Last week, when the A’s acquired Scott Sizemore from the Tigers and optioned him to the minors, Matthew Pouliot speculated in this space that they’d turn to him at third base if Kevin Kouzmanoff continued to struggle.
Matthew guessed it would take another couple weeks for Kouzmanoff to lose the job, but the A’s just optioned him to Triple-A … and called up Sizemore.
Kouzmanoff posted good power numbers for the Padres despite playing half his games in the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark, but he’s hit just .240 with a .279 on-base percentage and .389 slugging percentage in 205 games since joining the A’s last season.
Oakland is a pitcher-friendly ballpark too, but managing just 23 homers in 743 at-bats is a surprise and Kouzmanoff has never had enough plate discipline to remain an asset if he’s not hitting for power. Sizemore has been even worse in the majors, hitting .223 with a .612 OPS for the Tigers, but that comes in a total of just 65 games and he’s hit .313 with 20 homers, 21 steals, and an .881 OPS in 179 games at Triple-A.
Oakland may try to trade Kouzmanoff, but his stock has likely dropped far enough that finding a taker for his $4.75 million salary will be tough.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.