Alejandro De Aza signed with the Mets before the 2016 season, but after the club re-signed Yoenis Cespedes later in the offseason, De Aza was relegated mainly to the team's fourth or fifth outfielder role. The 32-year-old struggled through maybe his worst season, putting up career-worst marks with a .205 average and 25.1 percent strikeout rate, to go along with a steep drop from earlier in his career in steals (four in seven attempts) and OPS (.618). Though the lefty didn't fare too much better against righties, his .195 average against southpaws will essentially render him as an option strictly against right-handed pitching. It wasn't long ago he blasted 17 home runs and was a 20-base stealer in consecutive seasons, but he seems to be entrenched behind the other outfield options Oakland has to offer heading into the season.
De Aza opted out of his minor-league contract with the Athletics on Monday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. With Jake Smolinski expected to miss extended time to start the season, De Aza was competing for a reserve outfield spot, though it appears the job will likely go to Jaff Decker now. The 32-year-old will now look to catch on elsewhere with another minor-league deal.
De Aza is competing with Jaff Decker for the Athletics' fifth and final outfield spot, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. With Jake Smolinski (shoulder) expected to miss several months after surgery, there's an opening on the Oakland roster. De Aza brings nine years of major league experience to the table but is off to a slow start this spring, hitting .217 over 23 Cactus League at-bats. The veteran has an opt-out clause if he doesn't make the Opening Day roster, so his time with the A's may be limited if he doesn't beat out Decker over the coming weeks.
De Aza, a non-roster invitee who signed a minor league deal on Jan. 25, is making a strong bid to stick as a fifth outfielder, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. The veteran is making the most of his opportunity thus far this spring, hittng .500 (3-for-6) over his first four games. De Aza has seen time in the leadoff spot when Rajai Davis has rested and is parlaying some extra playing time that a shoulder injury to Jake Smolinski has afforded him into solid production. While he did hit a career-low .205 last season with the Mets, De Aza owns a career .261 mark overall and can play all three outfield positions, making him a particularly valuable commodity if he can bounce back at the plate this spring. "He's done a nice job for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We've seen him in the past have some good games for us when he was with the White Sox. As a left-handed-hitting veteran outfielder, we knew he would be a guy that would be intriguing in this camp, especially due to our lack of outfielders and center fielders in particular."
De Aza signed a minor league deal with the A's on Friday, MLB.com's Jane Lee reports. He posted a .205/.297/.321 slash line with six home runs and four steals in 267 plate appearances with the Mets last year, so it's not surprising he was forced to settle for a minor league pact. The A's don't have a particularly impressive collection of outfielders, but De Aza will still need to catch a few breaks in order to see significant playing time in the majors this season.
De Aza went 2-for-5 with a homer, a walk and five RBI in Thursday night's win over the Cardinals. It's been a long and unrewarding campaign for De Aza, who's still hitting only .196. He has, however, been seeing somewhat more regular playing time lately, with two home runs over the last week offering some personal redemption, albeit not much promise of present or future fantasy value.