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CHICAGO WHITE SOX

White Sox and Athletics complete a minor trade to increase bullpen depth.

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In exchange for financial considerations, the Chicago White Sox received RHP Alex Speas from the Oakland Athletics. Speas was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas right away, where he will provide a depth position in the bullpen.

To make room for Speas on the 40-man, the Athletics made a similar move and designated RHP Zach Jackson for assignment.

Speas is an intriguing addition to the A’s roster. Pitching in the Rangers organization past season, he had a mixed bag of success. Across three levels, he pitched 58.2 innings, with 2 of those innings coming in the majors. After 28 innings, Speas had a 0.84 ERA in Double-A. He earned a 5.40 ERA in the same amount of innings worked at Triple-A.

The strikeout rate is the main cause for hope. Throughout all minor league levels, Speas has consistently struck out 35% of hitters while recording double-digit walk rates.

FanGraphs ranked Speas as the 13th best prospect for the White Sox heading into the season. Though it’s odd that they would deal him just for money, Speas has the potential to be a very productive bullpen arm—and those guys don’t exactly grow on trees these days.

Speas’s profile is comparable to Joe Boyle’s, to use an A as a point of comparison. With a cutter and a slider that combine to produce a mid-tier secondary offering, he is a tall guy who throws at almost 100 mph.

His inability to control his pitches is his major problem. Throughout his career, Speas has recorded unsustainable high walk rates, and it’s doubtful whether he will ever reach his maximum potential. We’ll have to wait and see because the A’s haven’t exactly been pitching whisperers.

Zach Jackson, the A’s DFA, pitched to a 2.86 ERA in 2022–2023

Zach Jackson’s assignment designation is an odd decision. Over the previous two seasons, he pitched well in the major leagues, recording a 2.86 ERA and 2.86 FIP in 66 total innings. Similar to Speas, Jackson has a tendency to walk too many batters, although while he was in Oakland, he struck out 31.9% of hitters.

Jackson’s first assignment of Triple-A was to clear the way for Austin Adams and Michael Kelly to enter the major league bullpen. Adams has not given up a run in his last four appearances, but Kelly has struggled, giving up three runs in five innings.

It feels like a lateral move from Jackson to Speas at best, and giving up on a successful major league reliever in exchange for a perhaps successful one at worst.

Miguel Andujar’s inclusion in the 60-day IL would have likely resolved this. Andujar had knee surgery, so he will be sidelined for a few weeks. It’s doubtful that his schedule will allow him to return to the starting lineup until June, so it’s not apparent why David Forst decided to part with a valuable player when he didn’t have to.

Jackson isn’t an All-Star, to be clear. However, he has shown himself to be a valuable player, and the A’s aren’t exactly loaded with men like that. With any luck, Speas can overcome his control issues and establish himself as a reliable option for the A’s in Oakland this season.

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