Athletics

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

A's option RHP Hahn to Triple-A; LHP Detwiler opts out of deal

MESA, Ariz. —The A's optioned starter Jesse Hahn to Triple-Nashville on Sunday and announced that lefty Ross Detwiler has opted out of his minor league contract to become a free agent.

Hahn’s demotion brings Oakland's rotation into focus, with Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara lined up as the fourth and fifth starters, respectively, behind Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton. Sonny Gray will begin the season on the disabled list.

Hahn got off to a strong start this spring but struggled mightily in his last two starts, giving up 12 earned runs combined. It’s the second spring in a row that he’s entered camp looking to lock down a rotation spot before getting sent down, but the right-hander believes he’s better equipped to handle this setback.

“It’s disappointing for sure, because I set a goal this spring and that was to make the rotation,” Hahn said. “I didn’t do that, but I can’t get down on myself. I have to stay positive. I think I did a lot of positive things this spring. … I’m not going to let this one get me down. I’ve been through that situation last year. I learned from it. So I’m not going to make the same mistakes that I did last year.”

Gray’s injury, a strained lat muscle that’s expected to sideline him most of April, left two spots at the back of the rotation. The A’s are turning to right-handers Triggs and Alcantara, who have combined for just 11 big league starts between them.

Certainly with Triggs, this scenario had been developing for a while. Front office officials had talked him up since the beginning of the offseason as a rotation possibility. He's posted a 5.06 ERA in five exhibitions (three starts), but he looked very sharp in his last outing Wednesday against the White Sox.

Alcantara is out of minor league options, and the A’s wanted to keep him whether it was in a starting or relief role. His ERA is 4.50 over six appearances (three starts), but like Triggs, his most recent start was his most effective.

“Both of these guys will get an opportunity they haven’t had before,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.

Sunday’s developments could have a trickle-down effect with other parts of the roster. The A’s are in a better position now to keep five outfielders if they want and go with the standard seven relievers. Going with eight relievers and four outfielders seemed more likely when Alcantara was still a bullpen consideration just to keep him from hitting the waiver wire.

Non-roster invitees Alejandro De Aza and Jaff Decker, who is slated to return Monday from an oblique injury, are the primary candidates to be the fifth outfielder, although Chris Parmelee, another non-roster player, has quietly had a good spring.

The seventh bullpen spot could go to Daniel Coulombe if the A’s deem it important to have a second lefty, or they could go with impressive right-handed prospect Frankie Montas, who would be more of a multi-inning reliever asked to get both lefties and righties out. Of course, they could still opt for an eight-man ‘pen if they want a second lefty and think it’s necessary to keep Montas as a length guy.

Detwiler was on the fringe of the rotation competition and also could have been a bullpen consideration. But he posted an 11.88 ERA over eight appearances. The lefty is now free to sign with any club, though Melvin didn’t rule out the chance of Detwiler returning at some point.

**

Khris Davis, out recently with right quad soreness, will play in a minor league game Sunday along with Decker. If Davis comes out of it well, Melvin said he will DH on Monday.

In another injury update, third baseman Trevor Plouffe is doing OK after tweaking an abductor muscle in his groin. Melvin is aiming to get him in one more game before the A’s fly north Wednesday, and then Plouffe will have the Bay Bridge Series to make sure he’s ready.

 

Breaking down A's second baseman situation for this season, future

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Breaking down A's second baseman situation for this season, future

OAKLAND -- When the A's acquired Jurickson Profar from the Texas Rangers this past offseason, they were hoping he would step in to replace the production of Jed Lowrie from last year. Unfortunately, he hasn't come anywhere near doing that.

Profar, 26, has struggled all season, both with his bat and his glove. Offensively, he is slashing a meager .205/.268/.382. Defensively, he has committed 12 errors, tied for the most among major-league second basemen.

Partly due to Profar's struggles, the A's gave former top prospect Franklin Barreto a chance to earn the starting second baseman job last month, but the 23-year-old found even less success than Profar at the plate. Barreto hit just .106/.125/.255 with 18 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances, ultimately getting sent back down to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Now with just a month and a half remaining in the regular season, the job appears to belong to unheralded 30-year-old Corban Joseph. Oakland selected Joseph's contract from Triple-A on Wednesday and he has started four straight games at second base.

"We're just trying to do the best we can with the position with a guy who's swinging a hot bat and has been the entire year," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Joseph. "When you have that kind of year and we're maybe not getting as much production as we want out of that position, you look somewhere else."

Melvin confirmed that Joseph, a left-handed hitter, will get the majority of playing time at second base, particularly against right-handed pitchers. That means Profar has once again been relegated to a backup role.

At this point, it seems highly unlikely that the A's will bring Profar back next season. He is earning $3.6 million this season and figures to get a similar salary in arbitration next year. Oakland could try to trade him this offseason or simply non-tender him.

The A's do have some talented young prospects waiting in the wings, in addition to Joseph. Barreto remains a possibility, though his value has certainly dropped a bit over the past few years. Another option is Jorge Mateo, whom the A's acquired from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray trade.

Mateo, 24, is having a productive year in Triple-A, slashing .297/.336/.524 with 17 home runs, 14 triples, 26 doubles, and 22 stolen bases. His elite speed makes him a highly-regarded prospect, ranked fourth in the A's system by MLB Pipeline.

Sheldon Neuse could potentially be another candidate beginning next season. The 24-year-old is primarily a corner infielder, but he has played seven games at second base this year for Triple-A Las Vegas and nine games at shortstop.

[RELATED: Khris Davis was once an underrated prospect]

Neuse is slashing an impressive .320/.389/.546 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI. He is ranked as Oakland's eighth-best prospect.

In the meantime, Joseph has a golden opportunity to take control of the starting second baseman job for the remainder of the season. And who knows, if he performs well down the stretch, he could earn the role for next year too.

A's vs. Astros lineups: Josh Phegley returns, Khris Davis bats seventh

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A's vs. Astros lineups: Josh Phegley returns, Khris Davis bats seventh

The A's have a quick turn around from a 3-2 walk-off win over the Houston Astros at the hands of Robbie Grossman on Friday night. The outfielder hit a single in the 13th inning and the team celebrated accordingly.

Saturday's game will be the third of the series against the 'Stros who fall two games behind in the four-gamer. And the good news for the A's gets better with catcher Josh Phegley returning to the lineup after being on the injured list with a sore thumb.

The addition will have him hitting ninth, two spots after designated hitter Khris Davis who drops down to spots in the lineup.

The A's will send Chris Bassitt to the mound to face Rogelio Armenteros who was promoted from Triple-A Round Rock to get the start in place of injured Gerrit Cole. The right-hander is 5-6 with a 5.05 ERA in Triple-A

Here are how the lineups look to shape up for the Astros-A's game. Coverage will be on FOX Sports 1. You can also follow in-game, here.

Houston Astros (78-45)

George Springer, RF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Michael Brantley, LF
Alex Bregman, 3B
Yordan Alvarez, DH
Carlos Correa, SS
Yuli Gurriel, 1B
Martin Maldonado, C
Jake Marisnick, CF
Rogelio Armenteros, P (1-0, 1.93 ERA)

Oakland A's (70-52)

Marcus Semien, SS
Robbie Grossman, LF
Matt Chapman, 3B
Matt Olson, 1B
Mark Canha, CF
Stephen Piscotty, RF
Khris Davis, DH
Corban Joseph, 2B
Josh Phegley, C
Chris Bassitt, P (8-5, 3.56ERA)