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Who might make the A's Opening Day roster?

@MartinJGallegos
November 6, 2020

A strong young core that has helped lead the A’s to playoff appearances over the past three seasons remains intact. But with 10 players from the 2020 club set to hit free agency, the makeup of the '21 Opening Day roster could look dramatically different from last season. • Offseason

A strong young core that has helped lead the A’s to playoff appearances over the past three seasons remains intact. But with 10 players from the 2020 club set to hit free agency, the makeup of the '21 Opening Day roster could look dramatically different from last season.

Offseason checklist: A's needs and moves

With a free-agent market that is expected to move slowly throughout the winter, here’s an early look at how an A’s 26-man roster is shaping up.

Catcher (2): Sean Murphy, Jonah Heim
After quietly putting together a solid rookie campaign during the regular season, Murphy busted out in the postseason by flexing his muscle with some big home runs in both the American League Wild Card and Division Series. He’ll get the bulk of the playing time behind the plate. Heim, who impressed over the final month of the regular season, will enter Spring Training as the favorite for the backup job, though Austin Allen will also be in the mix.

First base (1): Matt Olson
Olson has his spot secured, not only providing a powerful bat in the middle of the order but also Gold Glove Award-caliber defense.

Second base (2): Tony Kemp, Vimael Machín
Before Tommy La Stella arrived via trade from the Angels just before the Deadline, Kemp received a healthy amount of playing time at second in a platoon with Chad Pinder. The A’s will likely try to re-sign La Stella, who is a free agent. If they are unsuccessful in that attempt, Kemp could return to that platoon role in 2021. Machín will likely back up multiple infield positions given his versatility.

Third base (1): Matt Chapman
The A’s expect Chapman to make a full recovery from his season-ending hip surgery in time for Spring Training. An All-Star with Gold Glove-caliber defense, Chapman has emerged as a true leader for this club.

Shortstop (1): Free-agent signing
Though the A’s chose not to make a qualifying offer to Marcus Semien, the door is still open for Oakland to re-sign its longtime shortstop. If Semien ends up signing elsewhere, there is no strong candidate currently on the 40-man roster for the spot, so the A’s would likely look to sign a veteran-type shortstop on the free-agent market.

Marcus Semien rumors | Hot Stove Tracker

Outfield (4): Mark Canha, Ramón Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Seth Brown
With Robbie Grossman hitting free agency and likely to sign with another club, the A’s outfield becomes less crowded with Canha, Laureano and Piscotty expected to play every day. Brown is a strong candidate to begin the season as the club’s fourth outfielder, though the A’s will have plenty of competition for that role, including No. 8 prospect Luis Barrera.

Designated hitter (1): Khris Davis
Davis was relegated to a bench role as he struggled through most of the regular season, though his power resurgence during the postseason has him in position to regain the majority of the starts at DH.

Utility (1): Chad Pinder
Proving his value with strong play at the hot corner in Chapman’s absence last season, Pinder will continue his key role with the team as a super-utility man who can play every position outside of pitcher and catcher.

Starting pitchers (5): Chris Bassitt, Jesús Luzardo, Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, A.J. Puk
Barring injury, the A’s are set with their first four rotation slots. Puk, Oakland’s No. 1 prospect, is rehabbing from shoulder surgery, and though he’s expected to be ready for Spring Training, his shoulder health will determine whether he can finally make his long-awaited debut as a starter in the big leagues. With the absence of Mike Fiers and Mike Minor, both of whom are free agents, expect the A’s to sign one or two veteran-type starters to increase depth. Other top pitching prospects such as Daulton Jefferies, James Kaprielian and Grant Holmes could also be in competition for that fifth slot in the rotation.

Relievers (8): Jake Diekman, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, Jordan Weems, Burch Smith, free-agent signings
With Liam Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria hitting free agency, the A’s are down a closer and two high-leverage right-handers. With Hendriks expected to receive a lucrative contract elsewhere, Oakland may have to rely on one of its younger relievers to take over ninth-inning duties. The bullpen is definitely an area you can expect the A’s to target during free agency.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.