Inbox: Assessing active A's, looking ahead to 2023

December 24th, 2022

The A’s are coming off a busy week, first having traded Sean Murphy to the Braves in a blockbuster three-team deal and later adding needed experience to their roster -- with the signings of and on the position player side and for the bullpen.

With so much happening with the A’s this month, there are sure to be questions. I’ll try to answer some in this holiday edition of the A’s Inbox:

Who of the younger guys who made their debut last season do you see having the most impact this season?
-- @chris_ings

The A’s are going to need to make a big impact with Murphy now gone, and I believe he will as he transitions into an everyday role behind the plate. Langeliers was impressive in his limited time with Oakland in 2022. While learning the nuances of catching at the big league level from experienced backstops Murphy and Stephen Vogt, the rookie improved as the season went along and appeared to be playing his best baseball, both offensively and defensively, over the final two weeks of the season.

will still look to work through some things at the plate, but his presence as the likely everyday shortstop will undoubtedly make an impact as he gets more of an opportunity to show off his elite defense that the A’s see earning him multiple Gold Gloves in the future. On the pitching side, I think will cement himself as a reliable starter, while will get a shot to solidify himself somewhere in the back end of the rotation.

How do you see the starting rotation shaking out? Are guys going to marinate in Triple-A or do you see a trade on the horizon?
-- @Bigasfan73

I do think another veteran starter will be brought into the mix either via trade or free agency. For now, and are locks. After that, there’s a large pool of candidates without much separation between them.

underwent right shoulder surgery this offseason and is unlikely to be ready to start come Opening Day. Based on how they finished the season, Waldichuk and Sears will arrive at Spring Training as favorites to open the year in the rotation. A’s general manager David Forst also indicated that , the headline prospect acquired from the Braves for Murphy, is expected to begin the year with Oakland, so that gives him an inside track for one of the rotation slots.

Coming off a stellar year in the bullpen, will be stretched out this spring as a starter, though there’s no guarantee that he will begin the year in that role. Rounding out the rotation competition are other pitchers who saw time in the big leagues with the A’s last season, including Adrián Martínez, and .

If Puk does not end up in the rotation, he’s likely to reassume his role as a valuable multi-inning reliever. Whoever else does not come away from Spring Training with a starting job will head to Triple-A Las Vegas to provide some important depth along with other prospects who are close to big league ready.

Is actually a sustainable option at first base for 2023 and beyond?
-- @tallguyStepek

Garcia will certainly be in the mix at first base, though he’ll have some competition this spring in the form of Ryan Noda. The A’s have liked Noda for years, and it’s easy to see why -- with his offensive profile as a left-handed power bat and an ability to get on base at a high clip. After unsuccessful trade inquiries with the Dodgers, the A’s finally landed Noda -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the A's No. 30 prospect -- with the second pick in the Rule 5 Draft earlier this month.

Assuming is still a part of this roster come Opening Day, it might come down to Garcia and Noda in a battle for one of the final spots on the A’s 26-man roster to begin the regular season.

Do you see Zack Gelof and Tyler Soderstrom as possible callups this season?
-- @yvngcoltrane

The A’s have been pleased with the quick progressions of both Soderstrom and Gelof, who are rated Oakland’s No. 1 and No. 3 prospects. Both finished the 2022 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, with Gelof getting some extra work as a second baseman in the Arizona Fall League.

It’s unfair to compare Gelof and Soderstrom to established stars Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, but there does seem to be a similar vibe to the one that had the organization hyped when the two Matts were coming through the pipeline. Back in 2017, Chapman and Olson graduated from top prospect status and broke out as rookies on a rebuilding A’s squad to set the table for what became a solid run of playoff contention from 2018-21.

I do believe Gelof and Soderstrom will reach the big leagues at some point in 2023, and perhaps their cameos this upcoming season as promising prospects will lead to a similar upswing for the A’s.

Why are we signing guys over 30? If we are building for the future and not intending to compete for a playoff run, I’d rather watch three 22-year-olds make progress than a 31-year-old have an OK year.
-- @CoachKlub

I get the frustration from fans wanting to see a full-on youth movement. However, signings like Díaz and Peterson are important for a rebuilding club like this. Those veterans will help a roster full of relatively unproven big leaguers learn how to navigate the rigors of a Major League season by establishing routines and providing leadership. Plus, if some of those veterans end up producing solid numbers and the A’s are out of contention, it could give them a chance to flip those players at the Trade Deadline for more help.

Expect some of those experienced veterans playing on a regular basis at the beginning of the season. But as the year goes along and we get into the second half, I do think the A’s will begin handing over the reins to that next wave of young talent.

What is 's remaining path to being an impact player on this club?
-- @jmenglish27

Pache’s outlook is not looking very bright right now. In the aftermath of the Murphy trade, Forst indicated that the club views as an everyday center fielder who will be ready to contribute to the A’s from the start of the regular season. For Pache to make this club out of Spring Training, he’ll need to show improvements to his overall offensive game -- which remains a work in progress in the Dominican Winter League.

Given that Pache is out of Minor League options, he’s at risk of being traded or even designated for assignment if the A’s decide they view more upside with another corner outfielder in camp, such as .

Who else may be dealt for younger players, and what is your opinion on the Murphy trade?
-- @mradich

I have not heard of any further trading of Major Leaguers on the horizon. and Brown are players in whom other clubs have shown an interest, though it remains to be seen whether the A’s can get a return to their liking for either.

As for the Murphy deal, it comes down to how organizations value certain prospects. The A’s really liked the potential of Ruiz, to the point where he might be the key piece of the five-player return. Forst also mentioned how difficult it is to find and retain good pitching, so adding three in this deal only adds to their depth and increases their chances of hitting on two or three pitchers who develop into full-fledged quality starters in the big leagues.

I think we all expected prospects with a bigger name, but like all trades, time will tell how the A’s fared in this one.