As the A’s get closer and closer to Spring Training, the reshaping of their roster continued – and another big part of their last two years has been shipped out.
Left-handed starter Cole Irvin was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, the team announced on Thursday. Oakland also sent minor league pitcher Kyle Virbitsky to Baltimore in the deal, acquiring minor league infielder Darell Hernaiz, who was No. 16 in MLB.com’s rankings of Orioles prospects entering Thursday.
The A’s acquired Irvin from the Phillies before the 2021 season for cash considerations after the Anaheim native pitched in parts of two seasons in Philadelphia. Given a chance to be a part of Oakland’s rotation, Irvin had a decent 2021 — 10-15 with a 4.24 ERA in 2021 and 125 strikeouts in 32 starts — and a strong 2022, finishing 9-13 with a 3.98 ERA in 30 starts.
Irvin’s numbers got better across the board from 2021 to 2022 — ERA, WHIP (1.33 in 2021, 1.16 in 2022), WAR (1.3 in 2021, 2.1 in 2022) and batting average against (.275 in 2021, .251 in 2022). There was hope that he could improve even more in his age-29 season, too.
Now, that hope for further improvement will be what fans in the black and orange of Baltimore, who will get Irvin at the major league minimum for 2023 before he reaches his arbitration eligibility after this season.
Hernaiz, 21, was a fifth round pick by the Orioles in 2019 out of an El Paso, Texas high school and signed at 17 years old instead of playing collegiately at Texas Tech. The Puerto Rican had a strong 2022, batting .273 in 105 games between Single-A, High-A and Double-A with 12 home runs, 62 RBI and stealing 32-of-36 bases.
MLB.com’s scouting report says Hernaiz’s athleticism is his main trait, and his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame leaves room for him to grow into a power-and-speed type of shortstop, in the mold of Carlos Correa. After ranking No. 16 in Baltimore’s top-of-MLB farm system, he may be considered a top-10 prospect for the A’s.
Virbitsky was selected in the 17th round of the 2021 MLB Draft out of Penn State. In his two professional seasons split between Single-A Stockton and High-A Lansing, the 24-year-old right-hander went 8-9 with a 4.49 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 142.1 innings.
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