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Inbox: Do A's need an experienced starter?

Beat reporter Jane Lee fields questions from fans
MLB.com @JaneMLB

The consensus is we need an experienced starter. Didn't we just trade Sonny Gray for extra infielders and an outfielder with unproven capabilities?
-- Michael C., Martinez, Calif.

Make that one infielder (Jorge Mateo), one outfielder with serious potential (Dustin Fowler) and one pitcher (James Kaprielian) -- the latter rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and considered a significant piece of a future A's rotation. Still, I understand what you're saying and can assure you that questions regarding the potential addition of an experienced starter have been asked of the club's decision-makers numerous times this offseason. I'd venture to guess they're sick of hearing them, too.

The consensus is we need an experienced starter. Didn't we just trade Sonny Gray for extra infielders and an outfielder with unproven capabilities?
-- Michael C., Martinez, Calif.

Make that one infielder (Jorge Mateo), one outfielder with serious potential (Dustin Fowler) and one pitcher (James Kaprielian) -- the latter rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and considered a significant piece of a future A's rotation. Still, I understand what you're saying and can assure you that questions regarding the potential addition of an experienced starter have been asked of the club's decision-makers numerous times this offseason. I'd venture to guess they're sick of hearing them, too.

The answer is the same each time: The A's like the young starters they have -- including Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn and Jharel Cotton -- enough that they're not going to add a veteran arm simply for the sake of doing so. They are open to the idea of bringing in an experienced starter if the fit is right, but it doesn't sound like they're thrilled with the options out there. That could obviously change between now and Spring Training, but it remains a low priority.

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Is Chad Pinder being considered as an everyday outfielder? He's certainly got the bat, and he looked pretty good in the outfield with a very strong arm.
-- Joe L., Tampa, Fla.

Pinder definitely seems up for the task, but at this point it's looking like he will enter the season in a platoon with Matt Joyce in one of the corner-outfield spots -- presumably left field, because Stephen Piscotty is most comfortable in right. The A's also like the idea of having Pinder available to play multiple positions, and he seemed to embrace that role last season. When he's not in the outfield, he has the ability to play the middle infield, a luxury the A's plan to take advantage of.

Video: OAK@PHI: Pinder cranks a solo homer to left-center

Do you think Frankie Montas can earn a starting job next year? Or do you think he has a chance for a bullpen spot or that the A's should move on from him?
-- Yves R., Montreal

First and foremost, the A's want to keep Montas healthy. That means a relief role would be more logical, even though they've always liked the idea of stretching him out as a starter. Montas hasn't been able to stay on the field long enough to build up the innings required of one, however. The A's tried to stretch him out some during the midseason in Triple-A Nashville, and he managed to make five straight four-inning starts before he was shut down in August due to injury.

Moreover, his repertoire -- the classic fastball-slider combination -- is best suited for the bullpen. The 24-year-old power pitcher must learn to harness his command, no matter his job, and only then will the A's be inclined to try him out on the big league stage once again. Sure, he might be expendable at this point, but I'd imagine the A's would prefer keeping as many bodies capable of throwing 100-plus mph as possible.

Video: BOS@OAK: Montas strikes out five over three innings

What is the plan for Jesse Hahn? And if there is no plan, why not trade him?
-- Moises D., Las Vegas

I do think a change of scenery could benefit Hahn, which is why I would be in favor of a trade. At the same time, pitching depth can't ever be overstated, and we've seen enough strange things involving Hahn over the years to know he could be back in the rotation at some point, be it at the start of the season or later on. The talent is there. The 28-year-old right-hander just hasn't been able to stick around since injury prematurely ended his impressive 2015 season.

Since then, it seems he's been on a short leash. He appeared to be rounding back into form last season, posting a 3.56 ERA through 11 starts before unraveling in consecutive outings against the Astros in late June. Back he went to Triple-A before injury derailed yet another season. Around the same time, Paul Blackburn kept shining, and Hahn once again fell out of favor. It's been a rough go for him in recent years, but I still wouldn't sleep on him next year.

Video: TOR@OAK: Hahn goes six strong, earns the win

Given the recent off-the-field problems surrounding Bruce Maxwell, will the A's look into acquiring another catcher via free agency?
-- Tim P., New York

This topic was raised at the Winter Meetings, and general manager David Forst continued to express confidence in having Maxwell in A's camp this spring. Like the rest of us, Forst is waiting out the legal process, but I doubt he would say he expects to be able to move forward with Maxwell if he didn't actually believe it. Maxwell is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct stemming from his Oct. 28 arrest at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home, where he allegedly pointed a gun at a female food delivery driver.

The incident was obviously unfortunate, and it's fair to wonder about a backup plan, but Forst insists a catcher is not on his shopping list. That's not to say he hasn't been contacted by agents of available catchers -- and perhaps he circles back to them should Maxwell face serious discipline. The A's do have two other catchers on their 40-man roster in Dustin Garneau and Josh Phegley, but both are right-handed bats, a less than ideal pairing.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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