LOS ANGELES – The three big trades that were rumored for the A’s are in the books.
So what’s next for this team?
A’s manager Bob Melvin announced before Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers that Edward Mujica will take over the closer’s role in light of Tyler Clippard being traded to the Mets on Monday.
Drew Pomeranz will remain in the bullpen as the setup man to get the ball to Mujica, and newcomer Aaron Brooks, one of two players obtained from the Royals in Tuesday’s Ben Zobrist trade, will be called up and start Saturday’s game against Cleveland, the first day the A’s need a fifth starter coming out of Monday’s day off.
That’s quite a contrast to how things looked when the A’s showed up for work last Thursday. Starter Scott Kazmir was traded to the Astros that day, starting a chain reaction of moves that everybody could see coming leading up to this Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
The trades of three impact veterans was expected, but it’s still a lot for an entire clubhouse of players to process. To that end, Melvin held closed-door meeting before Tuesday’s opener of a two-game series at Dodger Stadium.
The message – there’s plenty to play for over the final 62 games of the season.
“We have three guys that aren’t here right now that were important to our team,” Melvin said he told the team. “That doesn’t mean we go out with any lesser expectations than we had before.”
Catcher Stephen Vogt said that all the players knew this move was coming. The A’s are 44-56, tied for the worst record in the American League entering Tuesday night, and they were widely expected to be sellers at the deadline. Still, Vogt said it was weird bumping into Zobrist and his family at the team hotel Tuesday morning before the trade was announced.
“I said ‘Have a good day.’ I wish I would have said, ‘Have a good season,’” Vogt said.
But he doesn’t expect attitude or effort to be an issue for the players left in the clubhouse.
“Now that the three names we’ve been hearing most are gone, it’s kinda like ‘All right, turn the page and move on,’” Vogt said. “It’s still a good team in this room. Sixty-something games left, I don’t think anybody in this room is gonna quit.”
Melvin said Mujica’s prior closing experience was the deciding factor in going with him in the ninth inning. The 10-year veteran had 37 saves for St. Louis in his All-Star season of 2013. But since coming off the disabled list for a thumb injury, he’s posted a 5.79 ERA in 11 games (6 ER in 9 1/3 IP).
Brooks is a 25-year-old right-hander who was 6-5 with a 3.71 ERA in 18 games (17 starts ) for the Royals’ Triple-A squad. He has limited big league experience each of the last two seasons.
Melvin talked to Brooks briefly on the phone Tuesday and watched film of him.
“It looks like he commands the baseball pretty well,” Melvin said. “He’s got a mix of pitches. Based on what I was told today, we liked him a lot, enough to bring him up to the big leagues and give him an opportunity.”