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A’s announce 2022 Opening Day roster

These 28 players will suit up Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Colorado Rockies
Still a couple stars left on this team
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s announced their 2022 Opening Day roster on Thursday, one day ahead of the first game of the season. There were a few final transactions to take care of, but now we know for certain which 28 players will suit up Friday night in Philadelphia against the Phillies.

You can click here to read more about these last-minute moves:

  • RHP James Kaprielian to the 10-day injured list (shoulder)
  • RHP Brent Honeywell to the 60-day IL (elbow)
  • RHP Deolis Guerra to the 60-day IL (elbow)
  • LHP Sam Selman DFA’d
  • Five non-roster invitees added to roster: RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Zach Jackson, RHP Dany Jimenez, RHP Jacob Lemoine, OF Billy McKinney

That leaves the following squad for April 8:

Oakland A's 28-man roster
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Frankie Montas (R)
Cole Irvin (L)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)
Adam Oller (R)

IL:James Kaprielian (R)
60-IL: Brent Honeywell (R)


Relievers

Lou Trivino (R)
Domingo Acevedo (R)
Justin Grimm (R)
Zach Jackson (R)
Dany Jimenez (R)
Jack Lemoine (R)
Sam Moll (L)
A.J. Puk (L)
Kirby Snead (L)

60-IL: Deolis Guerra (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Stephen Vogt (L)
Austin Allen (L)

Infielders

Elvis Andrus (R)
Tony Kemp (L)
Jed Lowrie (S)
Sheldon Neuse (R)
Kevin Smith (R)

Outfielders

Stephen Piscotty (R)
Chad Pinder (R)
Cristian Pache (R)
Billy McKinney (L)
Seth Brown (L)
Skye Bolt (S)

SL: Ramon Laureano (R)

Here’s a quick look through each position group.

Starting pitchers

  1. Frankie Montas (R)
  2. Cole Irvin (L)
  3. Daulton Jefferies (R)
  4. Paul Blackburn (R)
  5. Adam Oller (R)

Last summer the A’s had perhaps their best rotation of the past decade, but this year they’ll mostly start from scratch. Out are a pair of stars in Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea, though Montas still remains as an ace to anchor the group. The right-hander finished sixth in Cy Young voting last season, and was the league’s best pitcher in the second half.

Beyond Montas, there’s room for new names to step up. Irvin arrived on the scene last year and ate league-average innings, and now he’s added a new cutter as he attempts to miss more bats. Jefferies has been a top prospect for years but his development was slowed by injuries and then the pandemic, and now he’ll finally get his first real chance after a couple previous cups of coffee. Oller is one of the new prospects from the Bassitt trade, and he steps directly into the vacated rotation spot.

As for Blackburn, he’s appeared for the A’s each of the past five seasons, but he’s finally out of minor league options and can’t be sent down without being waived. He’s yet to find any consistent MLB success, but he soaked up some frames at the end of last season when the team was desperate, and at age 28 he’ll look to do so again.

Help should be on the way soon. James Kaprielian, coming off a solid rookie campaign, is out for most of April with shoulder irritation but is already on the path to returning. When he does get back, perhaps an odd man out will move to the bullpen.

Relief pitchers

  • Lou Trivino (R) (closer?)
  • Domingo Acevedo (R)
  • Justin Grimm (R)
  • Zach Jackson (R)
  • Dany Jimenez (R)
  • Jacob Lemoine (R)
  • Sam Moll (L)
  • A.J. Puk (L)
  • Kirby Snead (L)

Nice to meet you! The bullpen had even more turnover than the rotation, as Trivino is the only returner who threw more than 15 innings for the club last year. Acevedo, Moll, and Puk also pitched for the A’s last year, but combined for only around 35 innings between them.

Everybody else is new. Jackson spent last summer in Oakland’s farm system, Snead was acquired last month in the Chapman trade, and Grimm, Jimenez, and Lemoine signed over the offseason as minor league free agents, and you can click each of their names for more info.

They’re not just new to the A’s, but to the majors overall. Two of them (Jackson and Lemoine) will make their MLB debuts when they take the mound. Leaving aside Trivino and Grimm, the other seven have combined for a total of 60 career appearances and 61⅔ innings between them, with only Puk eclipsing a dozen frames on his own.

However, they’re not lacking in upside. Acevedo, Grimm, and Jimenez, were three of the top strikeout artists in the minors last summer, and Jackson fanned over half his batters in Double-A. Puk was recently the No. 1 prospect in Oakland’s system as a starter, and Trivino was arguably an All-Star snub in the first half before wearing down in the second half with a heavy workload. They’re cheap and inexperienced, but breakouts can happen quickly in the bullpen.

Catchers

  • Sean Murphy (R)
  • Stephen Vogt (L)
  • Austin Allen (L)

The lineup still has a star in Murphy, who won the Gold Glove last year and chipped in 17 homers. That was his first full-length season in the majors, and he has upside to get even better, as long as he can stay healthy.

For now there are two lefty batters to split duties with him. The veteran Vogt came back to his old stomping grounds, though at age 37 we shouldn’t expect the same hitter we saw when he was here years ago. Allen briefly appeared for the A’s each of the last two summers, and his promising bat gets another chance in the majors.

Infielders

  • Elvis Andrus (R)
  • Tony Kemp (L)
  • Jed Lowrie (S)
  • Sheldon Neuse (R)
  • Kevin Smith (R)

Who will play where? We’ll see! Andrus (SS) and Kemp (2B) are the incumbent middle infield. Lowrie could see some time at 2B, or at 1B, and he also took some DH days last year. Neuse and Smith are candidates for 3B, and Smith can help up the middle too.

Of course, the whole thing looks weird without the Matts on the corners. Matt Olson is gone to the Braves, and Matt Chapman was dealt to the Blue Jays. Smith came over in the Chapman trade, and could get the chance to take over the same position. Neuse is a former Oakland prospect who played for the A’s in 2019 but went to the Dodgers last year, and now he’s back on a waiver claim.

And who’s on first? That answer might not even be in this section, but rather a displaced outfielder from the list below.

Outfielders

  • Stephen Piscotty (R)
  • Chad Pinder (R)
  • Cristian Pache (R)
  • Billy McKinney (L)
  • Seth Brown (L)
  • Skye Bolt (S)

They’ll play the first 27 games without Ramon Laureano, who is still finishing his PED suspension from last season. And now they’re without Mark Canha and Starling Marte, both gone to the Mets.

Like every other area of the roster, there’s room for somebody to grab the spotlight. Perhaps it could be Piscotty, bouncing back from three straight injury-marred campaigns. Or Pinder, who starred in the 2020 postseason but kept getting hurt last year. Or Pache, an electric prospect acquired in the Olson trade who plays elite CF defense.

Also in the mix is Brown, who smashed 20 homers last year and offered quietly excellent defense on the corners. McKinney, the team’s 1st-round draft pick from 2013, came back this offseason on a minor league contract. That pair could be candidates to help out at 1B, with Brown having played there a lot in the minors and McKinney getting a look this spring.

Bolt has gotten a few quick tryouts in Oakland before without any success, but now he’s out of minor league options. He gets another chance to strike, with lots of tools including some power, patience, speed, and defense.

***

It’s going to be an adventure! The A’s are beginning a rebuild, so it’s time to try out lots of new stuff and see what works. They’re doing that everywhere, in the rotation, bullpen, backup catcher, and much of the infield and outfield. And there will be more prospects showing up in Oakland as the year goes on, like shortstop Nick Allen and some pitchers and maybe catcher Shea Langeliers.

It could be a disaster, and they could be the worst team in the league. If some stuff goes right, they could stay out of last place. Contending in any way seems extremely unlikely, even with the precedent of 2012 telling us to never say never.

But no matter what, it’s gonna be A’s baseball. Some prospects will pan out and excite us, and they’ll win a few games along the way. It’s not the situation we wish we had, but it’s what we’ve got. Let’s enjoy the ride!