Athletics

A's Sean Manaea making strong case to start potential wild-card game

A's Sean Manaea making strong case to start potential wild-card game

Sean Manaea missed more than a year with an injury to his pitching shoulder. Somehow, he hasn't missed a beat.

The A's left-hander tossed six shutout innings Sunday, allowing just three hits and a walk with six strikeouts as Oakland beat Texas 6-1 for its sixth straight win.

"Every time out, it's borderline dominance," A's manager Bob Melvin told reporters. "As the game went along, he got better and better. Absolutely fantastic. He definitely set the tone."

In three starts since returning from the injured list earlier this month, Manaea has surrendered just one run and six hits in 18 innings, with 21 strikeouts. That translates to an ERA of 0.50.

"It's been fun to play behind Sean every start," A's third baseman Matt Chapman told reporters. "He's worked quick. It seems like not a lot of guys have been getting on base. He's thrown a lot of strikes and he seems super confident. It just goes to show how hard he worked to come back."

The A's have received strong production from their entire starting rotation for most of the season, but Manaea is starting to separate himself from the pack. If the 27-year-old continues to dominate his opposition at this level, he would seem to be the clear frontrunner to start a potential Wild Card Game.

"It's almost like we've got a fresh guy now too," Melvin said. "He's pitching like he's fresh. ... Unfortunately, he had to go through what he had to go through to get to this pace, but it's a fresh, live arm right now. Every time he goes out there, the team just feels better about themselves."

[RELATED: Powerful A's offense sets franchise record with 244th homer of season]

With 12 games remaining in the regular season, the A's sit at 90-60, the same exact record as last season through 150 games. Oakland leads Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games for the first wild-card position and Cleveland by three games for the second spot.

The A's open their final homestand of the season on Monday against the Kansas City Royals.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.