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Oakland A’s announce 2017 Opening Day roster

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No. 3 is Trevor Plouffe, if you were wondering.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason is past, spring training is done, and the regular season is less than 24 hours away, but Saturday brought the one thing that really makes it all feel official: the Oakland A’s announced their Opening Day roster!

After months of debating and speculating, we finally know which 25 players will suit up on Monday against the Angels. First, a few highlights:

  • They’ll open with 8 relievers
  • That means only 3 hitters on the bench (Canha is the de facto backup in CF)
  • No position player prospects made it out of camp (Healy already fully graduated last year)
  • There are only three left-handed hitters (plus one switch-hitter)

Here’s the full rundown.

Starting rotation

  1. Kendall Graveman (R)
  2. Sean Manaea (L)
  3. Jharel Cotton (R)
  4. Andrew Triggs (R)
  5. Raul Alcantara (R)

In addition, Sonny Gray opens on the 10-day disabled list but could be back in April (reminder: the DL got cut down from 15 days to 10 this year). Daniel Mengden and Chris Bassitt are also on the DL but will take longer to return.

Graveman gets the nod on Opening Day; Manaea and Cotton broke through last year with excellent debuts; Triggs is an experiment in converting a reliever into a starter; and Alcantara gets a free audition while Sonny is out, five years after being acquired as a teenage prospect. Here’s more about the rotation.

Bullpen

  1. Ryan Madson (R)
  2. Santiago Casilla (R)
  3. Sean Doolittle (L)
  4. Ryan Dull (R)
  5. Liam Hendriks (R)
  6. John Axford (R)
  7. Daniel Coulombe (L)
  8. Frankie Montas (R)

This continues to be the strongest area of the team. Bob Melvin won’t publicly commit to a single closer, partly because over half of this group would be a good answer to that question. That made it hard to put them in any kind of order here, so don’t read too much into that — I started with the two guys who were full-time closers last year, followed by the relatively recent All-Star, and then went from there.

More interesting is the presence of the eighth man. The rotation is young and inexperienced and they may need some early hooks and extra help, and anyway it’s not like this group is set in stone beyond Monday night if another need arises elsewhere. The beneficiaries are Coulombe (underrated lefty) and Montas (up to 102 mph), who would otherwise have been competing for the seventh spot.

Catchers

  1. Stephen Vogt (L)
  2. Josh Phegley (R)

Requires no further explanation. Bruce Maxwell waits in Triple-A.

Infielders

  1. Yonder Alonso (L) | 1B
  2. Ryon Healy (R) | 1B/DH
  3. Jed Lowrie (S) | 2B
  4. Marcus Semien (R) | SS
  5. Trevor Plouffe (R) | 3B
  6. Adam Rosales (R) | UTIL

Veteran stopgap infield holds down the fort while the next wave works its way up (Olson, Wendle, Pinder, Barreto, Chapman, Nunez). Of that list of Triple-A prospects, Joey Wendle will open on the DL with a strained right shoulder.

The exceptions to the veteran stopgap motif are Healy (breakout rookie last year) and Semien (only 26 this year, good everyday player entering prime years).

Outfielders

  1. Khris Davis (R) | LF
  2. Rajai Davis (R) | CF
  3. Matt Joyce (L) | RF
  4. Mark Canha (R) | OF/1B

Considering the outfield is an organizational weakness, I’m surprisingly OK with this group. Last season, Khrush was among the league leaders in homers, Rajai was the league leaders in steals, and Joyce was among the league leaders in OBP. Granted, they’re each bad at some things too, and the defense should be below-average, but at least they all bring something great to the table.

Joyce is best used as a platoon player, so presumably Canha will start in his place against lefties. Meanwhile, Jake Smolinski opens on the DL after shoulder surgery.

Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Kendall Graveman (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
Jharel Cotton (R)
Andrew Triggs (R)
Raul Alcantara (R)

Relievers

Ryan Madson (R)
Santiago Casilla (R)
Sean Doolittle (L)
Ryan Dull (R)
Liam Hendriks (R)
John Axford (R)
Daniel Coulombe (L)
Frankie Montas (R)
Catchers

Stephen Vogt (L)
Josh Phegley (R)

Infielders

Yonder Alonso (L)
Ryon Healy (R)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Marcus Semien (R)
Trevor Plouffe (R)
Adam Rosales (R)

Outfielders

Khris Davis (R)
Rajai Davis (R)
Matt Joyce (L)
Mark Canha (R)

* * *

Disabled list (10-day)

Do not count toward 25-man limit

  1. Sonny Gray (R) | SP
  2. Daniel Mengden (R) | SP
  3. Chris Bassitt (R) | SP
  4. Joey Wendle (L) | 2B
  5. Jake Smolinski (R) | OF

Sonny is still on track for an April return, but don’t hold your breath on the others — Mengden and Bassitt will take longer, while Wendle and Smolinski don’t necessarily make this current squad even if they’re healthy. All of these DL stints are officially backdated to March 30.

If any of these players look like they’ll miss at least a couple months, then they could be transferred to the 60-day DL, which would free up a 40-man roster spot to add a non-roster player (like starter Daniel Gossett, or a depth reliever, or backup CF Jaff Decker, or top 3B prospect Matt Chapman).

Final cuts

And finally, here are the final moves that got us to this Opening Day roster. Entering the Bay Bridge Series, there were still 36 players left in camp. Five of them were put on the DL (the list above), and the remaining six were non-roster invitees who have now been reassigned to the minors:

  • RHP Simon Castro
  • RHP Cesar Valdez
  • C Ryan Lavarnway
  • 3B Matt Chapman
  • OF Jaff Decker
  • OF Chris Parmelee

Decker was the 26th man, as the backup CF option who would have really tied the outfield together if only there had been one more spot on the roster. We could still see him in Oakland soon, though, because he can opt out on May 1 if he’s still stuck in the minors. Castro, Valdez, and Parmelee are minor league veterans who had impressive springs. Lavarnway is another veteran who was excellent for Team Israel in the WBC and then hit well for the A’s when he got back. Chapman is The Future.

Bonus links: More on Castro/Valdez | More on Parmelee | More on Lavarnway

Also see: 1st round of cuts | 2nd | 3rd | 4th | 5th | 6th | 7th

As for the rest of the 40-man roster, there are 10 more in addition to the 25 active players and the five on the DL. They are: RHP Paul Blackburn, RHP Jesse Hahn, RHP Bobby Wahl, C Bruce Maxwell, 1B Matt Olson, IF Franklin Barreto, IF Chad Pinder, IF Yairo Munoz, 3B/LF Renato Nunez, and OF Jaycob Brugman. Most of those players are top prospects who will begin the year in Triple-A; Hahn is the only one with significant MLB experience. All of them will officially be using an option year once they’ve spent 20 days in the minors.