What's your take on the Athletics shopping for a DH?
-- Phil C.
Every offseason, I get more questions about the possibility of the A's landing a big bat, the one that's going to carry them to the World Series. This kind of wishful thinking is just that. Oakland doesn't have the means to reel one in, which is why the club has been creative in building its roster. This very much applies to the A's DH situation. They don't employ a full-time one, as is becoming a trend in the American League, but rather extend their platoon system to this role, too.
John Jaso figures to get the bulk of playing time here in 2014, while manager Bob Melvin also rotates in Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp occasionally in an effort to keep them healthy.
Is there anything on the horizon that will be better than a Nick Punto/Eric Sogard platoon at second base? It seems like that will easily be the weakest spot on the diamond in 2014.
Probably not, but the A's value the defense each one brings and recognize there's potential for a likable platoon, with Alberto Callaspo also an option here. That's a very versatile group to have.
What are your thoughts on all of the buzz regarding a potential Cespedes trade? Though talks have cooled, do you think he stays or goes?
-- Phil C.
Cespedes isn't going anywhere. There was a report about the A's and D-backs discussing a deal involving the Cuban slugger, but the two clubs never came close to a trade. That's not to say he's completely off limits, because few players are, but the A's would have to be blown away by an offer to think about letting him go, and I don't see any type of monster deal unfolding.
Please tell me the A's are going to make a run at Nelson Cruz.
-- Richard D., Tucson, Ariz.
Not likely. This was a fun idea to toy with at the beginning of the offseason, but the A's have since revamped their roster and added to their payroll in the process. Cruz is believed to be seeking as much as four years at more than $15 million annually, which puts him way out of the A's price range at this point. They'd love to have his bat in their lineup, but they're also satisfied going into the 2014 season with their current crop of outfielders.
Which players on the 40-man roster are out of options?
-- Matt D., Sonoma, Calif.
Relievers Fernando Abad, Pedro Figueroa, Evan Scribner, Jesse Chavez and Fernando Rodriguez are all out of options, as are outfielders Corey Brown and Michael Taylor. This means the A's will have to carry them on their active roster or risk losing them on waivers to another team.
Brown and Taylor will battle Shane Peterson for a job as the team's fifth outfielder come spring, and the five relievers listed above will be in competition for only two bullpen spots next to Jim Johnson, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero.
What is Hiroyuki Nakajima's purpose within the A's organization? I remember last year when they were proclaiming him as their next shortstop, but then he got hurt and disappeared. Where does he fit in with the A's plans going forward?
-- Henry N., St. Petersburg
Even before Nakajima incurred a hamstring injury last March, he wasn't Major League-ready. Having recognized this, the A's likely had targeted him to start the season at Triple-A Sacramento, anyway. They like the improvements he's made but are satisfied with their infield group at the moment, and he's not in their plans at the Major League level in the near future. However, they want to give him every opportunity to get to the big leagues and make good on the $6.5 million contract they awarded him last year, so expect to see him at several different positions in Sacramento in an effort to find a good fit.
In early October, the A's had a date in early February for the 2014 FanFest, but I have not been able to find anything on it since. Are you aware of a date set for the next FanFest?
-- Dave S., Concord, Calif.
Yes, FanFest will be held Feb. 8, with tickets for the event going on sale Jan. 9. The A's are expected to release further details, including which players will be attending, in early January.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.