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LOS ANGELES – The A’s continued bolstering their young pitching depth with Tuesday’s trade of Ben Zobrist to Kansas City, and it’s possible A’s fans see one of the new additions soon.
Right-hander Aaron Brooks, one of two pitchers Oakland acquired from the Royals, has been starting at Triple-A for most of the season but has a bit of big league experience dating back to last year.
“Brooks is a guy that probably can come up very soon, with injuries, and the depth being cut into because of some of those injuries,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said.
The A’s, having traded Scott Kazmir and without injured starter Jesse Hahn, will need a fifth starter for Saturday’s game against Cleveland. Could Brooks make his A’s debut that day?
His addition to the equation certainly impacts whether Barry Zito could get a much-anticipated return call to the majors. Zito has enjoyed a solid season pitching for the A’s Triple-A Nashville affiliate, and would seem a candidate to possibly get Saturday’s start, though he lasted just three innings Monday against New Orleans.
“I’m not going to speculate as to what we’re going to do,” Beane said. “We’ll make that decision when we get to it.”
Brooks, 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) at Triple-A this season, will report to Nashville.
Lefty Sean Manaea, the other pitcher acquired in the Zobrist deal, appears the big catch for the A’s. Rated the Royals’ No. 3 prospect heading into this season by Baseball America, the 6-foot-5 Manaea was the 34th overall pick in the 2013 draft. Beane expressed satisfaction – and surprise – that the Royals were willing to part with him. But his inclusion in the deal helps explain the A’s willingness to send a reported $2 million to the Royals to help cover much of Zobrist’s remaining salary for this season.
“Manaea is considered the guy with the most upside, and probably the type of player we didn’t think we could get in this type of deal,” Beane said, referencing the fact that Zobrist will be a free agent after this season. “He’s a high-profile kid. A big kid, 6-5 … The strikeout percentage is abnormally high. One of the things we wanted to address was the lack of pitching depth in the organization, and we think we’ve helped.”
Manaea, a 23-year-old ranked as the majors’ No. 43 overall prospect by mlb.com, will report to Double-A Midland. He was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick while pitching at Indiana State before suffering a torn labrum. His start to this season was delayed by an abdominal injury and groin strain, so he’s made just seven starts. But Beane said A’s head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta reviewed all of Manaea’s medical reports and gave him a definitive thumbs-up.
Manaea led the Single-A Carolina League with 146 strikeouts last season.
Beane didn’t completely close the door on any more moves before Friday’s trade deadline, but said they would likely be minor in scale, perhaps aimed at addressing this year’s club.