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Taking stock of the Athletics’ 40-man roster heading into the offseason

A quick primer on where the A’s roster stands before the offseason kicks into high gear

Oakland Athletics v Los Angeles Angels Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While Major League Baseball’s offseason doesn’t kick into gear until after the completion of the World Series, the Oakland Athletics have been busy getting their 40-man roster in order. In recent weeks, the A’s have dropped Austin Pruitt, Zach Neal, Richard Lovelady, Yacksel Rios, Sam Long and James Kaprielian from their 40-man roster. In addition, reliever Trevor May announced his retirement and will come off the roster after the World Series is over.

The A’s currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster, not counting Sean Newcomb who is currently on the 60-day injured list. Oakland will have to add Newcomb back to the 40-man roster after the World Series. Also remember, the A’s will have to have room to add several prospects, including infielder Darrell Hernaiz, to the 40-man roster later this offseason in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. They will also need spots should they pursue anyone in free agency.

Below is a breakdown of the remaining decisions that Oakland will need to make along with some thoughts on the 40-man roster heading into the offseason.

Free Agents (1): Tony Kemp

The Athletics have just one true free agent in veteran Tony Kemp. Kemp has spent the last four seasons with the A’s, but posted just a 77 wRC+ in over 400 plate appearances in 2023 and is heading into his age-32 season.

Options (1): Drew Rucinski

The A’s have until five days after the World Series ends to decide whether or not to exercise the $5 million contract option on Drew Rucinski’s contract. It won’t take that long after Rucinski appeared in just four games due to injury while allowing 18 runs in 18 innings pitched.

Arbitration update

A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections for the upcoming offseason. At the time, Oakland had six players who were eligible for salary arbitration. They have cut that list in half after dropping Pruitt, Perez and Kaprielian from the 40-man. Sean Newcomb, Paul Blackburn and Seth Brown are the only A’s players left who are eligible for arbitration.

40-man Roster Quick Thoughts

RHP (14): Paul Blackburn, Joe Boyle, Lucas Erceg, Joey Estes, Luis Medina, Mason Miller, Angel Felipe, Zach Jackson, Dany Jimenez, Adrian Martinez, Tayler Scott, Chad Smith, Devin Sweet, Freddy Tarnok

Blackburn is in his second year of arbitration this offseason and is under team control through the end of the 2025 season. He could be an intriguing trade candidate this offseason for teams interested in adding some rotation depth. Boyle, Estes, Medina, Miller and Tarnok could all be part of a competition in the spring for rotation spots.

Jackson and Jimenez logged just over 40 innings combined due to injury in 2023. Erceg provided a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks in his 55 innings.

LHP (8): Hogan Harris, Easton Lucas, Kyle Muller, Sean Newcomb, Francisco Perez, JP Sears, Kirby Snead, Ken Waldichuk

Sears made 31 starts in 2023 and should go to spring with a leg up on the rest of the competition for a rotation spot. Waldichuk finished the season strong as well and should be part of that competition. Muller was Oakland’s Opening Day starter, but finished the season as a multi-inning reliever. He will be out of options and will need to find a role to fill on the roster.

Catchers (2): Shea Langeliers, Tyler Soderstrom

As of now, it looks like the A’s will enter next season with Shea Langeliers and Tyler Soderstrom as their catching duo. Langeliers appeared in 123 games behind the plate and at times looked worn down. Soderstrom struggled at the plate in a small sample, but Oakland is going to need both players to take a step forward. The A’s will need to add Kyle McCann to the 40-man roster this winter in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

Infielders (8): Nick Allen, Jonah Bride, Jordan Diaz, Aledmys Diaz, Zack Gelof, Buddy Kennedy, Ryan Noda, Kevin Smith

Aledmys Diaz posted a 72 wRC+ in 109 games in 2023 and is slated to make $8 million for next season. The A’s were unable to find any takers for him at the trade deadline and will likely try again this offseason. Nick Allen saw most of the playing time down the stretch at shortstop and hit better in the second half, but is still way below average at the plate. Hernaiz could figure into the mix at short early and will be someone to watch during the spring.

Zack Gelof led the team in fWAR despite playing just 69 games. He and Ryan Noda will anchor the right side of the infield. Third base still looks like a question mark. Jordan Diaz saw plenty of time at third after Geldof’s arrival, but is still a work in progress defensively. Kevin Smith will be out of options, but still hasn’t shown any progress at the plate during his time in Oakland.

Outfielders (5): JJ Bleday, Seth Brown, Lawrence Butler, Brent Rooker, Esteury Ruiz

Brent Rooker slugged 30 home runs and posted a 127 wRC+ in 137 games in 2023. He won’t be arbitration eligible until 2025 and could be a sell high candidate this offseason. Seth Brown regressed from his solid showing in 2022, but still provides some power from the left side. Both Rooker and Brown are best suited for a DH role so it will be interesting to see if the A’s try to move either in the coming months.

Esteury Ruiz set a major league record for rookies with 67 stolen bases, but had just a .309 on-base percentage and an 86 wRC+ in 132 games. His defense in center was suspect as well despite his speed and he saw a lot of action in left after the promotion of Lawrence Butler. Ruiz needs to refine his approach at the plate or he looks like more of a speedy fourth outfielder than a regular. Butler struggled at the plate in his first taste of the majors, but showed some flashes. He will go into the spring trying to land a spot on the major league roster.