Category: Roster/Transactions

Meet Your 2018 Oakland A’s!

by Bill Moriarity / A’s Farm Editor

A's top prospect Franklin Barreto

Top prospect Franklin Barreto

Whatever happens with the A’s before the start of next season, one thing is certain – with many of the team’s current everyday players set to become free agents in the offseason, there’s bound to be plenty of turnover on the 25-man roster.

Center fielder Rajai Davis, first baseman Yonder Alonso, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, current shortstop Adam Rosales, as well as reliever John Axford, are all set to hit the free agent market in the offseason, and second baseman Jed Lowrie has a team option for 2018 and seems unlikely to return. Of course, most of these potential free agents are likely to be traded before the season is through but, one way or another, they’re all likely to be long-gone by the time 2018 rolls around.

The only regular position players in the starting lineup who are currently under team control for 2018 are outfielders Khris Davis and Matt Joyce, catcher Stephen Vogt, first baseman/designated hitter Ryon Healy and shortstop Marcus Semien, who will reclaim his starting shortstop role once he returns from the disabled list. Backup catcher Josh Phegley, utility infielder Chad Pinder and reserve outfielders Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski will also remain under team control for 2018. And the entire pitching staff, with the exception of Axford, will still be under control next year as well.

Of course, no one is ever certain what the A’s will do in the offseason, but it does seem as though the front office has structured this team to be ready for a big youth infusion next season – which could work well with the team’s stated intention of announcing plans for a new stadium before the end of the year.

So, disregarding any potential trades or free agent signings, let’s just assume that the A’s do decide to move forward with a full-on youth movement next season, stocking the roster with as many prospects as possible who are currently in the team’s minor league system. No one is saying that they will, or that they should, but just for the fun of it, let’s take a look at what a young, prospect-laden A’s team could potentially look like in 2018.

As previously mentioned, the pitching staff is already full of fairly young arms under team control, so any big changes would primarily involve position players, which is what we’ll mainly focus on here, though we will briefly touch on 2018’s potential pitching staff as well. It’s worth noting that every single position player proposed below for a potential prospect-laden A’s roster is currently age 29 or under, with Khris Davis the only potential everyday.player currently over the age of 26.

 

CATCHERS

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

The team’s current catching corps is set to be under team control for next year. 32-year-old Stephen Vogt is earning $2.965 million this season and will be eligible for arbitration for the second time in the offseason, while 29-year-old Josh Phegley is earning just $545,000 this year and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. With Vogt struggling so far this season and set to receive a raise through the arbitration system next year, this looks like an obvious spot to make a move to get younger. 26-year-old catcher Bruce Maxwell seems to have mastered Triple-A at this point, with a career slash line of .318/.386/.527 in the Pacific Coast League. And he’s looked fairly solid both at the plate and behind the plate during his 42 major league games for the A’s last year and this year. If the team does decide to put the left-handed-hitting Maxwell behind the dish next season, then it would make plenty of sense to keep Phegley around as his right-handed-hitting counterpart, and to try to make a deal to trade the popular Vogt either this summer or in the offseason to a club that’s looking for a little veteran catching help.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Jaycob Brugman

Jaycob Brugman

When we look at the A’s outfield picture for 2018, two things seem fairly certain: one Davis will stay and one Davis will go. 29-year-old left fielder Khris Davis, who’s hit 54 home runs since joining the A’s last season, is clearly the best-hitting outfielder on the A’s roster and seems likely to stick around. Davis is under team control for two more seasons, and he could serve as the most veteran presence on a young A’s squad next year while manning left field and holding down the cleanup spot. But 36-year-old center fielder Rajai Davis was always intended to serve as a one-year rental and is expected to depart via free agency in the offseason. One of last year’s other free agent signings, 32-year-old right fielder Matt Joyce, was signed to a two-year deal but has severely under-performed so far for the A’s. With one year left on his contract after this season, the team could try to foist him off on a contending club looking for a veteran left-handed bat, even if it means having to eat part of his deal. If the A’s do decide to go with a youth movement next year, there really won’t be much room on the roster for an under-achieving veteran outfielder with sub-par defensive skills. The A’s could replace Joyce in right field with 23-year-old slugger Matt Olson, who currently has 9 home runs, a .349 on-base percentage and a .508 slugging percentage for the Sounds while also leading the team with 19 walks. Olson has long been looked at as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the system and, though he’s mainly been playing first base for Nashville this season, he primarily played right field last year at Triple-A, has appeared at the position in half of his major league games, and has looked solid as a corner outfielder, where his strong arm can come in handy. Olson would immediately represent a defensive upgrade in the outfield and, potentially, an offensive one as well. When it comes to replacing Rajai in center, finding a successor in the A’s system could be tough since the A’s organization is sorely lacking in true center fielders, but there is one possible replacement who might be worth taking a chance on, and that’s Jaycob Brugman. Many in the A’s front office seem to feel that the 25-year-old is better-suited to serve as a part-time center fielder and really view him as more of a corner outfielder. And while he may not have the quickness and the range that one would ideally like to see in a true center fielder, it’s been a while since the A’s have had the luxury of having a true center fielder, and Brugman has shown a propensity for out-performing expectations at every level. He’s also experienced, having played more games in center field than at any other position in his minor league career. And while appearing in 154 games in center, Brugman has made just 2 errors at the position. Then there’s the fact that, while serving as the Sounds’ primary leadoff hitter, he’s boasting a .377/.441/.472 slash line this season since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. The former 17th-round draft pick has over-achieved at every minor league level, and he could do the same at the major league level as the A’s center fielder in 2018. It’s worth noting that Brugman and Olson are both left-handed hitters, but 28-year-old right-handed-hitting outfielders Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski both remain under team control for another few years and could be available to serve as platoon partners if needed.

 

INFIELDERS

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

The A’s could be due for the biggest turnover in the infield next year. 30-year-old first baseman Yonder Alonso, 30-year-old third baseman Trevor Plouffe, and soon-to-be-34-year-old utility infielder Adam Rosales are all expected to depart via free agency after the season, if they’re not dealt before then, while 33-year-old second baseman Jed Lowrie’s contract has a club option for 2018, which essentially puts him in the same boat as the rest. The only starting infielder expected to return is 26-year-old shortstop Marcus Semien, who remains under team control through 2020. Fortunately, the A’s do have some talented young players to put around him in the infield, including top prospects Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto as well as a number of other promising young players. The 24-year-old Chapman has been the A’s top third base prospect since the day the team made him its top draft pick in June of 2014. He hit 23 home runs in just 304 at-bats for Stockton in 2015, mashed 36 between Midland and Nashville last year, and has hit 8 in just 88 at-bats while boasting a .557 slugging percentage so far this season for the Sounds. And to top it off, Chapman is also considered a top defender at the hot corner with an elite throwing arm. Widely considered to be the A’s top hitting prospect, Barreto just turned 21 a few months ago, but he’s already been tearing it up at Triple-A this year, putting up an impressive .320/.369/.510 slash line for the Sounds so far this season. Though Barreto has spent most of his time at the shortstop position, he’s also seen some time at second base, and many in the A’s front office have openly talked about the likelihood of him having to make the move to the other side of the bag, where the A’s are likely to soon have an opening. 25-year-old infielder Ryon Healy debuted with a bang for Oakland last season, posting a .305/.337/.524 slash line for the A’s. He’s been hitting at a more average pace so far this season while primarily serving in the designated hitter role, but Healy still holds plenty of promise. And given the chance to move out of the DH spot and play every day in the field at first base for the A’s in 2018 could be just what he needs to get back on track and really show what he can do. And speaking of designated hitters, 23-year-old slugger Renato Nunez has spent most of his minor league career playing third base, but since Matt Chapman has returned to health at Nashville, Nunez has been spending most of his time alternating between left field and the designated hitter spot for the Sounds. Nunez’s power has always been real, and he currently leads his team in home runs and doubles with 10 of each while sporting a .536 slugging percentage, and he even managed to hit a ball clear out of First Tennessee Park in Thursday night’s game. With his power bat and his defensive deficiencies, Nunez seems perfectly-suited to serve in the designated hitter role. And in a limited sample so far this season, 25-year-old infielder Chad Pinder has looked like one of the A’s best hitters. He’s gotten starts at shortstop, at second base, in the outfield and as the designated hitter so far for the A’s, and he’s also spent time at third base in college and in the minors. Pinder’s versatility could make him well-suited for a super-utility role, spelling Barreto at second, Semien at short and Chapman at third, while also filling in in the outfield and as well as in the designated hitter spot. We all know how much the A’s value versatility, and Pinder’s positional flexibility could make him a valuable piece for a young A’s team in 2018.

 

PITCHERS

Kendall Graveman

Kendall Graveman

As mentioned earlier, the major turnover for the A’s next year is likely to be on the position-player front, and that’s primarily because Oakland’s pitching staff is already full of fairly young arms who will be under team control for years to come. The organization currently has a dozen starting pitchers at the major league or Triple-A level who will all still be in their 20’s next year and will remain under team control for multiple years, with Sonny Gray the first to be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. These pitchers (with their current ages in parentheses) include: Sonny Gray (27), Kendall Graveman (26), Sean Manaea (25), Andrew Triggs (28), Jesse Hahn (27), Jharel Cotton (25), Chris Bassitt (28), Daniel Mengden (24), Raul Alcantara (24), Daniel Gossett (24), Paul Blackburn (23) and Zach Neal (28). That represents a fair number of fairly decent young arms who still have the potential to get much better and will remain under control for years to come. That’s not even mentioning all the talented young arms the A’s currently have below the Triple-A level, including 24-year-old RHP Corey Walter and 21-year-old RHP Grant Holmes at Midland, and 22-year-old LHP A.J. Puk and 22-year-old RHP Logan Shore at Stockton. That should give the A’s plenty of pitching options to choose from in 2018 and beyond. As for the bullpen, it looks like that’s where most of the veterans may be found for the 2018 A’s. 34-year-old RHP John Axford is the only reliever eligible for free agency in the offseason, which means that most members of the A’s bullpen could be returning, including RHPs Ryan Madson, Santiago Casilla, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Dull and Frankie Montas, along with LHPs Sean Doolittle and Daniel Coulombe, all of whom remain under team control for 2018. Of course, 25-year-old RHP Bobby Wahl and 29-year-old RHP Josh Smith, who are both currently auditioning for the A’s, could also be options, as could 26-year-old RHP Tucker Healy, who’s currently sporting a 1.29 ERA for Nashville.

 

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t necessarily a prescription, but just a look at what could happen if they A’s do decide to move forward with a full-on youth movement next season. Of course, if the team does decide to deal potential free agents like Alonso, Plouffe, Lowrie, Rosales, Rajai Davis and Axford, or possibly even veterans like Vogt and Joyce, before the season’s through, that could net a number of new prospects in return who could potentially fill even more holes on a talented young A’s team next year. But, whatever happens, it’s certain that there will be a lot of new faces on the 2018 A’s, and most likely, many of them will be much younger faces.

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A’s Option Barreto, Pinder & Olson to Nashville

A's top prospect Franklin Barreto

A’s top prospect Franklin Barreto

The A’s optioned three prospects, including the player widely considered to be their top prospect, infielder Franklin Barreto, to Triple-A Nashville after the team’s spring training loss to Arizona on Friday. Infielder Chad Pinder and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson were also optioned to the Sounds. The team now has 45 players in big league camp, including 32 players on the 40-man roster and 13 non-roster invitees.

In the past week, the A’s have optioned a total of eight players to Triple-A Nashville. In addition to Barreto, Pinder and Olson, infielders Renato Nunez and Yairo Munoz, outfielder Jaycob Brugman, and RHPs Paul Blackburn and Bobby Wahl were optioned to the Sounds earlier.

The sweet-swinging Barreto turned in an impressive .481/.500/.667 slash line in 27 at-bats this spring. He’s set to see time at shortstop as well as at second base at Nashville this season. And with A’s incumbent second baseman Jed Lowrie in the final year of his contract, Barreto eventually is expected to take over at second for the A’s, perhaps later this season.

Pinder, who already has plenty of experience at shortstop, second base and third base, is expected to see some time in the outfield as well at Nashville this season since the A’s see him as a potentially valuable, versatile utility man who could be deployed as a bit of a super sub on next year’s squad. He posted a .158/.261/.474 line in 19 spring at-bats. And Olson could contend for a left-handed-hitting platoon role at first base or in the outfield for the A’s next season. He had a .167/.286/.467 line in 30 at-bats this spring.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Meet Your 2017 Nashville Sounds

0nsIMG_2587We recently took a look at the likely A’s opening day roster for 2017, which appears to be reasonably well set, with the exception of a couple of minor question marks. This year’s Triple-A Nashville Sounds roster is a far more complicated puzzle to try to piece together at this point though. The main reason for this is that the A’s have invited a whopping 70 players to their major league spring training camp this year, and all but a handful of them already have major league or Triple-A experience and are expected to battle for 50 roster spots with Oakland and Nashville.

Some players, like LHP Felix Doubront and RHPs Chris Bassitt and Daniel Mengden, are likely to open the season on the disabled list. But if most of the others remain healthy, then that will leave plenty of players on the outside looking in. And with the A’s major league roster seeming to be fairly well set at this point, most of that roster crunch will be occurring at Nashville, and we may be looking at a fairly significant roster purge towards the end of spring training before rosters can be finalized.

While recent draftees, like LHP A.J. Puk and catcher Sean Murphy, certainly won’t be in contention to open the season anywhere near as high as Triple-A, and others players, like infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock, appear set to start the season with Double-A Midland, there are certain players who will be guaranteed plenty of regular playing time at Nashville this season no matter what happens – top prospects like Matt Chapman, Franklin Barreto and Matt Olson, as well as others.

The A’s usually like to start the season with 13 pitchers and 12 position players at the Triple-A level. And while some recent trades and injuries have helped to relieve the pitching logjam at Nashville a bit, there currently appear to be about 18 position players jockeying for 12 Triple-A roster spots at this point, so something’s definitely going to have to give there. So, with all that in mind, let’s take a look at how things are shaping up for your 2017 Nashville Sounds…

 

CATCHERS

Bruce Maxwell

Bruce Maxwell

The catching corps appears to be one of the clearer areas when it comes to the Nashville roster. If Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley are both healthy to start the season, then it looks looks likely that Bruce Maxwell will start the year back at Nashville, getting most of the starts behind the plate for the Sounds. Matt McBride, who shared time with Maxwell at Nashville last season, appears set to do the same again this year. The A’s signed catcher Ryan Lavarnway as a minor league free agent in the offseason. But just as there doesn’t appear to be room for three catchers on Oakland’s roster, there doesn’t seem to be room for three catchers on Nashville’s roster either. And since Lavarnway spent most of last season at Double-A and Midland catcher Beau Taylor is set to spend the first 50 games of the season on the suspended list, Lavarnway may need to start the year on the Double-A RockHounds roster until an opening develops in the catching corps.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Franklin Barreto

Franklin Barreto

There’s no doubt that top prospect Franklin Barreto will have the chance to get plenty of at-bats as Nashville’s starting shortstop this season. And since it appears unlikely that either Joey Wendle or Chad Pinder will be able to crack Oakland’s opening day roster at this point, then Wendle should end up seeing the majority of the starts at second base for the Sounds, just as he has for the past two seasons, with Pinder splitting time between both second and short while possibly increasing his versatility by spending some time at other spots around the diamond as well. The A’s re-signed minor league free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s spent most of his time at second and short of late, and also signed minor league free agent Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent most of his time at second and third. But if all the top prospects are healthy, it’s awfully hard to see where the at-bats are to be found for these two veteran minor leaguers. Meanwhile, infielders Yairo Munoz, Max Schrock and Richie Martin are likely to find themselves starting the season on the Double-A RockHounds roster.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman

Top power prospect Matt Chapman should find himself firmly entrenched at the hot corner for the Sounds in 2017. Renato Nunez clearly will get his share of at-bats too but, with Chapman viewed as the A’s third baseman of the future, most of them aren’t likely to be coming at third this year. Matt Olson has split time the past couple seasons between first base and right field, while minor league free agent signee Chris Parmelee, a former 1st-round pick with plenty of major league service time under his belt, is also experienced at first and in right, and he and Olson should end up sharing most of the at-bats at first and in right for the Sounds. But let’s not forget that first baseman Rangel Ravelo is still in the picture as well, though he was optioned off the 40-man roster in the offseason. The same is true of utility man Max Muncy, who has spent most of his time at first and third. The A’s signed minor league free agent infielder Jermaine Curtis, who’s spent the bulk of his time at the hot corner, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll steal many at-bats from Matt Chapman so, if he can crack the Triple-A roster, most of his at-bats would be more likely to come from his secondary position at second base. The A’s also re-signed minor free agent Josh Rodriguez, who’s also far more likely to find at-bats at second than at third, if he can find a way to make it onto the Sounds roster.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Jaycob Brugman

Jaycob Brugman

The Sounds outfield picture is another complicated one to try to piece together at this point, with far more players than spots on the roster. Starting at the top, Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski seem to have the inside track for the final two major league roster spots with Oakland. And if things play out just that way, then major league veteran Alejandro De Aza, who signed a minor league contract in the offseason, would find himself back in Triple-A. However, if De Aza should manage to beat out either Canha or Smolinski, then the odd man out in that competition could be headed back to Nashville. Of course, Smolinksi and De Aza both have plenty of experience in center field, as does Jaycob Brugman, who is ikely to get plenty of at-bats for the Sounds this season, whether he’s starting in center or in either one of the corner spots. The A’s re-signed outfielder Andrew Lambo to a minor league contract, and added minor league free agent outfielder Jaff Decker, as well as Chris Parmelee who, like returning prospect Matt Olson, has spent plenty of time both in right field and at first base. Max Muncy, who will also be in the roster mix, saw significant time in the outfield last year as well. And it’s worth noting that, De Aza, Brugman, Lambo, Decker, Parmelee, Olson and Muncy give the organization a total of 7 left-handed hitters in the Triple-A outfield mix, and that’s on a team that’s only expected to carry 12 position players – of course, catcher Matt McBride spent plenty of time in the outfield last year as well – so something’s definitely going to have to give here one way or another!

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Jesse Hahn

Jesse Hahn

Until recently, the shape of the Sounds starting rotation was looking fairly clear. But the trade of Dillon Overton and Daniel Mengden’s recent foot injury have left things a little less clear. What is clear is that if RHP Jesse Hahn can’t beat out RHPs Andrew Triggs or Jharel Cotton, the favorites to fill the final two spots in the A’s rotation, then Hahn will wind up heading up the Sounds starting five. Two other apparent certainties to join him there are flame-throwing RHP Frankie Montas and former 2nd-round draft pick Daniel Gossett, who finished out the season strong for the Sounds. Beyond those three, the pitching picture starts to get a little murkier, though that’s certainly not for a dearth of viable candidates. LHP Ross Detwiler signed a minor league contract to remain with the organization, but since he has an opt-out clause, he could depart if not guaranteed a spot on the major league roster. But should he decide to stay, then he would likely garner a spot in the Sounds rotation. RHP Raul Alcantara could also be in the mix, but he’s out of options, and it seems unlikely that the A’s would try to sneak him through waivers to get him back on the Nashville roster. RHPs Zach Neal and Chris Smith were two of Nashville’s top starters last season, so they would represent a couple of experienced options, but both primarily shifted to working out of the bullpen during the latter part of last season. Meanwhile, a pair of RHPs the A’s signed as minor league free agents could represent two of the team’s top options – Cesar Valdez, who posted an impressive 1-to-9 walk-to-strikeout ratio for Triple-A Fresno last year, and Michael Brady, who put up a solid 2.89 ERA between Triple-A and Double-A last season. RHP Paul Blackburn, who spent all of last season at Double-A, could fight his way into the competition, as could RHP Heath Fillmyer, but both may be more likely to kick off the year at Midland. RHP Daniel Mengden, who recently underwent foot surgery, and RHP Chris Bassitt and LHP Felix Doubront, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgery, will all prominently factor into the Sounds pitching picture as soon as they’re ready to return to action as well.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Bobby Wahl

Bobby Wahl

There should be no shortage of candidates to fill out the 8 spots in the Sounds bullpen this season. If the A’s should decide to keep RHP Raul Alcantara on the major league roster, since he’s out of options, and there are no further pitching injuries or trades at the major league level, then LHP Daniel Coulombe is likely to find himself starting the year back at Nashville. RHP Bobby Wahl, who posted a 2.65 ERA and 14 saves across three levels last year, RHP Tucker Healy, who struck out 76 in 52 1/3 innings for Nashville in 2016, and RHP Aaron Kurcz all seem likely to return to Music City as well. The A’s also signed minor league free agent RHPs Josh Smith, Tyler Sturdevant and Simon Castro, all of whom have some degree of major league experience under their belts and seem destined to be a part of Nashville’s relief corps this year. The final spots in the Sounds bullpen are likely to be filled by whoever among Zach Neal, Chris Smith, Michael Brady and Cesar Valdez don’t end up finding spots in the Sounds starting rotation. And unless injuries strike, it doesn’t appear that there will be any room for RHPs Trey Cochran-Gill or Sam Bragg, both of whom had solid seasons for Midland last year, to make the move up to Triple-A to start the season.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

Meet Your 2017 Oakland A’s

0IMG_2486cAs the 2016 season came to an end and the A’s headed into the offseason, there were an awful lot of questions regarding the team’s roster for the coming season, and many of those questions still remained unanswered as the calendar turned to 2017. But a quartet of January free agent signings, along with a number of other minor moves, seems to have solidified the shape of the A’s roster for 2017.

At one time, it appeared that a number of rookie hitters might stand a good chance of making the 2017 opening day roster, including players such as catcher Bruce Maxwell and infielders Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle. But the way things are now shaping up, barring injuries, it looks like the A’s are likely to start the season with no rookie position players on the roster and perhaps just one or two rookie pitchers on the opening day squad.

Of course, the A’s being the A’s, it’s entirely possible that the front office could still have a few unexpected tricks up its sleeve before opening day. But after the flurry of roster moves over the past month, here’s how things are now shaping up for your 2017 Oakland A’s…

 

CATCHERS

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt was named to the American League All-Star squad for the second straight season last year, and the A’s current clubhouse leader is set to return as the team’s primary catcher again this season. Josh Phegley, who appeared in 73 games for Oakland in 2015, made it into just 25 games for the A’s last year due to injuries. Phegley has apparently recovered from last summer’s knee surgery and, as long as he’s healthy, is expected to serve as Vogt’s platoon partner in 2017. Rookie receiver Bruce Maxwell had an impressive Triple-A campaign and looked solid in 33 late-season games with the A’s last year. So if there are any health issues with Phegley or Vogt to start the year or at any point during the season, then Maxwell should be poised to step right in and pick up the slack.

 

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Marcus Semien

Marcus Semien

Slugging shortstop Marcus Semien hit 27 home runs while appearing in a total of 159 games for Oakland in 2016. The iron-man infielder played in more games than any other member of the A’s squad for the second straight season, and we can probably expect to see more of the same kind of endurance from Semien again this year. Meanwhile, second baseman Jed Lowrie, in his second stint with the A’s, missed the final two months last season while undergoing foot surgery. The team expects him to be recovered from the procedure and has anointed him as its starting second baseman for the coming season, as long as he remains healthy. The A’s also signed infielder Adam Rosales as a free agent in late January, and one would expect that the versatile veteran could fill in fairly regularly for Lowrie at second base while also giving Semien a few more days off at shortstop over the course of the season. With Semien, Lowrie and Rosales in the picture, it doesn’t leave much room for other middle infielders like Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder, who are likely to be available at Nashville if any infield replacements are needed. Also waiting in the wings at Nashville will be shortstop (and possible future second baseman) Franklin Barreto, who’s considered the A’s top hitting prospect.

 

CORNER INFIELDERS

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Ryon Healy

Another one of the A’s January free agent signings was former Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe, whom the team made clear would serve as its starting third baseman, shifting young slugger Ryon Healy to first base and the designated hitter spot. Last year’s primary first baseman Yonder Alonso has been retained and the left-handed hitter is expected to man the position while righties are on the mound. Healy, who proved himself at the plate last year, is expected to be a regular in the lineup, likely serving as the designated hitter much of the time while possibly shifting back to his natural position at first base when Alonso sits against lefties. That would open up the designated hitter spot against lefties. Mark Canha missed most of last season after undergoing hip surgery but is expected to be at full strength come spring training. A’s general manager David Forst has frequently spoken favorably of Canha over the course of the offseason, and he would seem to be the most likely candidate for the role, while also being available to fill in at first base as well as in the outfield. If reinforcements are needed at the corner spots, the A’s top power-hitting prospect, third baseman Matt Chapman, will be just one step away at Nashville, as will other young sluggers like Renato Nunez and first baseman/outfielder Matt Olson.

 

OUTFIELDERS

Khris Davis

Khris Davis

Khris Davis clubbed 42 home runs while serving as the A’s starting left fielder last season and, fortunately for A’s fans, they can expect to be seeing the big bopper back in the cleanup spot for the green and gold again this year. American League stolen-base leader Rajai Davis was signed as a free agent to man center field and bat leadoff, while veteran left-handed hitter Matt Joyce was signed to be the team’s starting right fielder against righties, with returning right-handed hitter Jake Smolinski expected to serve as his platoon partner against lefties. Mark Canha, who is likely to see some time at first base and in the designated hitter spot, could also be available to fill in in the outfield corners. Meanwhile, down on the farm, two young left-handed hitting prospects who could step in and fill outfield roles if needed, Matt Olson and Jaycob Brugman, should be back for their second seasons at Nashville. And joining them there will likely be another left-handed-hitting outfielder, this one with plenty of major league experience, 32-year-old veteran Alejandro De Aza, who was signed to a minor league contract last month.

 

STARTING PITCHERS

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

There really don’t seem to be too many big question marks about the A’s starting rotation at this point. Sonny Gray, Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea are set to top the starting five. And since Daniel Mengden recently fractured a bone in his right foot, it’s now even more likely that the final two spots in the rotation will be filled by a pair of pitchers the A’s front office has repeatedly spoken highly of during the offseason, rookie Jharel Cotton and reliever-turned-starter Andrew Triggs. The A’s used a total of 14 different starting pitchers last year though, so we’ll probably end up seeing plenty of other names in the starting mix before the season’s through. Jesse Hahn, who made 9 starts for the A’s last season, is likely to start the year at Nashville and could be called upon if needed. A pair of pitchers who each made at least half a dozen starts for the A’s in 2017, Ross Detwiler and Zach Neal, should be available at Triple-A as well. Flame-thrower Frankie Montas, who’s on the 40-man roster, is also expected to start at Nashville, as is 2014 2nd-round pick Daniel Gossett. Raul Alcantara, who made 5 starts for the A’s late last year and is out of options, may very well end up serving as a long man out of the A’s bullpen but could always shift back into a starting role if needed. And, of course, once he recuperates from his foot injury, Mengden will be available again at some point, as will righty Chris Bassitt and lefty Felix Doubront, both of whom are returning from Tommy John surgery.

 

RELIEF PITCHERS

Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

Much like the starting rotation, the A’s bullpen picture appears to be fairly clear as well, with just a couple of key questions remaining. With the A’s surprising signing of former Giants closer Santiago Casilla in January, the big question is whether Ryan Madson will return to the closer’s role for Oakland in 2017 or if Casilla will wind up displacing him. However it ends up shaking out though, the pair should serve as two of the team’s top late-inning options. Joining them will be fellow righties John Axford, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Dull as well as southpaw Sean Doolittle. If the A’s would like to have a second lefty in the bullpen, then Daniel Coulombe, who appeared in 35 games for the A’s last year and is the only other left-handed reliever on the 40-man roster, would seem to be the obvious choice. 24-year-old right-hander Raul Alcantara is out of options though, so the A’s may want to use that final spot to protect the young starter and have him serve as the long-man out of the bullpen. But if the A’s wanted to hang on to Alcantara and have a second lefty in the bullpen as well, then they could always consider trading one of their other relievers. If they did decide to do that, then someone like Axford, who is in the final year of his contract and is owed $5.5 million this year, would seem to be the most likely candidate. And if any bullpen reinforcements are needed, one of the top options this year could be right-hander Bobby Wahl, who’s on the 40-man roster, struck out 10.8 batters per 9 innings across three minor league levels in 2017 and finished the year with 4 saves over the last month of the season at Nashville.

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A’s 2017 Non-Roster Invitees

The A’s announced their list of non-roster invitees to major league spring training camp on Thursday. A number of them are recently-signed minor league free agents, but many spent last season with the organization as well.

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

–New Position Players–

rl543432C Ryan Lavarnway

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 21 after playing in the Atlanta and Toronto farm systems in 2016. He combined to hit .266 with six home runs and 48 RBI in 91 games with Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A New Hampshire.

3B-2B Jermaine Curtis

Signed as a minor league free agent after hitting .291 with nine home runs and 50 RBI in 89 games with Triple-A Louisville in the Reds organization. He added 42 walks for a .404 on-base percentage.

OF-1B Chris Parmelee

Went 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBI in six games with New York (AL) last year and is a .248 career hitter with 30 home runs and 98 RBI in 311 games over six seasons in the majors. He spent most of 2016 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he hit .248 with 11 home runs and 29 RBI in 64 games. He signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 19.

OF Jaff Decker

Hit .154 in 19 games with Tampa Bay last year and is a .162 career hitter in 60 games over four seasons in the majors. He also batted .255 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 99 games with Triple-A Durham. He signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 22.

OF Kenny Wilson

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 15. He combined to hit .255 with three home runs, 32 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 125 games with Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans in the Miami organization.

UPDATE:

OF Alejandro De Aza

Free agent outfielder Alejandro De Aza signed a minor league contract, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He spent the entire 2016 season with the New York Mets and hit .205 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 130 games.  He is a .261 career hitter in 810 games in nine Major League seasons with Florida (2007, 09), Chicago-AL (2010-14), Baltimore (2014-15), Boston (2015), San Francisco (2015) and New York-NL (2016).

 

–Returning Position Players–

mm473724bC-OF Matt McBride

Hit .209 with two RBI in 20 games with Oakland last year. He also batted .267 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 70 games with Nashville.

C Sean Murphy

Was the A’s third round selection in the 2016 draft and batted .228 with two home runs and seven RBI in 23 games in his professional debut with short-season Vermont and the A’s affiliate in the Arizona Rookie League.

2B-SS Josh Rodriguez

Returns for his second straight camp with the A’s as a non-roster invitee. He played for Midland and Nashville in 2016 and hit .263 with nine home runs and 53 RBI in 88 games.

3B Matt Chapman

The A’s first round pick in the 2014 draft returns for his second straight big league camp. He combined to hit .237 with 36 home runs and 96 RBI in 135 games with Double-A Midland and Nashville. He ranked third in all of minor league baseball in home runs and tied for 10th in RBI.

SS Richie Martin

The A’s first round pick in the 2015 draft returns for his second consecutive big league camp. He combined for a .235 average, three home runs, 38 RBI and 14 stolen bases in 91 games with Stockton and Midland.

2B Max Schrock

Was acquired from Washington for Marc Rzepczynski Aug. 25. He led all of minor league baseball with 177 hits after batting .331 with 32 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 71 RBI in 129 games with Stockton, Midland, Single-A Potomac and Single-A Hagerstown.

OF Andrew Lambo

Appeared in one game with Oakland and also hit .255 with four home runs and 30 RBI in 56 games with Nashville before missing the last half of the season following a diagnosis of testicular cancer.

UPDATES:

1B Rangel Ravelo

First baseman Rangel Ravelo cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He spent the entire 2016 season at Nashville, where he batted .262 with eight home runs and 54 RBI in 106 games.

1B-3B Max Muncy

Infielder Max Muncy cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He appeared in 51 games for Oakland and 64 games at Nashville in 2016.

 

–New Pitchers–

mb572728RHP Michael Brady

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 15. He combined for a 3-6 record and a 2.89 ERA in 18 games (12 starts) with Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in the Washington organization in 2016.

RHP Cesar Valdez

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 17 after going 12-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) with Triple-A Fresno in the Houston organization. He ranked third in the Pacific Coast League in ERA and tied for fourth in wins. He walked 13 and struck out 114 in 138 1/3 innings.

RHP Josh Smith

Was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati Nov. 4 and outrighted to Nashville Nov. 18. He went 3-3 with a 4.68 ERA in 32 games (two starts) with the Reds. He was also 4-4 with a 3.80 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Triple-A Louisville.

RHP Tyler Sturdevant

Signed as a minor league free agent Nov. 11. He went 0-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 16 relief appearances in his major league debut with Tampa Bay last year. He was also 3-2 with four saves and a 3.66 ERA in 34 games with Durham.

RHP Simon Castro

Signed as a minor league free agent after going 0-5 with 10 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 50 relief appearances with Triple-A Albuquerque in the Colorado farm system.

 

–Returning Pitchers–

fd467094LHP Felix Doubront

Missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing UCL reconstruction surgery April 12.

RHP Chris Smith

Was a non-roster invitee with the A’s last year. He went 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA in 22 starts at Nashville before joining Oakland Aug. 7. He had no decisions, a 2.92 ERA and .165 opponents batting average in 13 relief appearances with the A’s.

RHP Daniel Gossett

The A’s second round pick in the 2014 draft pitched for Stockton, Midland and Nashville in 2016 and combined for a 10-6 record and a 2.69 ERA in 27 appearances, all starts. He led the A’s farm system with 151 strikeouts.

RHP Heath Fillmyer

Oakland’s fifth round pick in the 2014 draft combined for a 7-6 record and a 3.29 ERA in 26 games, including 24 starts, with Single-A Stockton and Midland.

RHP Tucker Healy

A 23rd round selection in the 2012 draft, he spent the entire 2016 season at Nashville where he went 4-3 with eight saves, a 3.61 ERA and .202 opponents batting average in 44 relief appearances. He struck out 76 in 52 1/3 innings.

RHP Ryan Brasier (sold to Hiroshima Carp)

Second straight season as a non-roster invitee with the A’s. He was 5-3 with a save, a 3.56 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings over 46 relief appearances with Triple-A Nashville. (UPDATE: Ryan Brasier has been sold by the A’s to the Hiroshima Carp of the Japanese Central League.)

RHP Aaron Kurcz

Combined for a 9-1 record, five saves, a 3.03 ERA and .211 opponents batting average in 46 appearances with Midland and Nashville. He was acquired by the A’s from Atlanta for international bonus slot 4 on July 6, 2015.

RHP Trey Cochran-Gill

Was acquired from Seattle for Evan Scribner following the 2015 season and went 4-5 with a 3.07 ERA in 42 relief appearances with Midland in 2016. He added a 1.84 ERA in 10 relief appearances with Mesa in the Arizona Fall League.

LHP A.J. Puk

Was the A’s first round choice in the 2016 draft and went 0-4 with a 3.03 ERA and .185 opponents batting average in 10 starts with Vermont in his professional debut. He struck out 40 in 32 2/3 innings.

UPDATE:

LHP Ross Detwiler

Left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler signed a minor league contract, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He was acquired by the A’s from Cleveland in a minor league deal July 17 and combined for a 2-4 record and a 6.10 ERA in 16 major league games, including seven starts.  He was also 6-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, with Triple-A Columbus and Nashville. Detwiler appeared in 9 games for Oakland and 4 games at Nashville in 2016.

RHP Zach Neal

Pitcher Zach Neal cleared waivers, was assigned to Triple-A Nashville, and was added to the list of non-roster invitees to the A’s major league spring training camp. He made his Major League debut with Oakland last year and went 2-4 with two saves and a 4.24 ERA in 24 games, including six starts, over four stints with the A’s.  He allowed a .265 opponents batting average but issued just six walks in 70.0 innings for a .281 on-base percentage.  Neal was also 7-2 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts with Triple-A Nashville where he walked just eight batters in 61.2 innings.

(Information provided by A’s Media Relations)

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A’s Send Down 11 Players This Week – 6 Become Free Agents

So long, Sogie - nerd power is no more.

So long, Sogie – nerd power is no more.

The A’s front office began the arduous process of paring the team’s roster down to 40 this week. With all the players on the disabled list needing to be activated in the offseason as well as a number of promising young prospects needing to be added to the roster in order to be protected in the Rule-5 draft, the task is particularly difficult this year.

The A’s begun the paring process on Wednesday when they outrighted pitcher Chris Smith and catcher Matt McBride to Nashville. The team followed that on Thursday by outrighting infielders Eric Sogard and Tyler Ladendorf, outfielder Andrew Lambo and pitchers Fernando Rodriguez, J.B. Wendelken and Donn Roach to Nashville and also announced that utility man Arismendy Alcantara was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati, then finished up by outrighting pitchers Jarrod Parker, Felix Doubront and Henderson Alvarez to Nashville on Friday.

Later on Friday, six of those players who were outrighted elected free agency – infielder Eric Sogard, catcher Matt McBride and pitchers Fernando Rodriguez, Jarrod Parker, Felix Doubront and Henderson Alvarez. Their tenure with the A’s has effectively ended, unless they choose to re-sign with the team, but they are now free to sign with any team.

With the recent subtractions, there are currently 38 players remaining on the A’s roster – 19 pitchers and 19 position players. Two of those players, outfielder Sam Fuld and pitcher Ross Detwiler, are eligible for free agency. And once they declare, as expected, the A’s roster will then stand at 36, which will enable the team to add infielder Franklin Barreto, outfielder Jaycob Brugman and relievers Bobby Wahl and Tucker Healy to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule-5 draft. All have performed well in their time at the Triple-A level and could be prime targets for other organizations if the A’s were to leave them unprotected.

Of course, this is the A’s, so further roster changes could occur at any time. But for now, you can check out the A’s current roster here.

 

 

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A’s Set Fall Instructional League Roster

0dsc04060xThe A’s released their Fall Instructional League roster on Monday morning. Camp is set to open at the A’s minor league facilities in Arizona next week and will run for a month.

22 pitchers and 27 position players are currently scheduled to attend. And some high-profile prospects like recently-acquired pitcher Grant Holmes, last year’s 1st-round draft pick Richie Martin and 17-year-old Dominican prospect Lazaro Armenteros will be participating.

Also attending will be the A’s top five picks from this year’s draft – promising pitchers A.J. Puk, Daulton Jefferies, Logan Shore and Skylar Szynski as well as catcher Sean Murphy. You can see the full list of A’s prospects who are set to appear in camp below…

 

–PITCHERS–

ap640462

A.J. Puk

Nolan Blackwood

Argenis Blanco

Brendan Butler

Dakota Chalmers

Ty Damron

Dustin Driver

Angel Duno

Will Gilbert

Nick Highberger

Grant Holmes

Dustin Hurlbutt

Daulton Jefferies

Casey Meisner

Abdiel Mendoza

A.J. Puk

Miguel Sanchez

Dalton Sawyer

Logan Shore

Skylar Szynski

Andrew Tomasovich

Oscar Tovar

Tyler Willman

 

sm669221

Sean Murphy

–CATCHERS–

Jarrett Costa

Roger Gonzalez

Sean Murphy

Collin Theroux

Skyler Weber

 

–INFIELDERS–

rm621006c

Richie Martin

George Bell

Marcos Brito

Chris Iriart

Eric Marinez

Richie Martin

Miguel Mercedes

Nate Mondou

Christopher Quintin

JaVon Shelby

Yerdel Vargas

Josh Vidales

Eli White

 

–OUTFIELDERS–

sb621450

Skye Bolt

Lazaro Armenteros

Rob Bennie

Skye Bolt

Anthony Churlin

Jeramiah McCray

Kyle Nowlin

Luke Persico

Tyler Ramirez

Kevin Richards

James Terrell

 

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A’s 2016 Minor League Rosters

Just follow the links we’ve provided here to take a look at the opening rosters for each of the A’s top affiliates this season. We’ve also included a link to the major league squad along with a few notes on each of the rosters below…

 

Both position players who were on the bubble for the A’s – Sam Fuld and Eric Sogard – opened the season on the disabled list, making the decision about what to do with each of them an easy one for Oakland. Pitchers Felix Doubront, Henderson Alvarez, R.J. Alvarez and Jarrod Parker also opened the season on the DL. And Doubront’s last-minute arm injury opened the door for outfielder Andrew Lambo to open the season with the big league squad…

Oakland Athletics Roster

 

Top prospects Matt Olson, Renato Nunez, Chad Pinder, Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton highlight Nashville’s opening day roster this season…

Nashville Sounds Roster

 

Top infield prospects Matt Chapman and Franklin Barreto headline Midland’s roster. They’re joined by returning RockHounds Ryon Healy, Jaycob Brugman and Carson Blair

Midland RockHounds Roster

 

Pitchers Daniel Gossett, Brett Graves and Heath Fillmyer move up from Beloit to join recent trade acquisition Zack Erwin and returning Ports pitcher Casey Meisner to form Stockton starting rotation this season…

Stockton Ports Roster

 

Promising pitcher Dustin Driver and talented outfielder Skye Bolt highlight Beloit’s opening day roster…

Beloit Snappers Roster

 

It looks like two promising infield prospects – Yairo Munoz and Richie Martin – will start the 2016 season on the sidelines. Munoz has dealt with nagging heel and quad injuries this spring, while Martin underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and is not expected to be back before late May.

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Be sure to like A’s Farm’s page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @AthleticsFarm. You can also get our exclusive A’s minor league newsletter e-mailed to you free by signing up here.

A’s Top 5 Replacement Players for 2016

A's top pitching prospect - and America's next top hair model - Sean Manaea

A’s top pitching prospect – and America’s next top hair model – Sean Manaea

When it comes to the look of the A’s opening day roster this year, there aren’t really that many question marks at this point. Of course, that original 25-man roster will end up going through plenty of permutations once the season gets underway. And unexpected injuries are bound to pop up and open the door for deserving minor leaguers who are looking to land a spot on the major league roster.

We all know that the A’s will have plenty of top prospects at Triple-A Nashville this year – players like Matt Olson, Chad Pinder, Renato Nunez and Sean Manaea. But when injuries arise during the season and a replacement is needed, it’s not always the team’s top young prospects that will be the first to get the call. There are a couple of other important factors that will often come into play when a team is looking for replacements at the major league level. One is a player’s status on the 40-man roster and the other is a player’s previous major league experience.

More often than not, a player who’s already on the team’s 40-man roster will be the first to get the call, since adding a player who’s not on the 40-man roster will require making an additonal roster move that could expose another player who might end up being lost to another organization. And all things being equal, most teams, including the A’s, usually prefer to be able to add a player who’s already gotten his feet wet in the majors before. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the players who could be the first to get the call should reinforcements be needed from Nashville this season.

 

rd623430Ryan Dull (RP)

Dull impressed in 13 late-season relief appearances for the A’s last year, and many thought he’d shown enough to earn himself a spot in the A’s bullpen this year. But with the offseason additions of right-handed relievers Ryan Madson, John Axford and Liam Hendriks and the return of right-hander Fernando Rodriguez, who’s out of options, if everyone stays healthy through the spring, there doesn’t appear to be any room on the right side for Dull to break camp with the big league team. So it looks like the 26-year-old North Carolina native could open the season as the top right-handed relief arm at Nashville. In 16 innings in the second half of last season with the Sounds, Dull posted a 1.12 ERA while striking out 21. And if he can even come close to replicating those kind numbers next year, then he’s likely to be in the front of the line if and when bullpen reinforcements are needed in Oakland. Behind Dull, other right-handed relief options currently on the 40-man roster include R.J. Alvarez and J.B. Wendelken.

 

mm571970bMax Muncy (1B-3B)

A 5th-round pick for the A’s in the 2012 draft, Muncy moved through the system as fast as anyone from that draft class and made his debut with the A’s last April, ultimately making it into 45 major league games by the time the season was through. But there just doesn’t appear to be room for Muncy on the opening day roster this year. His ability to play both first base and third base makes him a valuable asset though, and he’s currently the only player in the A’s minor league system who can play both corner infield positions and has major league experience. Muncy’s posted a .378 on-base percentage in 386 games over his minor league career. And the A’s value his approach at the plate, knowing that he’s not prone to wasting at-bats by hacking at pitches he can’t handle. Top slugging prospect Matt Olson isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, but corner infielders Rangel Ravelo and Renato Nunez are. Neither has major league experience though, and Ravelo is primarily a first baseman who hasn’t seen more than two games at the hot corner since 2012, while Nunez is primarily a third baseman who’s only seen 16 games at first base in his minor league career and is considered a defensive liability at both positions. So if another corner infielder is needed this season, Muncy’s versatility and dependability should put him at the front of the pack.

 

tl502285bTyler Ladendorf (2B-SS-CF)

Ladendorf impressed in major league camp last spring and opened the season on the A’s roster before being sent down and then suffering an ankle injury that left him laid up for much of the season. If Ladendorf had any shot at earning an opening day roster spot this year, the acquisition of versatile infielder-outfielder Chris Coghlan quickly put an end to that. But that’s not to say that the A’s don’t still value Ladendorf’s versatility. In his minor league career, he’s started over 200 games at both second base and shortstop and has appeared in at least 50 games at third base and in center field, where he’s expected to see plenty of time this season at Nashville. If Sam Fuld doesn’t end up making the opening day roster, he may very well be lost to the organization since he’s out of options. And that would leave Ladendorf as the only A’s minor leaguer currently on the 40-man roster capable of stepping in in center field. If Eric Sogard doesn’t make the opening day roster and still ends up in the organization when the season starts (which may or not turn out to be the case), then he could be the go-to guy if the team needs another middle infielder. But if Sogard ends up elsewhere, then Ladendorf could be the clear choice if a middle infield need develops. Second baseman Joey Wendle also has a spot on the 40-man roster, but he hasn’t spent one inning at a position other than second base in the last three seasons, so his lack of versatility could hinder him. Meanwhile, infield prospect Chad Pinder has spent time at shortsop, second base and third base but isn’t on the 40-man roster and hasn’t yet seen time above Double-A, let alone in the majors.

 

js519295cJake Smolinski (LF-RF)

Smolinski appeared in 41 games for the A’s in the second half of last season after being acquired off waivers from the Rangers. And the former 2nd-round draft pick did a solid job, showing plenty of pop while primarily playing in left field against left-handers. But with outfielders Josh Reddick, Khris Davis, Billy Burns, Mark Canha, Coco Crisp, Chris Coghlan and Sam Fuld all currently ahead of him on the depth chart, Smolinski seems set to start the season back at Nashville. He hit like a house afire in his brief time at Nashville last season, posting an impressive .349/.402/.628 slash line in 25 games with the Sounds. Smolinski appears set to open the season as Nashville’s starting left fielder but can play either corner outfield position. At the plate, his specialty is crushing left-handed pitching. So if the A’s should end up needing a right-handed hitting corner outfielder at some point this season, Smolinski should be the obvious call.

 

al518911bAndrew Lambo (RF-LF)

Acquired off waivers from Pittsburgh in the offseason, the 27-year-old Lambo was once considered a top power-hitting prospect, and some believe he could prove to be a bit of a late bloomer like Brandon Moss. Lambo is a left-handed hitter who’s slugged 100 home runs while putting up a .280/.347/.467 slash line over his minor league career. He’s also made appearances with the Pirates in each of the last three seasons. While he’s split most of his time between the two corner outfield spots, Lambo has seen some action at first base as well. And the California native has been one of the hottest hitters in the A’s camp so far this spring, notching a pair of home runs and a pair of doubles in his first 19 at-bats while while posting an impressive .421/.476/.842 slash line. With so many other outfielders ahead of him in the A’s camp though, Lambo’s likely to end up seeing lots of time in right field for Nashville this season, at least until an opening for a left-handed hitting corner outfielder pops up for the A’s.

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Oakland A’s 2016 Depth Chart

oamlb_g_oakland_coliseum_600After a long cold winter, the first week of March has arrived and spring training games are finally underway. Between players on the 40-man roster and 22 non-roster invitees, the Oakland A’s have a total of 62 players in their major league camp – 33 position players and 29 pitchers. Every other player in the organization is based in the minor league camp, headquarted at Fitch Park in Mesa. Those 62 players in the big league camp represent the top tier of players in the organization, the ones the coaching staff and the team’s front office executives have deemed worthy of playing with the big boys and want to be sure to get a good look at this spring.

With that in mind, we wanted to examine the team’s depth chart at each position, with the assumption that the 62 players in the big league camp are at the top of the heap in the organization. So let’s take a look at who’s currently in line at each position in the A’s organizational depth chart. Next to each player’s name is the highest level they’ve played at, and below each positional depth chart is a list of players who appeared at that position for the A’s in 2015.

 

Stephen Vogt

Stephen Vogt

CATCHER

Stephen Vogt (MLB)

Josh Phegley (MLB)

Bryan Anderson (MLB)

Carson Blair (MLB)

Matt McBride (MLB)

Bruce Maxwell (AA)

Beau Taylor (AA)

(2015: Vogt, Phegley, Blair, Anderson)

Stephen Vogt and Josh Phegley are set to return at the catching combo at the major leage level for the A’s this season. They are also the only two catchers currently on the 40-man roster. After that, the A’s catching corps is a little thin. Bryan Anderson and Carson Blair, both whom made a handful of appearances for the A’s last year, are expected to be at Triple-A Nashville this season, along with Matt McBride, who is primarily an outfielder. But the veteran has picked up his catcher’s mitt this spring for the first time since 2013 in order to increase his versatility as well as his chances of making it back to the big leagues. Should the A’s be in need of backup backstops this season, Anderson, Blair and McBride should be first in line to get the call. Bruce Maxwell and Beau Taylor are both expected to start the season back at Double-A Midland. But considering the frequency with which catchers tend to get banged up, anyone could get an opportunity to take a step up at any time.

 

Yonder Alonso

Yonder Alonso

FIRST BASE

Yonder Alonso (MLB)

Mark Canha (MLB)

Stephen Vogt (MLB)

Billy Butler (MLB)

Max Muncy (MLB)

Rangel Ravelo (AAA)

Matt Olson (AA)

(2015: Davis, Canha, Vogt, Muncy, Butler)

Last year, Ike Davis and Mark Canha got most of the starts at first base for the A’s. And this year, the left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso and the right-handed hitting Canha are expected to form the first base platoon for the A’s. If needed, Stephen Vogt can always come out from behind the plate and Billy Butler can always come out of the designated hitter spot to back up the pair. If a first baseman is needed for the longer term, lefty Max Muncy and righty Rangel Ravelo will both be at Triple-A Nashville and both are on the 40-man roster. Top prospect Matt Olson will also be at Nashville, but he’s not currently on the 40-man roster, and the A’s may prefer to wait till they’re ready to give the young slugger a full-time shot before giving him the call and starting his service time clock.

 

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie

SECOND BASE

Jed Lowrie (MLB)

Chris Coghlan (MLB)

Eric Sogard (MLB)

Tyler Ladendorf (MLB)

Joey Wendle (AAA)

Chad Pinder (AA)

Josh Rodriguez (MLB)

Franklin Barreto (A)

(2015: Sogard, Lawrie, Zobrist, Ladendorf)

Eric Sogard got most of the starts at second base last year, but Jed Lowrie has returned to the A’s to serve as the team’s starting second baseman this season. Lefty-swinging Chris Coghlan was also acquired from the Cubs and could get some starts against right-handed pitchers since Lowrie struggled a bit against righties last year. Sogard is still in the picture though and, if he doesn’t make the major league squad to start the season, he could be optioned to Nashville, where he’d be available to return to Oakland at a moment’s notice should his services be needed. Middle infielders Tyler Ladendorf, Joey Wendle and Chad Pinder will all be at Nashville, and Ladendorf and Wendle are both on the 40-man roster, so it would be easy to bring them up if needed. Minor league free agent signee and non-roster invitee Josh Rodriguez could be at Nashville as well or, if the Triple-A roster is too crowded, he could end up at Midland, where top shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto is expected to start getting a little time at second base to increase his versatility.

 

Marcus Semien

Marcus Semien

SHORTSTOP

Marcus Semien (MLB)

Jed Lowrie (MLB)

Eric Sogard (MLB)

Tyler Ladendorf (MLB)

Chad Pinder (AA)

Josh Rodriguez (MLB)

Franklin Barreto (A)

Richie Martin (A)

(2015: Semien, Sogard, Parrino)

Marcus Semien appeared in 152 games at shortstop for the A’s in 2015 and is set to return as the team’s everyday shortstop in 2016. As long as he’s healthy, the 25-year-old East Bay native should start as many games for the A’s as anyone in the coming season. But if he does need an occasional day off, the A’s former everyday shortstop, Jed Lowrie, can easily slide over from second base to give Semien a breather. If Eric Sogard remains with the organization, he also has the ability to fill in at the position and served as Semien’s primary backup last season. Tyler Ladendorf, who’s on the 40-man roster, should be available at Nashville if needed. And Chad Pinder, who’s not currently on the 40-man roster, is set to be the primary starting shortstop for Nashville this year after turning in an MVP season at Double-A Midland last year. Non-roster invitee Josh Rodriguez has played over 400 games at shortstop in the minors, while 20-year-old Franklin Barreto is the organization’s top shortstop prospect and is set to start the season at Double-A Midland, and 21-year-old Richie Martin was the team’s top draft pick last year but is still relatively inexperienced and should start the season in A ball.

 

Danny Valencia

Danny Valencia

THIRD BASE

Danny Valencia (MLB)

Jed Lowrie (MLB)

Chris Coghlan (MLB)

Eric Sogard (MLB)

Max Muncy (MLB)

Tyler Ladendorf (MLB)

Renato Nunez (AA)

Chad Pinder (AA)

Josh Rodriguez (MLB)

Matt Chapman (AA)

(2015: Lawrie, Valencia, Muncy, Sogard)

With Brett Lawrie, the A’s primary third baseman last season, shipped off to the White Sox in the offseason, Danny Valencia, the A’s second-half hitting star last year, is set to take over as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2016. But Valencia has primarily been a part-time player throughout his career and if he needs a little time off, Jed Lowrie, who primarily played third base for the Astros last season, can always slide over from second base or newly-acquired lefty swinger Chris Coghlan can come in to give the right-handed hitting Valencia an occasional break against righties. Eric Sogard has appeared in a couple dozen games at the hot corner for the A’s over the past few seasons and could also be in the mix. Max Muncy, who appeared in 16 games at third base for the A’s last year, along with the versatile Tyler Ladendorf and the young slugger Renato Nunez will all be available at Nashville, and all are currently on the 40-man roster. Chad Pinder, who will also be at Nashville, played plenty of third base in college, while non-roster invitee Josh Rodriguez has spent the bulk of his time at third base over his last three seasons in the minors. And right behind them is the A’s top draft pick from 2014, Matt Chapman, who’s set to start the season at Double-A Midland and who’s defense at the hot corner is as solid as can be.

 

Khris Davis

Khris Davis

OUTFIELD

Khris Davis (MLB)

Josh Reddick (MLB)

Billy Burns (MLB)

Mark Canha (MLB)

Coco Crisp (MLB)

Chris Coghlan (MLB)

Sam Fuld (MLB)

Tyler Ladendorf (MLB)

Jake Smolinski (MLB)

Andrew Lambo (MLB)

Matt McBride (MLB)

Matt Olson (AA)

(2015: Reddick, Burns, Fuld, Canha, Smolinski, Crisp, Zobrist, Gentry, Ross, Ladendorf, Pridie)

While Josh Reddick and Billy Burns will be returning as the A’s starting right fielder and center fielder this season, new acquisition Khris Davis is set to take over in left field, where Sam Fuld and Mark Canha ended up getting the bulk of the starts last year. When he’s not starting at first base against lefties, Canha will be available to fill in in the outfield if needed, as will Coco Crisp, as long as he’s healthy, and new acquisition Chris Coghlan. There’s some question as to whether or not Sam Fuld will be able to make the opening day roster and, since he’s out of options, the A’s may not be able to retain him if he doesn’t. But if Fuld sticks around, then he’s another option to fill in at all three outfield spots. Tyler Ladendorf is expected to see plenty of time in center field at Triple-A Nashville this season, where corner outfielders Jake Smolinski and Andrew Lambo, both of whom have major league experience, are also set to spend plenty of time patrolling the outfield. And since all three are on the 40-man roster, it’d be easy to call up any of them if extra outfielders are needed. Non-roster invitee Matt McBride has seen time in the outfield for the Rockies over parts of three different seasons. He’ll be at Nashville this year but is not on the 40-man roster. The same applies to young slugger Matt Olson, who spent most of the second half of last season in right field for Midland and is expected to see plenty more time there in Music City this year.

 

Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

STARTING PITCHING

Sonny Gray (MLB)

Jesse Hahn (MLB)

Chris Bassitt (MLB)

Kendall Graveman (MLB)

Rich Hill (MLB)

Henderson Alvarez (MLB)

Felix Doubront (MLB)

Jarrod Parker (MLB)

Sean Manaea (AA)

Dillon Overton (AA)

Eric Surkamp (MLB)

Chris Smith (MLB)

Raul Alcantara (AA)

(2015: Gray, Chavez, Graveman, Kazmir, Hahn, Bassitt, Brooks, Pomeranz, Doubront, Nolin, Martin, Zito, Mills)

The idea of a five-man starting rotation is a bit of a myth. Most teams end up using twice that many starting pitchers over the course of a season, and the A’s used 13 different starters last year. With that in mind, as A’s general manager David Forst well knows, building plenty of starting pitching depth can be key to any team’s success. High atop the A’s starting pitching heap is staff ace Sonny Gray. Free agent signee Rich Hill is set to join him in the A’s starting rotation, along with returning right-handers Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt and Kendall Graveman, as long as all are healthy. Free agent signee and former All-Star Henderson Alvarez, who is returning from shoulder surgery, is expected to be ready to join the rotation by the end of May. And lefty Felix Doubront, who’s started 85 games in the majors and is currently set to be the A’s long man out of the bullpen, will also be available to start if needed. After multiple elbow surgeries, Jarrod Parker will be working his way back into shape at Triple-A Nashville, where he’s likely to be joined by the team’s top two pitching prospects, left-handers Sean Manaea and Dillon Overton, along with minor league free agent signees Eric Surkamp and Chris Smith, both of whom have major league experience. Parker is the only one of that group currently on the 40-man roster and is also the only one with extensive major league experience so, if he can regain his form, he could be the first to get the call if needed. The A’s would like Sean Manaea to get some time in Triple-A but, as the organization’s top pitching prospect, if Manaea can show the ability to dominate Triple-A hitters early, then the team may have to find a way to find a spot for the promising lefty. The only other starting pitcher in the big league camp is right-hander Raul Alcantara, who returned from Tommy John surgery to make 15 starts for Stockton last season and is expected to start 2016 at Double-A Midland.

 

Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle

LEFT-HANDED RELIEF

Sean Doolittle (MLB)

Marc Rzepczynski (MLB)

Felix Doubront (MLB)

Daniel Coulombe (MLB)

Eric Surkamp (MLB)

Patrick Schuster (AAA)

(2015: Abad, Pomeranz, Venditte, O’Flaherty, Doolittle, Coulombe)

A healthy Sean Doolittle is set to return as the A’s closer this season, while new acquisition Marc Rzepczynski is expected to take on the role as the team’s primary left-handed setup man, with lefty Felix Doubront serving as the A’s long man and occasional spot starter. The organization isn’t terribly deep at the moment when it comes to left-handed relief options. Daniel Coulombe, who appeared in 9 games late last season with the A’s, will be at Nashville, along with non-roster invitee Eric Surkamp, who has major league experience with the Giants, Dodgers and White Sox. Minor league free agent signee Patrick Schuster may also be at Nashville but, with an abundance of arms fighting for spots in the Sounds bullpen, he could also start the season with Double-A Midland. None of the three are currently on the 40-man roster though, so if another southpaw is needed at the major league level, another roster move will have to be made.

 

Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

RIGHT-HANDED RELIEF

Ryan Madson (MLB)

John Axford (MLB)

Liam Hendriks (MLB)

Fernando Rodriguez (MLB)

Ryan Dull (MLB)

R.J. Alvarez (MLB)

J.B. Wendelken (AAA)

Angel Castro (MLB)

Ryan Brasier (MLB)

Taylor Thompson (MLB)

Ryan Doolittle (AA)

Eduard Santos (AA)

(2015: Rodriguez, Scribner, Otero, Mujica, Clippard, Alvarez, Leon, Dull, Castro)

The A’s have really remade the right side of their bullpen this season. Free agent signees Ryan Madson and John Axford will be joined my trade acquisition Liam Hendriks as the team’s top three options from the right side. And since he’s out of options, Fernando Rodriguez is expected to return to take the fourth spot from the right side. If everyone else is healthy, then young righty Ryan Dull may have to start the season at Nashville as the first option to get the call if and when bullpen reinforcements are needed. Two other promising young righties at Nashville who are also on the 40-man roster, R.J. Alvaraez and J.B. Wendelken, may be the next two arms in line if extra help is needed. Behind them at Nashville will be Angel Castro, Ryan Brasier and Taylor Thompson, all of whom have major league experience but none of whom are on the 40-man roster. Two other right-handed relievers in the major league camp, Sean’s little brother Ryan Doolittle and minor league free agent signee Eduard Santos, will both be fighting for spots in the Nashville bullpen but may well wind up having to start the season at Double-A Midland.

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