The Athletics assigned right-hander Zach Neal outright to Triple-A Las Vegas after he cleared waivers, per the team’s transaction log. Neal, who was designated for assignment on Friday, does have the ability to reject the assignment and opt for free agency if he chooses.
The 34-year-old Neal appeared in a pair of games for the A’s and allowed three runs on four hits and no walks with three strikeouts through 3 1/3 innings. It’s his second stint with the A’s, with whom he also spent the 2016-17 seasons. Since departing the first time around, Neal pitched one big league inning with the Dodgers and spent three years in the rotation for the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Through 89 Major League innings, Neal carries a 5.06 ERA with one of the lowest strikeout rates in MLB (11%) but also one of the best walk rates (1.9%). He’s a ground-ball pitcher who’s struggled recently in Triple-A both with the A’s and with the Rockies (in 2022). The Athletics’ rotation and bullpen have been a mess in 2023, with both groups ranking dead-last in the Majors in terms of ERA (7.26 for the starters, 6.49 for the relievers).
Oakland also currently has eight pitchers on the injured list: Paul Blackburn, Mason Miller, Drew Rucinski, Freddy Tarnok, Zach Jackson, Dany Jimenez, Trevor May and Kirby Snead. Given that huge slate of injuries and, more generally, the complete lack of definition on the pitching staff, Neal could work his way back to the big league roster if he pitches even decently in the upper minors.