said. "This shouldn't be something lingers into the offseason."The AL West champion A's have received regular updates on McCarthy's condition, and he could still be a good option to re-sign as long as the medical reports remain positive.McCarthy plans to let the process play out in time - knowing his case isn't as it would be had he not been hurt late in the year with such a scary injury that left plenty questioning whether he would ever pitch again.The support from the A's front office, medical staff, coaches, teammates and fans has meant so much to McCarthy and his wife, Amanda."It's definitely not something I'd rule out," he said of staying with Oakland. "The timing is a little strange going into free agency for the first time, having different options, waiting to see where you're at health wise. We'll listen to everybody. It's a whirlwind. But (Oakland), it's absolutely a place I'd love to be."
The A’s wasted no time making their first major move of the offseason, and it has a domino effect on how their 2018 lineup will take shape.
The trade of young slugger Ryon Healy to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday paves the way for left fielder Khris Davis to start getting heavy at-bats as the designated hitter, the spot left vacant by Healy.
It also points to another move the A’s want to pull off — acquiring a right-handed hitting corner outfielder who presumably can eat up those defensive innings that Davis spends as the DH.
It’s a series of moves that isn’t all that surprising given the A’s roster makeup right now. Healy, who hit .282 with 38 homers in 221 games over his first two big league seasons, is capable of playing either first or third base. But Matt Olson and Matt Chapman secured those spots, respectively, with their solid showings as rookies last season.
“We’ve obviously talked a lot since the end of the season about adding to the bullpen,” A’s general manager David Forst said on a conference call Wednesday night. “At the same time, with the emergence of Matt and Matt, on the corners, maybe Ryon needed to be somebody we might have to move ...”
It makes sense for Oakland to find a way to shift Davis from being the everyday left fielder while still keeping his 40-homer bat in the lineup. Opponents have routinely taken extra bases the past two seasons on Davis’ throwing arm, and whether they add a newcomer to play left or shift Joyce or someone else there, chances are they can benefit from better defense in left.
The A’s also feel they got an important chip back from Seattle to help bolster a bullpen that ranked 13th in the American League last season with a 4.57 ERA. They received right-hander Emilio Pagan (along with minor league shortstop Alexander Campos), and figure that the 26-year-old Pagan is someone the A’s have pegged to be an immediate contributor in their ‘pen.
A 10th round draft pick in 2013, Pagan made his big league debut in 2017 and posted a 3.22 ERA over 34 games spread over four stints with Seattle. He endured a rocky first couple of outings but, after being called up for good in the second half, eventually worked his way into a late-inning setup role. Pagan struck out 56 and walked just eight in 50 1/3 innings, numbers that surely popped out to Oakland’s front office.
He’ll likely be called upon in middle relief to help set the table for Chris Hatcher and closer Blake Treinen, as the bullpen currently looks.
Campos, just 17, spent this past season in the Dominican Summer League, and Forst said the A’s were eyeing Campos last summer when they eventually traded Yonder Alonso to the Mariners. Oakland wound up getting center fielder Boog Powell back in that deal.
Did the A’s rake in enough for Healy? As with all trades, it will take time to judge. But it’s fair to say that Healy’s departure will be felt in a clubhouse that is characterized by the emergence of many young position players, and he was a part of that group. In fact, when Healy was called up in July 2016 — knocking Danny Valencia out as the regular third baseman — he became the first of several promising position-player prospects to establish himself in Oakland’s lineup.
He rented a house in the East Bay and eventually took in Chapman, Olson and Chad Pinder as roommates. There’s a fiery side to Healy’s on-field personality that was a positive for the A’s, and watching him play Oakland as a member of an AL West rival will make for entertaining theatre.
Another storyline is how Davis takes to being a regular DH. Forst praised Davis’ approach to his game and doesn’t anticipate any problems, adding that the A’s still want to get Davis some time in the outfield.
The rumors were indeed true. Ryon Healy was on the trade block.
And now Healy has been traded...to the Mariners.
The two teams announced the trade Wednesday evening.
Oakland will receive right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan and shortstop Alexander Campos.
Healy burst on to the scene in 2016 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. This past season, he finished second on the A's with 25 home runs and 78 RBI. But he had become the odd man out in the A's lineup with Matt Olson and Matt Chapman solidifying the corner infield spots.
The 25-year-old is familiar with the Pacific Northwest as he attended the University of Oregon.
Pagan, 26, made his major league debut during the 2017 season. In 34 relief appearances with the Mariners, he posted a 3.22 ERA and struck out 56 batters in 50.1 innings. Against the A's, Pagan allowed one run in 5.1 innings over three outings. A native of South Carolina, Pagan was drafted by the Mariners in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
Campos appears to be the prize of the trade, though he's a bit further away from reaching the major leagues. Just 17 years old, Campos signed out of Venezuela in 2016 and made his professional debut this past season. In 59 games for the Mariners' Domincan Summer League team, Campos hit .290/.413/.367 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 26 RBI.
MLB Pipeline ranked Campos as Seattle's No. 15 prospect.