A's set Opening Day roster
MESA, Ariz. -- As expected, the A’s faced some tough roster decisions in the final days of camp, none more difficult than Cristian Pache.
Despite a promising Cactus League showing at the plate in which he hit .302 (13-for-43), Pache learned Tuesday that he would not be making the Opening Day roster. Out of Minor League options, the 24-year-old outfielder was traded to the Phillies on Wednesday for right-hander Billy Sullivan.
There are other position battles that came down to the wire. With the official roster having been announced Thursday, here’s a look at how it’s lining up for Opening Night at the Oakland Coliseum:
Catcher (2): Shea Langeliers, Carlos Pérez
A lingering wrist issue that limited expected backup catcher Manny Piña to one Cactus League game opened the door for Pérez, who seized the backup job after signing a Minor League deal with the A’s during the final week of Spring Training. Langeliers, who showed promise as a rookie over the second half of the 2022 campaign, is set to fill the role of starting catcher that was vacated by Sean Murphy, who was traded to the Braves this offseason.
First base (2): Jesús Aguilar, Ryan Noda
A main draw for Aguilar signing his one-year contract with Oakland this winter was the opportunity for ample playing time, as the slugger looks to bounce back from a down year with Miami and Baltimore in 2022.
Noda, a power-hitting first baseman who displayed strong ability to get on base throughout the Minors, was selected by the A’s in the Rule 5 Draft in December and will get ample time at first while Aguilar serves mostly as the designated hitter.
Second base (1): Tony Kemp
Kemp’s versatility will come into play again this year, as he’ll likely also spend some time in left field.
Third base (1): Jace Peterson
The metrics rated Peterson as a plus defender at third base with the Brewers last season. The A’s consider him a reliable everyday option at the hot corner, and he also brings the ability to play second base and both corner-outfield spots.
Shortstop (1): Nick Allen
Allen’s slick defense shined in his rookie campaign as he graduated from top-prospect status to the Majors last season. He will begin the season in a platoon with newcomer Aledmys Díaz at shortstop, with most of his playing time coming against left-handed pitchers.
Outfield (5): Seth Brown, Esteury Ruiz, Ramón Laureano, Brent Rooker, Conner Capel
Brown put together a career-best 25 home runs and 73 RBIs last season, and he will be relied upon as a middle-of-the-order presence for an A’s lineup that's short on experienced sluggers. Ruiz, an outfield prospect who came over in the Murphy deal, is the expected everyday center fielder. Laureano is looking to rebound from a frustrating, injury-filled 2022.
Rooker and Capel played their way onto the club with strong performances this spring. Both will see time in the corner outfield spots, Rooker mostly in left and Capel in right.
Utility (1): Aledmys Díaz
The A’s are quite familiar with Díaz from their battles with the Astros in recent years. The 32-year-old utility man signed a two-year deal this offseason after slashing .255/.313/.425 with 32 homers and 107 runs with Houston from 2019-22. He'll be a regular on the left side of the infield.
Starting pitchers (5): Kyle Muller, Shintaro Fujinami, Ken Waldichuk, James Kaprielian, JP Sears
Muller gets his first career Opening Day nod in what will be his first season with Oakland, having come over as Atlanta’s No. 1 prospect in the Murphy trade. Fujinami, who is accustomed to pitching in six-man rotations in Japan, will only pitch once a week as the A’s look to limit his workload.
The rotation will likely change once 2022 All-Star Paul Blackburn and right-hander Drew Rucinski are eligible to return from the injured list.
Relievers (8): Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, Domingo Acevedo, Dany Jiménez, Zach Jackson, Sam Moll, Adrián Martínez, Adam Oller
Familia’s experience as a closer could lead to some save opportunities, though the A’s are expected to begin the season with a closer-by-committee situation, with May, Jiménez and Acevedo also in the mix for closing duties. Oller will work out of the bullpen in a swingman role with opportunities to make occasional spot starts.