Taking stock of the A's utility player options

January 9th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos’ A’s Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With only about a month left until the start of Spring Training, it’s time to look ahead at some potential roster battles for the A’s.

While there are sure to be specific positions up for grabs, we’ll start with the role of utility man. The A’s place a high value on positional versatility, and there are a few players coming into camp who fit that mold. Let’s take a look at some of the names:

Díaz provided important leadership for several young Latin players in the A’s clubhouse, but his on-field performance was underwhelming. Signed to a two-year deal last offseason, he hit .229 with a .616 OPS in 109 games and saw his playing time decrease over the second half of 2023.

When healthy, Díaz has proven capable of producing some solid campaigns over his career, and he’ll look to earn a chance at a bounce-back season.

The A’s will be Toro’s fourth different organization over the last four years, which is somewhat rare for a player who just turned 27 last month. A lot of clubs have been enamored with his tools and positional flexibility, and Oakland, which acquired Toro from the Brewers in November in exchange for Minor League right-hander Chad Patrick, hopes to be the one that can finally see those traits fully blossom at the Major League level.

Toro spent most of last season at Triple-A Nashville, where he hit .291 with eight home runs and 58 RBIs in 96 games. He did appear in nine games with the Brewers, going 8-for-18 (.444) with two homers and nine RBIs. Over five big league seasons, however, Toro is a .211 hitter with a .636 OPS.

The A's know Toro well from days spent playing in the American League West as a member of the Astros and Mariners from 2019-22. Bringing an ability to play third, second and first base, as well as some outfield, the switch-hitter will be an intriguing player to watch this spring.

“Toro is a versatile player and one of those veteran guys that has been on some winning teams,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said during last month’s Winter Meetings. “We’ve had a couple of conversations. He’s open to playing anywhere and everywhere. The switch-hitting aspect, we haven’t had many switch-hitters in our lineup over the last two seasons. It obviously gives me the opportunity to have some flexibility in utilizing him in the lineup on a daily basis.”

Rated Oakland’s No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Schuemann did all he could to make the A’s take note of his performance down in the Minors last season by posting a combined .832 OPS with 10 home runs, 20 doubles 51 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 116 games, 103 of which came at Triple-A Las Vegas.

Schuemann, who has played every position except pitcher and catcher in his five Minor League seasons, was a candidate to be selected in last month’s Rule 5 Draft. Remaining in the organization, he will join the A’s in big league camp as a non-roster invitee and will get a chance to continue putting himself on the Major League radar.