Athletics

MLB rumors: A's interested in four-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

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MLB rumors: A's interested in four-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The A's catching situation remains up in the air despite Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann looking at platooning behind the plate in 2019.

And even with Stephen Vogt holding workouts for interested teams, we don't know if the A's are one of the teams of interest. On Thursday, Matt Wieters is a name that was brought forth as a possible candidate to take up those responsibilities:

The current free agent will enter his 11th year in the majors this season, spending the last two with the Nationals. In 2018, he only played in 76 games, posting a .238/.330/.374 slash line with eight home runs and 30 RBI. His season before wasn't exactly brag-worthy, either. 

For now, let's think about his time with the Orioles where across eight seasons he boasted a .256 batting average with 117 home runs. He also won four All-Star selections, two Gold Glove Awards, and was even in MVP talks in 2012.

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Wieters turns 33 in May, so you could imagine he would be seeking a one-year deal, perhaps in the $4 to $5 million range. He still has value as a veteran, and the A's could use a player of his capability. With the A's having other capable catcher as well, he wouldn't be overworked in the squat, too.

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

A's Khris Davis explains how he fools fans with fake Foot Locker career

Khris Davis agreed to a two-year, $33.5 million extension with the A's on Thursday, an experience very few of us can relate to.

However, Davis is a very relatable guy, at least when it comes to his desire -- or lack thereof -- to discuss his work outside of it.

It turns out that Davis isn't the least bit alone among MLB players when it comes to disguising their true profession. As ESPN's Eddie Matz wrote Thursday, pro baseball players tend to get creative when coming up with fake careers to tell inquiring fans, hotel concierges, and anyone else who might ask what they do for a living at an inopportune time.

Construction worker. Financial advisor. Blimp folder?

Like I said, creative.

Davis keeps his faux career a little more realistic, and one that he can speak on if need be.

"I tell them I work at Foot Locker," Davis informed. "I wouldn't pick a profession that I don't know anything about. I know a little something about shoes. Usually if I use that story, I'm on vacation or somewhere I don't want to be known. Nobody really cares about a shoe salesman, so the conversation doesn't last long."

[RELATED: Braden calls Khrush deal 'massive' for A's organization]

Considering the lucrative extension Davis signed, he should be able to afford plenty more vacations.

And more shoes.

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

How A's J.B. Wendelken overcame Tommy John surgery to become bullpen fixture

OAKLAND – Back in 2016, J.B. Wendelken was just trying to establish himself as a consistent relief pitcher at any level of baseball. 

The Savannah, Georgia native made his MLB debut with the A's that May, but struggled in eight appearances out of the bullpen. He allowed 14 earned runs in just 12 1/3 innings.

Wendelken wasn't much better in Triple-A, registering a 4.11 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 46 innings for the Nashville Sounds. As it turned out, there was a reason for his struggles: He needed Tommy John surgery.

"It was very tough to stay positive because I knew something wasn't right," Wendelken recently told NBC Sports California. "Every day you go out there, it was something else – some ache, some pain. You knew something wasn't right but I did my best at the time. ... Deciding to do surgery was actually the best decision of my life."

Wendelken missed the entire 2017 season as he recovered from the procedure. He admitted the rehab process was difficult, and often lonely, but he had help staying positive.

"Family. My lovely wife. Everybody kept me on track," Wendelken said. " ... I had some bumpy times coming down that rehab road, but overall, just overcoming that situation, it's eye-opening that you still have family there behind you no matter how low your lows are."

When Wendelken returned to the mound in 2018, he was a brand-new pitcher. The young right-hander was throwing his fastball with precision in the mid-to-high 90s, while also locating his curveball and changeup with pinpoint accuracy. 

"It was life-changing after surgery," he said. "I felt stronger and my confidence was up. ... It was a change for me with the feeling of how healthy I really was and that I could pitch here."

Even Wendelken couldn't have imagined how well he would pitch for the A's last season. In 16 2/3 innings, he allowed just one run, translating to a 0.54 ERA. He notched 14 strikeouts against five walks, and quickly became a trusted member of Oakland's bullpen.

"He was on the playoff roster for a reason," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It all came together for him after his surgery to where the (velocity) was back and the command was back. His mechanics are as good as they've ever been."

"I definitely outdid my own expectations," Wendelken added. "My goal coming into last year was just to play for myself, try to enjoy the game again, and get back into it. I think I did that well with how I carried myself and went about my business."

[RELATED: Braden calls Krush extension 'massive' for A's]

This season, Wendelken has picked up right where he left off, striking out 14 batters in 12 1/3 innings while walking just two. His 3.65 ERA is a little deceiving based on a stellar 0.81 WHIP and 2.65 FIP, which actually is better than last year.

"We expected him to be in this type of role based on what we saw last year," Melvin said. "A lot of guys have compared him to Lou Trivino's ascent. He's got a little bit to do before he gets to that level, but he's pitched himself into a role now where we're using him typically in plus games and, a lot of times, more than one inning."

Now 26 years old, Wendelken's patience and determination have paid off. He is firmly entrenched in the A's bullpen as one of the team's most reliable arms.

And he’s only just getting started.