An offseason trade sent Joey Wendle to Tampa Bay from Oakland, where he had steadily been toiling in Triple-A. Wendle has consistency on his side; in each of the past three seasons, he has appeared in at least 118 Triple-A games and recorded an OPS between .756 and .776. Unfortunately, that means Wendle hasn't exhibited the growth the Athletics wanted to see in order to give him a chance to become their starting second baseman. Wendle has neither the pop nor the plate discipline to fully overcome his strikeout problem, as he has struck out 308 times against just 67 walks over those three Triple-A campaigns. Expect him to open up the season as a backup to Daniel Robertson at second base in Tampa, but if Robertson is as underwhelming in 2018 as he was in 2017 (.634 OPS, five home runs in 218 at-bats), Wendle could get his first big-league opportunity for a starting job.
Wendle, who's hitting .353 over 38 spring plate appearances, continues to push for a left-handed platoon role at second base with his consistency at the plate, Bill Chastain of MLB.com reports. Already a proven performer at the Triple-A level for multiple seasons while with the Athletics organization, Wendle was a December acquisition that flew somewhat under the radar, but that had the air of a possible steal for the Rays. Wendle's resume includes 58 home runs and 327 RBI over a 641-game minor-league career, and he's been able to produce with both the bat and glove at every stop that he's spent an appreciable amount of time in. That's carried over to his first spring in Tampa, where manager Kevin Cash has taken note of how well-rounded and consistent the 27-year-old's game is. "I think our guys got it right when we acquired him," Cash said. "They said he's a very consistent player, solid defender, and gets his hits. He's quietly had a pretty good spring at the plate. Seems like he's getting a hit a day. Just very steady. And sometimes you don't want to see surprising, you just want to see consistency, and that's what he's shown."
Wendle is competing for the Rays' second-base job alongside Daniel Robertson, Micah Johnson and Willy Adames this spring, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports. Manager Kevin Cash said that the recent trade of Ryan Schimpf to the Braves on Monday opened up a little more competition at the keystone, paving the way for Wendle to receive more reps in the Grapefruit League. The 27-year-old has only appeared in 36 major-league games over the course of his career, hitting .266/.305/.339 with two home runs and 16 RBI in 109 at-bats.
Wendle was traded from the A's to the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. The two teams worked out a deal after Wendle was designated for assignment by the Athletics last week. The 27-year-old spent most of the 2017 campaign with Triple-A Nashville, though he did earn a September callup and hit .308/.357/.615 in eight games for the big club. Wendle will fight for an Opening Day roster spot as infield depth, though it's possible he winds up at Triple-A Durham to start the season.
Wendle was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Thursday, MLB.com reports. The move clears a spot on the 40-man roster for Yusmeiro Petit, who was recently signed as a free agent. Wendle spent most of the 2017 season with Triple-A Nashville, compiling a .285/.327/.429 line with eight homers and 13 stolen bases in 118 games. He held his own during a September callup, hitting .308/.357/.615 in eight games, but it apparently wasn't enough for the Athletics to keep him on the 40-man. He'll now run through waivers to determine his next landing spot.
Wendle went 1-for-4 with a grand slam in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Phillies. The 27-year-old's 381-foot shot to right with the bases jammed in the sixth erased a 3-2 deficit and ended up being the difference in the contest. Wendle had only seen five at-bats with the big-league club coming into Sunday's contest, and his timely round tripper was only the second of his brief major-league career. He figures to continue logging occasional starts for the balance of the regular season.