Stripling, Wood set to lead A's rotation

February 6th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos' A's Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The state of the A’s starting rotation has sure changed in a hurry.

A couple of weeks before the start of Spring Training, it appeared as if the A’s would begin camp with the majority of their rotation spots up for grabs. Now, that staff is looking mostly set, following the additions of left-hander and right-hander -- both of whom are viewed by Oakland as starters -- on Friday.

It was perhaps no coincidence that their acquisitions were announced on the same day. Wood and Stripling will now become teammates on a third team. The two played together on the Giants last season and the Dodgers from 2016-18 and ‘20.

“They’re pretty close,” A’s general manager David Forst said of Wood and Stripling. “They’ve played together a lot between L.A. and San Francisco. When I told Wood that we were working to get this done, I think he was pretty hopeful that we would. As soon as I talked to Stripling, he mentioned Alex. I think it’s great to have them here together. Both have played in the area.”

Wood, a veteran of 11 Major League seasons, and Stripling, an eight-year big leaguer, immediately become the club’s two most experienced pitchers on the roster. They will join Paul Blackburn and JP Sears at the top of the rotation depth chart, with the fifth and final rotation spot likely to be decided in Spring Training.

“Those are certainly the four guys with the most experience,” Forst said. “Paul is now the longest-tenured member of our team in the big leagues, and JP went out and proved he could do it for a whole season last year. I don’t want to discount what Luis [Medina] did last year or what [Joe] Boyle or [Joey] Estes did at the end of the year, but it’s fair to say those four guys come in with a good spot in the rotation.”

Here are some other topics Forst touched on during a Zoom call with reporters on Friday:

On pulling off a rare cross-bay trade with the Giants for Stripling:
“I guess everybody is going to call this one the first real trade we’ve made. We’ve always said it’s easier to make trades and have conversations with people you have relationships with and people you trust. There’s nobody on the other side of the phone that I know better than [Giants president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi]. It was a conversation that took three months or so, but we each knew where the other stood on it all along. The difficulty sometimes can be that we tend to view players the same way. But I think this one fit for both sides.”

On entering Spring Training with several young top prospects in big league camp:
“I think Spring Training is going to be exciting to watch. I know Mark [Kotsay] is excited about getting these guys in camp. There’s a group we had in Oakland in August and September last year and there’s a whole other group with Darell [Hernaiz], [Max] Muncy, Jacob Wilson and Brett Harris. These guys are all coming into camp on the doorstep of having an opportunity. It’s going to be a big camp. … It’s going to be a competitive camp. There’s a lot of opportunity here. There’s a chance to be seen and make a name for yourself in the big leagues.”

On how the A’s might handle the closer situation:
“ Dany [Jiménez] is the guy right now who has done it the most. Trevor [Gott] has experience pitching in the back of a game, and when he signed here, we talked about giving him that opportunity. Mason Miller’s stuff sort of lends itself to thinking he can close. Those three guys right now are probably the most likely candidates. We’ll continue to look at the reliever market. Is there a guy out there with closing experience? That’s hard to say. … I wouldn’t be surprised if it moved around a little bit. Those three guys are probably the first that comes to mind, but we’ll see how the spring plays out.”