A's 2018 bullpen off on right foot, seeking lefty

January 9th, 2018

OAKLAND -- The A's sought to improve their bullpen this offseason, a chore they took on with might following a disastrous relief showing in 2017.

Striking early, the A's swung a deal with the Mariners for right-hander in November, later reeling in a versatile veteran in right-hander on a two-year deal. And yet, work remains, with the A's monitoring the market for a second lefty to join .

There's no shortage of right-handers, a good problem that will foster competition come spring. Given the club's rotation depth, several could-be starters -- , , -- will likely find themselves fighting for a bullpen spot.

The A's carried eight relievers for most of 2017 and could do so again this season, though it's not ideal considering they'd be left with a three-man bench. MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the A's might stack up:

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

RHP

RHP Chris Hatcher

RHP Emilio Pagan

RHP

RHP Yusmeiro Petit

RHP

RHP

LHP Daniel Coulombe

STRENGTH

There's uncertainty surrounding the reliability of Oakland's rotation, amplifying the importance of a strong relief corps, particularly when it comes to length. The A's have that in several arms, starting with Petit, who can excel in any role thrown his way. Pagan is also capable of throwing multiple innings in a game, with others, like Dull and Hendriks, able to do the same on occasion.

This attribute also speaks to this group's versatility. When not providing length, Petit, Pagan and others also have the ability to pitch behind Treinen, giving manager Bob Melvin a handful of setup options at his disposal on any given day.

QUESTION MARK

Melvin would prefer to stick with seven relievers, which could lead to difficult decisions at the end of camp. Who stays and who goes? Casilla, though guaranteed $6 million this year, could potentially be on the bubble. Same for Hendriks. Both pitchers struggled last year, and the A's may be forced to cut ties with one of them depending on how things shake out.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE

Adding another left-hander to the mix remains a priority for the A's, who seem more inclined to do so via the open market. Available options include Tony Watson, and . Should they make a move before the regular season opens, yet another right-handed candidate would subsequently be pushed out.