I'm a huge fan of the Chris Young trade and think that he'll be a great addition to the offense. What's next for the A's? What is their biggest need now? What other moves will they make?
-- Ryan M., Alameda, Calif.
Their biggest concern at the moment is taking care of unfinished business with players already on their roster, notably Stephen Drew. Should the two sides agree to activate Drew's $10 million mutual option, the A's offseason to-do list isn't weighed down by the prospect of finding a shortstop, which could prove to be a hefty task if talks with Drew don't work out as planned.
Outside of shortstop, it's a safe bet the A's are assessing their starting pitching. Though already a strength, the staff is still quite young, and Oakland is likely to beef it up by way of a few veteran additions. One could come through the re-signing of Brandon McCarthy, while the A's are also expected to seek out other free agents they might entice by way of a one-year deal.
Will Dallas Braden ever pitch for the A's again, or have we seen the last of him in Oakland?
-- Jeff P., San Ramon, Calif.
Two shoulder surgeries in two years seemingly make his return unlikely, and Braden, a subsequent non-tender possibility, understands this more than anyone. The southpaw isn't expected to be able to pitch again until July 2013, so the A's could potentially go the route of a Minor League deal to keep him in the fold, before assessing where he's at when healthy. Braden likes being near home in Stockton, Calif., where he and his grandmother reside year-round, and he has such strong ties to the A's organization that I'd think he'd strongly consider this if it becomes the leading option.
Where does Travis Blackley fit in next year? Could we maybe see him back in the rotation, or do you think that he's best suited for the bullpen? Either way, I hope he's on the team because he was a big part of their success this year.
-- Marc L., Fresno, Calif.
Blackley, like most members of the pitching staff, is under club control, so he'll definitely be in the mix for a big-league job coming out of camp. Whether he gets one -- and where he gets one, be it in the rotation or bullpen -- will depend on how his competitors fare, but he does carry an advantage most don't: he'll be out of options, so if the A's decide to designate him, he'd have to clear waivers before reentering Oakland's system, and it's likely that another team would pick him up should that happen.
Blackley was such a versatile roster piece this season that the A's would presumably have a hard time taking that chance, so he figures to be given every opportunity to make the team, and I see that happening for him in a long-relief role.
What happens at first base? As much as I liked how well the platoon of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter worked out this year, I'm not sure it can last. We need stability there, so any chance they look elsewhere for someone?
-- Vic D., San Jose, Calif.
I completely understand the hesitation in buying into the idea that the combined success had between Moss and Carter can be repeated in the fashion that was on display this year, but the A's seem comfortable with waiting to see if it does. And, really, they don't have any other choice, since outside options will be limited.
Moss' bat proved to be quite the weapon down the stretch, and if you combine that threat with his versatility on the field, it's clear he lends this team several options in the lineup. Carter, meanwhile, showed several flashes of the player the A's always envisioned this year, minus a rough patch at the end, and his continued improvement, coupled with more chances at facing right-handers, may very well lead to the everyday job at first base.
There's also Daric Barton, who, like Moss and Carter, will be out of options, so he'll need to impress the heck out of everyone in camp to assure his place in the organization is safe.
I read somewhere that Yoenis Cespedes wants to play center field in 2013. Is that true? Would they move Coco Crisp back to left field again?
-- Dan H., Oakland, Calif.
Most likely not. Cespedes will probably always consider center field home, but the A's see that place being left field for him, and it's hard to argue that, considering the strides he made there this year. Cespedes looked lost in left at the start, but he proceeded to not only make routine plays there with ease but difficult ones, too, and he figures to only get better with more experience. So he'll remain there for now, while Crisp resumes center-field duties, with Young also an option at both on days when the former two are rested.