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MLB trade rumors: Oakland A’s looking for relief pitching

Hey you, wanna pitch for the A’s?
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s are among teams still in the market for bullpen help, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

The report itself is not a surprise. It’s never shocking to see anyone looking for relief depth, really, because you can never have too much pitching. Even with Oakland’s pen counting as arguably the team’s biggest strength in 2016, there’s always room for more help. It’s unclear what exactly the A’s might be interested in — spending on an established name in free agency, picking up a cheap bounce-back flyer, making a trade, etc. -- but the general concept of making an addition is sensible.

Right now there are five relievers who are surely locks for 2017, assuming none are traded away before then:

  • Ryan Madson (R)
  • Sean Doolittle (L)
  • Ryan Dull (R)
  • John Axford (R)
  • Liam Hendriks (R)

There are also several non-roster depth guys:

  • Daniel Coulombe (L) (on the 40-man)
  • Chris Smith (R)
  • Josh Smith (R)
  • Tyler Sturdevant (R)

Some long man options (not including some other surplus starters):

  • Zach Neal (R)
  • Raul Alcantara (R)

And a couple near-ready prospects:

  • Bobby Wahl (R)
  • Tucker Healy (R)
  • Aaron Kurcz (R)

That’s a decent enough list. If the season started tomorrow, I’d be happy with Madson, Doo, Dull, Ax, and Hendriks, with Coulombe as a second lefty and the out-of-options Alcantara as a long man. It’s a fine group on paper.

But baseball isn’t played on paper, and bullpens never go according to plan. Just as you need more than five starters to get you through 162 games, you also want to head into spring training with more relievers than you think necessary. There’s room in that proposed group: Coulombe could be stashed in Triple-A, or Alcantara could get a shot as the fifth starter if it makes sense at the end of spring.

Someone(s) will get hurt, and someone(s) else will be mysteriously terrible because relievers have off-years all the time. I don’t mind filling holes with some of those prospects and non-roster depth players as the year goes on, but the further you push them down the depth chart the longer your line of tenable options. And if someone breaks out like Dull last year, he’ll still probably get his chance sooner than later -- remember, Dull himself was generally expected to start the year in Triple-A entering last spring, until yada yada yada he made the team out of camp. When it comes to bullpens, always overplan and never worry about blocking anyone.

So who’s available? I’m sticking to the free agent market for now, but of course a trade is always a possibility as well. Here are the best names still available (by no means an exhaustive list, and again, we don’t know what level of established quality the A’s are looking for):

  • Joe Blanton (R)
  • Jerry Blevins (L)
  • Trevor Cahill (R)
  • Santiago Casilla (R)

OK I swear some of these guys will not be former A’s. Just going alphabetically here.

  • Neftali Feliz (R)
  • Luke Hochevar (R)
  • Greg Holland (R)
  • J.P. Howell (L)
  • Tommy Hunter (R)
  • Boone Logan (L)
  • Jonathan Papelbon (R)
  • Yusmeiro Petit (R)
  • Sergio Romo (R)
  • Fernando Salas (R)
  • Joe Smith (R)
  • Travis Wood (L)

See any names you like? My inclination would be toward adding a lefty, since the depth chart is righty-heavy right now, but it’s not essential. Let’s start tossing around some names in the comments — whether they’re on that list above, or other free agents I didn’t name, or waiver wire gems, or trade candidates you like from other teams. If the A’s go after a reliever, who do you want?