A's get outfielder Bleday from Miami for Puk
OAKLAND -- Just a few days before Spring Training gets underway, the A’s added a left-handed bat to their outfield mix.
In a swap of former first-round picks, the A’s sent left-hander A.J. Puk to the Marlins in exchange for outfielder JJ Bleday.
Having built up a large depth of pitching over the past year, the A’s dealt from what they feel is a strength of the organization as they parted ways with Puk, whom they selected sixth overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. Bleday, selected fourth overall by Miami in the 2019 MLB Draft, joins an outfield group in Spring Training that includes Ramón Laureano, Seth Brown, Esteury Ruiz, Cristian Pache, Conner Capel and non-roster invite Brent Rooker.
A’s receive: OF JJ Bleday
Marlins receive: LHP A.J. Puk
Bleday earned his first big league callup last July after a solid showing at Triple-A Jacksonville that saw him hit 20 home runs with 52 RBIs and an .835 OPS in 85 games. The 25-year-old appeared in 65 games with Miami and played mostly center field, slashing .167/.277/.309 with five homers and 16 RBIs.
With Oakland, Bleday brings a bit more balance to a roster heavy on right-handed-hitting outfielders. He’ll enter Spring Training likely in competition with Ruiz, Pache, Capel and Rooker in an outfield picture that could have a couple of open spots depending on how they decide to utilize versatile options such as Brown and Tony Kemp.
Puk, once rated the club’s top overall prospect, constantly battled injuries in recent seasons before finally putting together a healthy campaign out of the bullpen in 2022. After the lefty made 62 relief appearances and posted a 3.12 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 66 1/3 innings last season, the A’s were planning to give him a chance to convert back into a starting role by stretching him out this spring.
Despite Puk’s departure, the A’s still have a plethora of starting rotation options they’ll look to sort through in Spring Training. That group includes recent free-agent signings Shintaro Fujinami and Drew Rucinski, as well as 2022 All-Star Paul Blackburn, Ken Waldichuk, Kyle Muller, JP Sears, James Kaprielian and Adrián Martínez.