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Oakland A’s rotation: Rounding up the offseason targets

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These are the likeliest names the A’s might be looking at ahead of 2019.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s biggest job this winter is to rebuild their starting rotation. It’s not the only thing they need to get done on their roster, and in fact the fate of Jed Lowrie will be the single most impactful transaction of the team’s offseason one way or other. But when it comes to the pitching staff, the sheer size of the task means that the bulk of the team’s work the next few months will take place in that department.

The answers could come from any avenues. GM David Forst said on Friday, via insider Jane Lee: “We’re dipping into both free agency and trade conversations equally.” However, don’t expect any blockbuster swaps, as Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle mentions that “the team has no wish to deal any of its top prospects, especially (pitcher Jesus) Luzardo or (catcher Sean) Murphy.”

Most likely, we’re looking at some classic A’s additions this winter. That means betting on bounce-back candidates, and high performers who carry high injury risk, and other such value plays that offer upside on relatively modest salaries. They’re going bargain hunting.

We’ve covered a few of the top options already, especially the ones that have been publicly connected to Oakland in rumors, and as we get to more of them I’ll add the links here. However, with the Winter Meetings now in full swing, let’s round up a list of the best names on the table. As always, remember this is the A’s, so the real answer could well turn out to be a youngster you’ve never heard of, a veteran you thought was retired, and a guy whose arm fell off but now he wants to try pitching with the other arm, and somehow that trio will turn out pretty solid.

Last update: Mar. 19, 11:00 a.m. PT

Note: Salaries are rounded to the nearest million. Those with an asterisk* have been specifically mentioned in rumors, in terms of Oakland publicly having interest or even preliminary discussions.

Re-Sign?

Reports have consistently mentioned the A’s interest in bringing back any of these guys.

Left out: Mike Fiers has not been mentioned in those same reports. Update: Never mind, he’s back on the radar.

Free Agents

These FAs are likely to be within the A’s realistic price range, both in terms of modest dollars and short-term years.

Left out: Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ (NYY, 2yr/$34M) are surely too expensive.

Trade targets

These names are either publicly confirmed to be on the block, or make logical sense as salary dumps from bad teams.

Left out: Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are surely too expensive.

Last year, the A’s got away with sitting out the offseason SP market entirely, waiting until March, and nabbing a few cheap scrap-heapers at the last minute. It worked, and they went to the postseason! However, such a strategy would not be advisable again, as Oakland is starting out with even less depth than they had last winter. Besides, the pool of candidates this time around is more promising than last year’s weak market, and more likely to be worth spending resources on.

Hopefully the A’s wind up landing a couple of names off this list. Stay tuned to find out which ones!

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Current rotation depth chart

Newest additions

  • Mike Fiers (re-signed as free agent)
  • Marco Estrada (signed as free agent)
  • Brett Anderson (re-signed as free agent)

Healthy, but are they starters?

  • Daniel Mengden
  • Chris Bassitt
  • Frankie Montas

Injured, but might contribute in 2019

  • Paul Blackburn (spent most of 2018 on DL, but ready for 2019)
  • Andrew Triggs (moving to relief)
  • Jharel Cotton (out for beginning of 2019)
  • Daniel Gossett (out for most of 2019)
  • Sean Manaea (might not pitch in 2019)
  • Grant Holmes (missed all of 2018, and hasn’t pitched in Triple-A)
  • A.J. Puk (out for beginning of 2019, and hasn’t pitched in Triple-A)

Triple-A Depth

  • Jesus Luzardo (top prospect, maybe MLB-ready now)
  • Tanner Anderson (reliever converting to starting)
  • Parker Bridwell (waiver claim, outrighted to AAA)
  • Jake Buchanan (veteran minor league free agent)
  • Kyle Lobstein (veteran minor league free agent)
  • James Naile (fringe Triple-A prospect)
  • Parker Dunshee (intriguing Double-A prospect)
  • Brian Howard (intriguing Double-A prospect)