Trade a few All-Stars, sign a Cuban, take the AL West by surprise, make the post-season every year. It's a formula that worked in 2012 when Oakland swapped out three All-Stars (Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill, and Gio Gonzalez), signed Yoenis Cespedes, and took the division by storm.
Oakland has freed up enough payroll to make a legitimate play for Cuban second baseman Jose Fernandez who, at 26, comes with the reputation of "major league ready" as well as with scouting reports like "an on base machine with an advanced approach and contact skills". Fernandez is not yet eligible to sign anywhere, but will be prior to spring training.
Because rosterbating is yummy but more fun when you don't do it alone (shall we make a circle?), I got to pondering how the roster, and depth chart, might look if the A's were to complete their off-season by landing Fernandez. Without considering any other future additions or subtractions, but assuming Oakland will fortify the bullpen in some quiet way, I came up with this:
C - Derek Norris/ Stephen Vogt
1B - Ike Davis/Billy Butler
2B - Jose Fernandez
SS - Marcus Semien
3B - Brett Lawrie
LF - Coco Crisp/Mark Canha
CF - Craig Gentry
RF - Josh Reddick
DH - John Jaso/Billy Butler
Additional bench: Nick Punto
Depth: Kelvin Graveman, Chris Bassitt if needed, eventually A.J. Griffin
Pat Venditte (just cuz)
Depth: Eventually includes Jarrod Parker
Key AAA talent developing: Joey Wendle, Rangel Ravelo
Key AA talent developing: Daniel Robertson, Matt Olson, Franklin Barreto (plus Renato Nuñez, Dillen Overton)
How does that look for a legitimate shot at "surprise contention" in 2015? How does it look for a shot at contending in 2016-18. Add Fernandez to the party and, well ... Hmm ...