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Offseason checklist: A's needs and moves

@MartinJGallegos
January 13, 2020

OAKLAND -- For a second straight year, the A’s won 97 games and reached the postseason. But for the second straight year, they were also bounced out in the American League Wild Card Game, extending their losing streak in win-or-go-home contests to nine games. What are the A’s biggest needs

OAKLAND -- For a second straight year, the A’s won 97 games and reached the postseason. But for the second straight year, they were also bounced out in the American League Wild Card Game, extending their losing streak in win-or-go-home contests to nine games.

What are the A’s biggest needs entering 2020 in order to get over the hump, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Relief pitching
The A’s have an All-Star closer in Liam Hendriks and a reliable workhorse in Yusmeiro Petit, then a bunch of question marks. Lou Trivino followed up a spectacular rookie season in 2018 with a severe sophomore slump that ended with him on the injured list. Blake Treinen went from dominant All-Star closer in '18 to losing his role to Hendriks in a season filled with injuries. The A's chose to let him become a non-tendered free agent before he ultimately signed with the Dodgers.

For a club looking to overtake the Astros as AL West division champions and avoid the dreaded Wild Card Game, they’ll have to find a way to bolster a bullpen that blew 30 saves, the most in the Majors.

Second base
Jurickson Profar’s defensive issues reached a point where the A’s are looking for another option at the position. Profar was traded to San Diego in a deal that brought back catcher Austin Allen. Franklin Barreto and Jorge Mateo are both out of options next year, so they’ll likely get a chance to battle it out in Spring Training for a chance to seize the job. Sheldon Neuse, who earned a September callup last year and impressed the A’s front office with his ability to handle second after playing third for most of his Minor League career, is another option to take over at the position. Oakland could also look to flip Barreto or Mateo in a deal after its acquisition of veteran utility man Tony Kemp.

MOVES MADE

Jan. 13: A’s trade for Kemp
Addressing their need to bring more of a balance to their righty-heavy offense, the A’s acquired Tony Kemp from the Cubs in exchange for Minor League infielder Alfonso Rivas. Kemp has actually been slightly more successful against left-handers, hitting a career .237 as opposed to .232 against righties, but nonetheless, his left-handed bat fits the profile of what Oakland was looking for. Also possessing the ability to play all three outfield spots, Kemp could find himself in competition with Vimael Machin this spring.

Dec. 12: A’s acquire Machin in Rule 5 Draft
Vimael Machin will enter Spring Training with a good shot to make the Opening Day roster because of the incoming change throughout MLB that increases active rosters sizes to 26 players. He fits the mold of the type of player the A’s were in search of this winter -- a left-handed bat with an ability to play all four infield spots and even some outfield. Machin spent the majority of 2019 with the Cubs Double-A affiliate, hitting .295 with seven home runs, 27 doubles, 65 RBIs and eight stolen bases over 129 games combined at Double-A and Triple-A.

Dec. 12: A’s get Reed in Profar deal
In addition to receiving Allen, the A’s announced 24-year-old outfielder Buddy Reed as the player to be named later from the Padres. Reed was selected by San Diego in the second round of the 2016 Draft and enters the A’s system rated their No. 22 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Dec. 3: Diekman returns on two-year deal
The A’s agreed to a two-year contract with Jake Diekman for a guaranteed $7.5 million with a team option for 2022. The A’s previously declined a $5.75 million club option for 2021 before re-signing the left-hander. Diekman was acquired from the Royals on July 27 and went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 16 walks over 20 1/3 innings.

Dec. 2: Treinen one of three A's non-tendered
After a rough 2019 campaign that was cut short due to injuries, the A's decided not to tender Treinen a contract for the 2020 season. The club remained in contact with the 2018 All-Star closer, hopeful of bringing him back on a cheaper deal, but Treinen eventually reached a one-year deal with the Dodgers on Dec. 15. Left-hander Ryan Buchter and catcher Josh Phegley were also non-tendered by Oakland.

Dec. 2: A’s acquire Allen for Profar
The A’s traded second baseman Profar to the Padres for catcher Allen and a player to be named or cash considerations. Profar batted .218 in his only season in Oakland. Allen batted .215 in 34 games as a rookie, but he hits left-handed and could serve as a complement to Sean Murphy in a backup role.

Nov. 25: A’s sign nine to Minor League deals
The A’s agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Lucas Luetge, right-handed pitchers Ian Gardeck, Zach Lee, Brian Schlitter and Jaime Schultz, catcher Carlos Perez and infielders Eric Campbell, Ryan Goins and Nate Orf on Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training. As we’ve seen in recent years, the A’s have a knack for finding talent that has perhaps been given up on by other clubs and squeezing out some success when calling them up to the Majors.

Nov. 23: Cotton traded to Cubs for cash
In a roster crunch as they looked to find a spot to protect prospect Daulton Jefferies from the Rule 5 Draft, the A’s designated Jharel Cotton for assignment. Three days later, Cotton was moved to the Cubs for cash considerations, officially bringing an end to his time with the organization that traded for him in 2016. Cotton struggled to regain his form in his return from Tommy John surgery last season. He posted a 7.16 ERA over 18 games in the Minor Leagues, 15 of which came as a reliever in an effort to limit his innings. Cotton gets a fresh start elsewhere, while Jefferies, who was named Oakland’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year by MLB Pipeline, looks to make an impact with the A’s as early as 2020.

Nov. 4: McFarland claimed off waivers
It’s no guarantee T.J. McFarland, whom the A’s claimed off waivers from the D-backs, makes the club out of Spring Training. But at the very least, he provides some much-needed depth as a left-handed reliever, something the A’s bullpen went without for parts of the 2019 season. McFarland posted a 4.82 ERA over a career-high 51 appearances with Arizona last season.

Oct. 31: Petit gets club option picked up
Petit is a favorite of A’s manager Bob Melvin. Not only is the 34-year-old right-hander still getting it done, having led the AL with 80 appearances while posting a 2.71 ERA, he’s also a valuable resource for the younger pitchers on the staff. Petit will earn $5.5 million next season.

Oct. 31: Diekman’s club option declined
The A's chose to let Diekman become a free agent rather than pick up a $5.75 million option for 2021. Diekman was brought in via trade from the Royals on July 27 in an effort to solidify the A’s bullpen, but the lefty struggled with command.

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