Athletics

A's protect two from Rule 5 Draft, DFA Abad, Gentry

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A's protect two from Rule 5 Draft, DFA Abad, Gentry

The A’s dropped reliever Fernando Abad and outfielder Craig Gentry from their 40-man roster Friday, on a day major league teams faced a deadline to protect some of their better prospects.

Abad and Gentry were designated for assignment to clear 40-man roster spots for Triple-A second baseman Joey Wendle and Single-A reliever Jose Torres. That means Wendle and Torres won’t be eligible for the Rule 5 draft next month, when teams can select players from other organizations who have long been toiling in the minors.

The A’s have 10 days to trade, release or outright Abad and Gentry to the minors if they clear waivers, though Gentry has enough service time to reject such an assignment and become a free agent if it comes to that.

Both players were viewed as key components of the 2015 team heading into the season, but both struggled. Gentry hit just .120 with three RBI in 26 games, spending most of the season with Triple-A Nashville. Abad, after a very effective 2014 season, saw his ERA balloon to 4.15, and he allowed 11 homers in 47 2/3 innings.

Both players are eligible for salary arbitration, so if another team trades for them or claims them off waivers, the players still go through the arbitration process with the acquiring team.

Wendle, 25, spent all of last season with Nashville after being acquired from Cleveland in the Brandon Moss trade last December. He came on strong with the bat as the season progressed and finished at .289 with 10 home runs and 57 RBI in 137 games. Wendle led the Pacific Coast League with 167 hits. His bat is considered better than his glove right now, and the A’s worked diligently with him on his defense last season. If Oakland isn’t sold on Brett Lawrie at second base, Wendle could get a chance to compete for the job in spring training.

The 22-year-old Torres, who was signed out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2010, posted a 2.56 ERA in 47 appearances last season split between low and high Single-A. He struck out 84 in 77 1/3 innings to go with a .203 opponents’ batting average. Wendle is ranked as the A’s No. 16 prospect by mlb.com with Torres coming in at 23rd.

Players signed or drafted at age 18 or younger must be added to the 40-man roster within five years, or be exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Those signed or drafted at 19 or older must be on the 40-man within four years.

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Many reasons why Bob Melvin was right choice for AL Manager of the Year

Bob Melvin is Manager of the Year in the American League. Not only recognized by The Sporting News a few weeks back, but now, on the grandest stage by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Melvin clearly deserves this honor on his own merits, but it’s even more impressive that he won what could have been a popularity contest. Considering Alex Cora and the season had by his Boston Red Sox. Or Aaron Boone with the Yankees, who wasn’t even named as a finalist. Both of those first-year skippers run huge payroll teams in huge media markets, and obviously lived up to some expectations.

But for Melvin, he took an emerging 2017 A’s group and raised the bar by 22 wins. That was despite enduring a completely broken-down starting rotation and a franchise that began Opening Day with the lowest payroll in all of baseball.

For reference: No team in the last 30 years of Major League Baseball has started the first game with the lowest payroll and gone on to the playoffs. Until the A's did in 2018.

Knowing some of the inner workings of this team without giving too much away, I can tell you that Melvin has a tremendous grasp on his club, both when they are surging and when they are struggling.

After Melvin won this award, analysts will try to point to tangible things such as in-game decision-making when it comes to quantifying how he managed his group so well. And yes, the A's did lead all of baseball in one-run wins.  

But for me, it’s all that you can’t see that makes Melvin the runaway winner for Manager of the Year.

For example, he facilitated the transition of one-time left fielder Khris Davis into an everyday designated hitter, and saw him hit more homers than ever.

Melvin guided Jed Lowrie through a career season where trade talks and the potential of a young prospect taking over at any minute could not have been higher.

Melvin established a back-end of the bullpen that fashioned Lou Trevino and Blake Trienen into one of the best setup/closer tandems in the game.

And last but not least, Melvin helped evolve players like Matt Olson and Matt Chapman during their first full MLB seasons into bonafide leaders on and off the field.

In short, the A’s are lucky to have Bob Melvin in the dugout. And even luckier that his recent contract extension will keep the Bay Area native at the helm for multiple years past the 2019 season.

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

A's Bob Melvin stays humble after winning AL Manager of the Year Award

Winning Manager of the Year honors isn't something Bob Melvin is a stranger to -- he's done it three times.

On Tuesday, the BBWAA announced the 57-year-old would take home the American League award after the Oakland A's finished a 2018 campaign that boasted a 97-65 record with an appearance in the AL Wild Card Game.

Despite being accustomed to the congratulatory wishes, Bo Mel remained humble.

"I said earlier -- it just means I've been around for a while, and I'm getting older to be able to be in a position to get it a third time, but it always feels good," Melvin said on NBC Sports Bay Area's "The Happy Hour," with a smile. "It's always a group effort -- our team this year was incredible."

The A's improved by 22 games from last season, and Melvin made sure credit was served to everyone, from the front office to coaches and, of course, the players.

"We are starting to see the fruits of some of these great trades that were made over the years," Melvin said.

And as far as the low payroll the A's are synonymous with -- don't worry. He addressed that as well.

"To be able to succeed with as low as a payroll as we had just means you have young players who are going to play really well -- and we did," Melvin said with a laugh.

He's not wrong.

Second baseman Jed Lowrie and closer Blake Treinen earned All-Star selections in 2018, and first baseman Matt Olson took home a Gold Glove Award and Matt Chapman earned a Platinum Glove Award for his defensive capabilities on the hot corner.

"To be able to do what they did and look at the Khris Davises and Marcus Semiens and Jed Lowries -- everyone on our team contributed," Melvin said.

Melvin earned 18 first-place votes from the BBWAA, beating out World Series champion manager Alex Cora, who came in second, by 11.