Oakland has certainly hit a rough patch in recent years, but can 2018 change that? While it doesn’t seem likely, A’s fans have a lot to cheer for in the upcoming years with steadily increasing budget and a fun young core.

First, let’s dive into a possible 2018 roster for the Oakland A’s.

C: Bruce Maxwell, Josh Phegley
1B: Matt Olson, Mark Canha
2B: Jed Lowrie
SS: Marcus Semien, Chad Pinder
3B: Matt Chapman
LF: Matt Joyce
CF: Boog Powell, Jake Smolinski
RF: Stephen Piscotty
DH: Khris Davis

SP: Kendall Graveman (RHP)
SP: Sean Manaea (LHP)
SP: Andrew Triggs (RHP)
SP: Jharel Cotton (RHP)
SP: Daniel Mengden (RHP)


RP: Daniel Coulombe (LHP)
RP: Liam Hendricks (RHP)
RP: Ryan Dull (RHP)
RP: Emilio Pagan (RHP)
LR: Yusmeiro Petit (RHP)
SU: Santiago Casilla (RHP)
CP: Blake Treinen (RHP)

…..could use work. While it doesn’t look excellent on paper, there is certainly promise for the future. Notably, the A’s infield could be among the better ones in a couple years. Matt Chapman, a Connor Kurcon favorite, is a work in progress offensively (evidenced by his .234 AVG and .313 OBP), but is an excellent defender. In just 84 games (roughly ½ of a season) he saved 10 runs defensively at third base, only behind Anthony Rendon. Need more stats? He also led third baseman in range factor at 3.40. The next one behind him was Seager at 2.93, and Arenado at 2.77. Or in other terms, the dude can use the glove. Oh, and he hit 14 home runs too. Speaking of home runs, rookie sensation Matt Olson is a source of excitement for next year and beyond. He burst on the scene last season, smacking 24 home runs and driving in 45 runs in only 59 games. This would’ve put him on pace for 60+ home runs, something we hasn’t seen since Mark McGwire or Jason Giambi did it. Of course, his breakout isn’t a sure-fire translator to next season. He struggled against lefties, hitting a measly .196 with 4 HR, showing possible inconsistencies. Point is, Oakland’s lineup can be a whole lot more deadly with a productive Olson third or fourth in the order. Beyond those two, Jed Lowrie is probably going to give when he usually does – solid play and a filled spot on the lineup card. Even so, he’s a big part of the lineup when he’s healthy. Another player to look out for is Marcus Semien. He has legit power and speed, but lacks consistency and defensive prowess. Luckily, Matt Chapman is less than 90 feet away, covering a significant amount of the left side of the infield. Oakland has some big promise in the minor leagues as well, with top-prospect Franklin Barreto and speedy middle infielder Jorge Mateo. Barreto, unlike Mateo, should be ready next year in a starting gig, or possibly on the 2018 roster. Overall, Oakland has some solid depth and intrigue with their infield this season and beyond.

Now, here’s where the A’s could vastly improve. Currently, Oakland only has one clear-cut catcher, Bruce Maxwell. Maxwell had a poor 2017 season and was arrested for possession of a weapon this offseason. Suffice to say, it might be time for another addition. Perhaps they could pursue hot-ticket Marlin J.T. Realmuto, or a cheaper option via free agency in Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy may be a more reasonable option, however, since they have a capable prospect in Sean Murphy. He isn’t quite MLB ready but he could be a staple in the bigs in a couple seasons.

On to the outfield. The A’s made a surprising deal earlier this offseason in acquiring Stephen Piscotty from the St. Louis Cardinals. Piscotty had a poor 2017 season, hitting .235 with 9 HR and 39 RBI in just 341 at bats. His track record though (.268 AVG and 38 home runs), points towards a more “normal” 2018 season. I also think Piscotty has a great swing and approach, making me believe last year was a fluke. In left, Matt Joyce will likely take the reigns. He isn’t an on-base machine or pure hitter, but he did a solid job driving runs in last season, particularly against right handed pitching. Center field should be another interesting case. While they could go to free agency, a platoon of Jake Smolinski and Boog Powell could be their core. Both have lacked sustained success in the majors, but their management could agree on letting the youngsters play. Powell, though, boasts a higher potential than Smolinski. You may be wondering, where is Khris Davis? Luckily, the answer is at DH. Davis was horrible in the outfield in 2017. His notoriously poor arm gave the A’s one outfield assist last season. 40 other left fielders exceeded that number. His feel for the spot was awful, so moving him to DH and employing Piscotty in right field will dramatically improve their previously terrible defense. Now, Khris can do what he is payed to do…hit home runs.

Oakland’s rotation has a lot of youth and promise, but there are few “sure things” as we speak. Kendall Graveman is the most consistent of the bunch, and should take the number one spot in the rotation, barring struggles or a breakout from any of the other starters. Sean Manaea certainly has good stuff, but is still looking to prove himself as one of the best in the organization. Andrew Triggs, who played with them last season, is projected to join a battle with Daniel Mengden (whom I interviewed for Six Man Rotation), Jharel Cotton, and Jesse Hahn. They don’t have a definitive ace, but the A’s should at least have several options to fill the 5 spots. In the future, they’ll add even more competition with prospects A.J. Puk, Jesus Luzardo, James Kaprelian, and more. The future is bright, but it’s hard to tell if the tunnel is leading to it.



Lastly, let’s dive into the A’s bullpen. In a couple under the radar moves, Billy Beane and co. put some finishing touches on what should be an average of solid ‘pen. First off, they added veteran workhouse Yusmeiro Petit on a two-year pact. Petit surprised many in the baseball world out of the Angels’ bullpen last year, posting a 2.76 ERA with 101 Ks, a big difference from his 4.31 career ERA. He should fit quite nicely among the A’s young staff, as he can be effective out of the bullpen and rotation. They also bolstered their ‘pen with Emilio Pagan (acquired from the Ryon Healy trade). He should provide valuable innings with Blake Treinen and Santiago Casilla at the top. Both hard-throwing righties have had closer experience, but have also struggled in said roles. Those two could make or break their relief corps next season. Daniel Coulombe, Ryan Dull and Liam Hendricks are expected to round out the group, although anything can change.

The Athletics will have a tough task to remain competitive against the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros, Rangers, and Ohtani-invested Angels, but I believe there is much to look forward to this year, and lots to keep in mind for 2019 and beyond.


(Image via Athletics Nation)

3 thoughts on “Oakland Outlook: What Can We Expect From the A’s?”

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