The Athletics announced a series of roster moves before today’s game, recalling the left-hander JP Sears and choosing the outfielder’s contract Cal Stevenson. In corresponding moves, rightly so Paul Blackburn was placed on the 15-day injured list and infielder Jed Lowrie was appointed for a task. Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle relays word from the team that Blackburn’s injury is an inflamed right middle finger.
Lowrie, 38, is a veteran playing in his 14th MLB season, with seven of the last nine being in Oakland. He signed a two-year deal with the Mets before the 2019 season, which turned out to be a disaster as mounting injuries limited Lowrie to just nine games during that contract. He returned to Oakland last year and had a nice rebound, hitting at a league average rate over 139 games.
The A’s brought him back for 2022 at a modest $850K salary, with a $100K bonus for spending 60 days on the active roster and a $150K bonus for being traded. With Oakland undergoing a massive selloff during the offseason, it appears the A’s would want Lowrie on board as a competent veteran presence among their roster of youngsters. If he played well enough to be shipped off for prospects at the deadline, that would have been a nice bonus. Unfortunately, Lowrie has a .180/.245/.263 line on the season for a wRC+ of just 49. Now that the deadline has passed, it looks like the A’s will use the final months of the season to evaluate younger players, including Lowrie. get pushed out of the picture.
One of those younger players getting a shot for Oakland down the stretch is Stevenson. The 25-year-old was a 10th-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2018 but has since been part of numerous trades. He went to the Astros together Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini in the 2019 agreement for Derek Fisher. Houston then traded him to Tampa in 2020 as part of the Austin Pruitt an agreement The Rays sent Stevenson to the last month of the A as part of the return for Christian Bethancourt.
The left-handed hitter has always carried himself well at the plate, posting double-digit walk rates at each of his minor league stops and always getting his wRC+ above 100, indicating above-average production. He first reached Double-A in the Rays’ organization last year, getting into 92 games, walking 15.3% of the time and hitting .254/.368/.403. That amounted to a wRC+ of 118, or 18% above average, with 17 stolen bases thrown in for good measure. This year, he was in Triple-A all year, split between the Durham Bulls and the Las Vegas Aviators. In 73 combined games, he surprisingly walked in 15.3% of his plate appearances again, while hitting .275/.387/.402 for a wRC+ of 113, swiping 15 bags in the process. He’ll get a chance to see how he fares against the big leaguers during the final weeks of 2022, before the A’s decide how to continue building their roster for next season.
It’s unclear how long Blackburn will be out of action, but it looks like Sears will at least get a few turns in the rotation. The 26-year-old Sears was one of the players that came from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas trade a little over a week ago. He has pitched in seven games for the Yankees this year but will make his Oakland start in today’s game, replacing Blackburn, who was the originally scheduled starter.