For the second time in three days, the Oakland Athletics have released a catcher, designating Dustin Garneau for assignment to make room for the return of Opening Night starting backstop Josh Phegley.
Phegley landed on the 10-day injured list with a left thumb contusion on July 31 – after leaving a game early on July 28. After three rehab games in Triple-A Las Vegas – which were briefly interrupted when Phegley was hit in the shoulder by an errant pitch – he has been cleared to play. The hit-by-pitch did not cause any further complications.
Behind the hot-hitting season of Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, Phegley has quietly had one of the better years of his career, slashing .243/.283/.427 with 10 home runs and 47 RBIs. While those numbers aren’t spectacular, the catcher has provided steady offensive production from the nine-hole.
His return to the active roster meant that, since the A’s no longer needed the emergency backup catcher, Garneau could be moved.
The 32-year-old’s release comes just two days after Oakland designated Beau Taylor for assignment to make room for second baseman Corban Joseph. Taylor was claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, meaning that the A’s could do what they’d planned on doing with Taylor — get him past waivers and outright him to the minor leagues, for use later in the season.
In his limited playing time with Oakland, Garneau made an impact, going 5-for-17 with a home run, two double and seven RBIs.
The A’s are now left with Phegley and left-hander Chris Hermann as their only catchers on the 40-man roster. The lack of major league backstops could spell a future promotion for either Sean Murphy or Jonah Heim – both 24-year-old catching prospects in Las Vegas — or Garneau, should he clear waivers.
Both minor leaguers have above-.300 batting averages and could bolster what has been Oakland’s least productive position – outside of pitcher – offensively.