By Alex Hall
Special to S.F. Examiner
The Oakland A’s made another trade to bolster their pitching staff on Friday, acquiring reliever Cory Gearrin from the Rangers. In exchange, Oakland sent two minor league pitchers to Texas.
Gearrin began the year with the San Francisco Giants, for whom he’d played since 2015, but he was dealt to the Rangers in July. The right-hander posted a 1.99 ERA for San Francisco last season. He isn’t repeating that level of success this summer, but he’s still having a strong campaign with a 3.51 ERA and a strikeout per inning.
“He’s been terrific,” manager Bob Melvin said. “You envision more of a matchup righty-righty guy, but he’s also shown the ability to get lefties out. He can pitch a couple of innings, he’s got a funky arm slot, the ball moves a lot. I know he’s excited about being here.”
The 32-year-old was particularly good since joining Texas, with a 2.53 ERA in 21 games. He’s also been effective at protecting leads, recording a save and nine holds while blowing only two opportunities. The last time he blew a lead was in mid-April.
As for the trade return, Oakland gave up right-handed pitching prospects Abdiel Mendoza and Teodoro Ortega. Both are teenagers in the lowest reaches of the minors who were signed as international free agents, and both are also natives of Panama.
The A’s currently have nine pitchers in their bullpen, which has seen a heavy workload all year in support of an injury-riddled starting rotation. Gearrin won’t arrive in time for Friday’s game, but when he does, he’ll be the pen’s fourth trade addition since July, joining Jeurys Familia, Fernando Rodney and Shawn Kelley. That trio sports a 1.43 ERA in 37 2/3 innings since coming to Oakland.
Saturday is the first day of September, which means rosters expand from 25 players to as high as 40. That means no one will need to be sent down to make room for Gearrin by the time he’s activated, and in fact more arms will likely be called up alongside him. Having lost two more starters to injuries in the last week, the bullpen is expected to see plenty of work for the final month.
To make room for Gearrin on the 40-man roster, starter Paul Blackburn was transferred from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day DL with an elbow injury. He last pitched in early July. However, the right-hander was throwing on the field before the game and this move doesn’t preclude him returning before the end of the season if his recovery goes well.
In the meantime, the A’s have a game Friday night against the Mariners. Mike Fiers will start for Oakland against Mike Leake for Seattle. Leake faced the A’s in mid-August and threw eight scoreless innings in an eventual extra-inning victory for the Mariners. The A’s called up outfielder Dustin Fowler before the game, and he’s in the lineup batting leadoff and playing left field.