MLB went wild heading into Friday’s 1 p.m. PT non-waiver trade deadline.
With less than 60 minutes until the deadline Friday, word leaked that the A’s pulled off a five-player deal to acquire veteran catcher Yan Gomes and utility man Josh Harrison from the Washington Nationals, who were in full-on fire sale mode.
Can confirm A’s are getting catcher Yan Gomes, utility infielder Josh Harrison from the Washington Nationals. Hearing the A’s are sending C Drew Millas, P Richard Guasch and P Seth Shuman
— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) July 30, 2021
Oakland added the two players while unloading minor league right-handers Richard Guasch and Seth Shuman, and catcher Drew Millas, who were all with the High-A Lansing Lugnuts.
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) July 30, 2021
Coupled with the earlier trades that netted southpaw reliever Andrew Chafin and outfielder Starling Marte, the A’s added four impact veterans this week without emptying the minor league cupboard. Jesus Luzardo is gone and Greg Deichmann looks like he could be a solid player, but the three players acquired Friday and right-hander Daniel Palencia (sent to the Chicago Cubs for Chafin) will all be long-term projects.
But the A’s made it through the deadline without dealing shortstop of the future Nick Allen and promising 2020 first-rounder Tyler Soderstrom. Top-level pitching prospects Daulton Jefferies and A.J. Puk are still in the A’s organization, too.
Gomes, Harrison and Marte are all set to walk as free agents after this season, while Chafin has a $5.25 million option for 2022. With these (likely) rentals in tow, it’s clear the A’s have pushed their chips into the table for a World Series run in 2021.
Gomes, 34, figures to provide an upgrade at backup catcher over Aramis Garcia, who will likely be optioned to Triple-A until rosters expand in September. Gomes also could provide some sage veteran advice for Sean Murphy, who has been running the show fine this year, but can definitely pick the brain of the 10-year vet, who won the 2019 World Series with the Washington Nationals.
Here are Gomes and Murphy, side-by-side:
Gomes – 63 G, 235 PA, .271/.323/.454, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 13 BB, 47 K
Murphy – 85 G, 325 PA, .218/.305/.418, 13 HR, 47 RBI, 26 BB, 82 K
While Murphy has more pop, Gomes has been more consistent at the plate this year and has batted a combined .275 over the past 93 games since 2020.
Harrison joins Tony Kemp and (injured) Chad Pinder as versatile utility men for manager Bob Melvin. Harrison primarily played second base for the Nationals this season, making 61 starts there, while he also made 12 starts in left field, eight at third base two in center and one in right. Jed Lowrie has been able to stay in the lineup with his balky knee all year long, but Harrison provides a solid everyday option backup there. Harrison also gives Melvin a solid right-handed bat off the bench.
The 34-year-old is slashing .294/.366/.434 with six dingers, 38 RBI, 25 walks and 50 strikeouts this year. His batting average is the second-highest of his career, trailing only the .315 mark he posted as an All-Star for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2014. Between Harrison, Gomes and Marte, the A’s added some high-contact players to a lineup full of home run power.
Earlier this year, Harrison told reporters a lot of his early success had to do with a unique batting grip, which features his hand split apart by a few inches on the bat handle. I suspect reserve outfielder Seth Brown to be sent back down to Triple-A Las Vegas with the addition of Harrison.
While Gomes is more of a quiet lead-by-example type, Harrison is definitely a fun-loving veteran who should bring a jolt of energy to the A’s clubhouse.
Gomes made MLB history as the first Brazilian to ever play in The Show and was also Brazil’s first MLB All-Star in 2018.
Kudos to general manager David Forst and executive vice president Billy Beane for pulling off this week’s significant roster overhaul to set them up for a playoff push. The A’s probably could have used another bullpen arm, but here’s a 26-man roster projection for the A’s going forward.
C Sean Murphy
C Yan Gomes
1B Matt Olson
2B Jed Lowrie
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Matt Chapman
UTIL Tony Kemp
UTIL Josh Harrison
LF Mark Canha
CF Starling Marte
RF/CF Ramon Laureano
RF/LF Stephen Piscotty
Designated hitter (1)
DH Mitch Moreland
RHP Chris Bassitt
LHP Sean Manaea
RHP James Kaprielian
LHP Cole Irvin
RHP Frankie Montas
RHP Lou Trivino
LHP Jake Diekman
RHP Sergio Romo
LHP Andrew Chafin
RHP Yusmeiro Petit
RHP J.B. Wendelken
RHP Deolis Guerra
RHP Burch Smith