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.