Athletics activate Brandon McCarthy, demote Daric Barton to Triple-A

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The Athletics made a pair of roster moves this morning, activating right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the 15-day disabled list while demoting first baseman Daric Barton to Triple-A Sacramento.

McCarthy hasn’t pitched since May 17 due to a strained right shoulder. The 28-year-old has battled shoulder problems at various points during his career, but he managed to make it back in the minimum 15 days and will start this afternoon against the Royals.

After reinventing himself last season while posting a surprising 3.32 ERA across 25 starts, McCarthy has an excellent 2.95 ERA and 40/16 K/BB ratio in nine starts this year. He has averaged just 1.61 BB/9 since the start of last season, which is fifth-lowest among starters with at least 200 innings pitched.

As for Barton, he has really struggled in his first season back from surgery to repair a torn labrum in right shoulder, batting just .198/.325/.283 with one homer and a .608 OPS in 126 plate appearances. The 26-year-old appeared to be a useful piece for the A’s after leading the American League in walks back in 2010, but he has a lousy .208/.325/.272 batting line since. Kila Ka’aihue will handle starting first base duties for now.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.