The Oakland A’s held their annual FanFest this weekend, and with it came a media session at which the team offered some offseason updates. The various insiders and beat writers have shared quite a few tidbits, so let’s have a quick look at all the new info. We may later break some of these concepts out into their own posts, but for now here’s the latest.
The A’s signed Marco Estrada on Friday, so along with Mike Fiers there are now two starters inked into the rotation for sure. There is plenty of competition for the other three spots, but the one name that stands out from the others is the club’s top prospect, Jesus Luzardo.
David Forst says A’s not ruling out Jesus Luzardo for season-opening rotation, adding it’ll be based on whether he’s ready, not service time. At this point, there is certainly room for him.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 25, 2019
Shea expanded on that tweet in his full write-up, so click through to read more — he also gives some injury updates regarding the pitching staff’s various 2018 surgeries.
As for the Luzardo commentary, it’s absolutely perfect. Holding him back patiently last year, given his age and injury recovery status, was unquestionably the right call. Taking off the reins this year is similarly the overwhelmingly right call, especially given the A’s hopes of contention. That doesn’t mean rush him, but it does mean don’t hold him back just for the sake of it. The A’s have utterly zero history of delaying prospects to manipulate their service time, so there is every reason to believe them when they say Luzardo’s chance will be based purely on his readiness.
The addition of Estrada and the promise of Luzardo don’t mean the rotation is settled, though. Indeed, the team is still on the lookout for more help.
Forst says the A’s are still looking for another starting pitcher and/or left-handed reliever— Ben Ross (@BenRossSports) January 26, 2019
Just don’t expect anything splashy.
Beane says that team is continuing to work on adding starting pitching and perhaps a catcher and reliever. Hints there will be some minor league signings coming up.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 26, 2019
As for the farm system, the recent injury plague has been just as bad down there as it’s been on the major league roster. Of the 13 pitchers on our CPL Top 30 last year, six of them missed the entire season or close to it. A couple big names are entering the spring with some newfound optimism, though.
It was a very optimistic group at the #Athletics FanFest media availability sessions today. James Kaprielian was among the group and he enters this spring fully healthy. Big year ahead for him. Grant Holmes feeling healthy too.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) January 26, 2019
Kap missed the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, so it would be wonderful if he’s finally healthy (both for him personally, and for the team).
The A’s currently have a catching tandem of Chris Herrmann and Josh Phegley. The pair cost them a combined total of $2 million. A HerrPheg platoon would be acceptable given the roster’s other many strengths, and because the Catcher of the Future (Sean Murphy) might arrive midseason anyway.
#Athletics appear to be set at catcher for now. Bob Melvin says he’s comfortable with Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann, with Sean Murphy waiting in the wings— Ben Ross (@BenRossSports) January 26, 2019
But I mean, no one would complain about a 2019 upgrade if it fell into our laps. Slusser’s tweet above suggests that catching is still on the radar at least, even if it’s not sounding like a priority. And what does that priority list look like?
At the very least I wouldn’t be shocked to see them pick up a bit of veteran catching depth on a minor league deal (as Slusser hinted).
Khris Davis extension
The A’s will pay Khrush $16.5 million this season, which is the highest single-season salary in club history. He’s a free agent next winter, though, and the A’s have been abundantly clear that they want to keep him. We haven’t heard much on that front lately, though, which makes Oakland fans nervous (and fairly enough, given the team’s cheapskate history).
A's GM David Forst asked about talks for a Khris Davis extension: "We have continued that conversation. Certainly through spring training, we’re open to it. It’s up to the player if they want to continue it during the season. It continues to be an ongoing conversation.”— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) January 26, 2019
Here’s more from Ryan Gorcey at the S.F. Examiner. At the very least, Khrush is the top priority in this department.
Fan asks about long term deals for Davis, Treinen and Chapman. Forst indicates mic should go to Beane. “Oh, I get this one?” Beane says with a laugh. As always, says team wants to retain all three but Davis is priority because he is a FA after season.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 26, 2019
But while we’re talking about long-term stuff, here’s another related note.
“We all know how important Matt Chapman is to our future and our park. We want him to open the new park, and we want him to be an A for his entire career,” Forst says— Ryan Gorcey (@RyanGorcey) January 26, 2019
Those are just words, but it’s not the kind of thing the A’s have ever said in the 21st century.
A couple other notes, from off the field. First off, the radio situation.
Kaval repeats what he told me the other day, team is emphasizing free streaming option for audio broadcasts and again says there will also be a terrestrial traditional radio option too.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) January 26, 2019
Slusser already did a full write-up on this topic last week, so click through for all the details.
Also, an update on the stadium project. Specifically, the gondola that has been proposed to bridge the transportation gap between Howard Terminal and the nearest BART station. Here’s a video simulation!
State of the A’s
To wrap up, here’s some video of the State of the A’s presentation. Happy 2019, Athletics Nation!!
And Part 2.