The Oakland Athletics have announced that they have claimed right handed outfielder Kent Matthes on waiver from the Rockies. Matthes, who had been optioned to the AAA Colorado Springs Sky Sox a week ago, was added to the 40-man roster last November to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Though the Rockies were short on righty outfielders at that time, the acquisitions of Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes significantly lowered Matthes' placement on the depth chart.
On the minor league front, the Sky Sox already had a crowded outfield with Tim Wheeler, Jason Pridie and whichever of Barnes, Charlie Blackmon or Corey Dickerson doesn't make the club. In addition, Kyle Parker is expected to continue to play some outfield in addition to time at first base. This may increase the likelihood that a player like Matt McBride makes the club, as he would have slightly more playing time in the OF as a utility player.
However, the real intrigue here lies in what this means for the MLB roster. The Rockies wouldn't have been trying to move a player through outright waivers unless they felt they needed a spot open on the 40-man roster in the near future.This suggests a few things about what the Rockies may be looking to do before opening day.
Firstly, if the Rockies were to return Rule 5 bullpen candidate Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees, they'd get that 40-man spot. Does this mean that the Rockies intend to break camp with Kahnle? Possibly, unless they also intend to purchase yet another player to the roster.
There are two non-roster players in the mix for 40-man roster spots right now: infielder Paul Janish, who could easily be described as the Spring MVP, who has surprised no one with his defensive success, definitely has surprised everyone with his offensive production. Now that it seems certain that the Rockies intend to use the 25th roster spot for another infielder, this could be a move to make room for Janish if the team has chosen him over Ryan Wheeler or another possible infielder.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post has floated the idea that backstop Michael McKenry may be the player in question here. this concerns me for a couple of reasons, most notably that because the out-of-options Jordan Pacheco is still on the roster, the team may intend to use Pacheco as that extra infielder, a position on the roster that he has not excelled in over the past two seasons. Pacheco was a much easier pill to swallow as a backup catcher, but if Pacheco's offensive woes continue, plus his poor defense in the infield, this could be a really bad idea to start the season, especially with other infielders having good Springs.
The Rockies could add McKenry to the roster and then option him to the minors in an attempt to circumvent an out clause in his minor league contract. However, no out clause has been reported publicly that I have found. We may not know the specifics here for a few more days, but it seems reasonable that the Rockies intend to promote one or both of McKenry and Janish to the roster.