The Athletics announced Tuesday that they’ve designated right-hander Burch Smith for assignment to open space on the roster for righty Domingo Acevedo, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Smith has spent the past two seasons in Oakland after being acquired from the crosstown Giants in February 2020. He missed a good chunk of last season with a forearm strain but performed well in his brief look when healthy, tossing twelve innings of three-run ball out of the bullpen. Oakland brought Smith back on a low-cost deal to avoid arbitration, but his 2021 season hasn’t been as promising.
After missing a month early in the season, Smith returned to the active roster in early May. He’s worked mostly low-leverage relief innings over the past few months and hasn’t found much success. Over 43 1/3 innings, the 31-year-old has a 5.40 ERA with a 14.9% strikeout rate that’s nearly ten percentage points below the league average for relievers. That’s come with a correspondingly low 7.5% swinging strike rate — a career-worst mark — while his fastball velocity and spin rate have ticked down a bit relative to last season.
The A’s will now place Smith on waivers in the coming days. Any claiming team would assume the approximately $76K remaining on his arbitration contract. Should he pass through waivers unclaimed, Smith would have the right to elect free agency as a player who has previously been outrighted in his career.
Acevedo is up for his second stint on the 40-man roster. A longtime Yankees’ farmhand, the 27-year-old signed a minor league deal with Oakland last offseason and was selected to make his major league debut in June. He ultimately made three appearances, tossing as many innings of three-run ball before being designated for assignment and released. (Acevedo was seemingly injured in the minor leagues at the time of his designation, and injured players cannot be placed on outright waivers). He quickly re-upped with the A’s on a new minors pact.
Spending much of the season with the A’s top affiliate, Acevedo has been highly impressive. He’s worked 32 2/3 frames of 2.48 ERA ball, striking out a massive 42.1% of batters faced while walking just 4.8% of opponents. That success has come in spite of the extremely hitter-friendly nature of that Las Vegas affiliate, earning Acevedo another MLB look down the stretch. The Athletics enter play tonight two and a half games back of the Yankees and Red Sox, who are tied for the American League’s final postseason spot (with the Mariners also ahead of Oakland in the standings).