Nevin, Kotsay get reunion 20 years in the making

April 2nd, 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.

OAKLAND -- Mark Kotsay can still vividly remember teammate Phil Nevin’s son, , as the little kid who was running wild inside the Padres’ clubhouse during his playing days in San Diego from 2001-03.

Two decades later, Tyler was once again walking through Kotsay’s clubhouse. Only this time, it was as a player now being managed by his Dad’s good friend. Nevin, who was designated for assignment by the Orioles on Thursday, was claimed off waivers by the A’s on Sunday and added to their Major League roster prior to Monday’s 9-0 loss to the Red Sox at the Coliseum.

“I have known him for a while,” Kotsay said of Nevin. “He’s been through the wringer in this game with a very limited amount of opportunity at the big league level. But in a small window, he has had success. That’s why we went out and got him right now.”

A first-round pick by the Rockies in the 2015 MLB Draft out of Poway High School in California, Nevin spent five seasons in Colorado’s farm system but never advanced beyond Double-A Hartford. From 2021-23, he was traded to Baltimore, Detroit and then back to Baltimore, appearing in 105 Major League games over that time.

Despite a strong showing in big league camp with the Orioles this spring, hitting .333 with an .841 OPS and two home runs in 23 Grapefruit League games, Nevin was informed a few days before Opening Day that he would not make Baltimore’s roster.

“I’ve had some roles in the past where I’ve kind of been blocked at other positions,” Nevin said. “I’m excited to, hopefully, work my way into being a more established player. I was really excited to get the call and just happy to be wanted by a team.”

Nevin worked on adjustments at the plate last season and was pleased with the results, particularly in the second half. Over 19 games with Detroit in September and October to end the season, he hit .283 (13-for-46) with a .857 OPS.

“I had a lot more success than I had earlier in the year,” Nevin said. “A lot of my good numbers came in that last month. This offseason was fun because I didn’t feel like I was trying to change too much. It was more just building off of what I had already adjusted to. I felt like I carried that right into spring and feel like I’m in a good place right now.”

Nevin has worked to add versatility to his game over the past couple of years, and that might be what gets him his best shot at somewhat regular playing time this season with the A’s. The 26-year-old utility man is expected to play some left field and first base primarily against left-handed pitching, and could even get some starts against right-handers.

“Tyler is a guy who has had some success in the big leagues, particularly against left-handed pitching,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “He is an important piece coming in.”