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Roster Questions For The Second Half

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics
“THIS I can catch.”
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As the A’s move into “buyers” mode with a sharp eye on catching Seattle and claiming a post-season spot, they will need to be shrewd about how they construct a 25-man roster. The DFA of Santiago Casilla signaled that no longer can Oakland keep players on the roster for any reason other than they will help the team’s chances of catching the Mariners.

One dilemma facing the A’s soon is that of Matt Joyce, the LH batting outfielder currently on the DL. Joyce has had a rough season overall but was a significant contributor last season and has value to a team short on left-handed bats.

What complicates matters here is that Mark Canha, who has been streaky and is currently hot, tends to perform best when he plays every day. You could certainly envision an outfield, going forward, where you see Pinder-Canha-Piscotty against LHPs and Canha-Fowler-Piscotty against RHPs, figuring you get the best of Canha by playing him every day and also wagering that his defense, and overall offensive production, will match what Joyce is likely to give you in LF.

Perhaps Joyce still has a place as a valuable bat off the bench — he is an unusually good pinch hitter — as well as someone who can give Piscotty and Canha a day off each week. This becomes trickier when you have only a 3-man bench, but at the same time I don’t foresee the A’s jettisoning their 8-man bullpen given the questions around the rotation and how effective, and important, a deep bullpen has been.

So perhaps the A’s roll with a bench of Phegley, Joyce, and Pinder, or maybe they consider a Joyce DFA if they feel they have the outfield covered with Canha and Pinder and don’t want a precious roster spot taken up by a player who can’t hit LHPs, doesn’t run well, and plays mediocre defense.

It’s a tough call that the A’s will have to make soon, as is the status of mop-up reliever Chris Hatcher. Hatcher is also in the last year of his contract and in being relegated to mop-up duty is essentially a replacement level player — you can sneeze and generally two guys will blow out your nose who can pitch in long relief as well as the chaff you currently have. Only sometimes they can give you 4-5 bad innings instead of 1-2.

Chris Bassitt, for example, might be more useful at the back of the bullpen, as might Brett Anderson, just for their ability to eat up 4-5 innings while they’re at it so that you don’t need to ask Yusmeiro Petit or Emilio Pagan to throw a garbage inning just to get the game to end. Then again, Hatcher has been with the team all year, seems well regarded in the clubhouse, occasionally fires a 1-2-3 inning, is on a team with some magical chemistry going, and currently has a role that is not a make-or-break one for any team. Is he worth releasing just so another inconsistent pitcher can throw your most meaningless innings? Another tough call the A’s have to make as they ponder the second half.

To some degree, decisions will be influenced these next 2 weeks by what the A’s do in the trade market, because the roster will change if and when they make an addition. All we know is the team the A’s have right now, and the likelihood that Oakland will be pursuing either a starting pitcher or another solid reliever.

Tough calls, both, and calls we will see made by month’s end as the A’s try to figure out how to keep the magic going.

Poll

How do you think the A’s should handle the two veterans, Joyce and Hatcher?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Keep them both, keep the chemistry going
    (72 votes)
  • 39%
    Keep Joyce but DFA Hatcher
    (283 votes)
  • 7%
    Keep Hatcher but DFA Joyce
    (54 votes)
  • 42%
    DFA both, move on
    (308 votes)
717 votes total Vote Now