If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the approach the A’s likely will take when assembling their 2020 roster after coming off their second consecutive 97-win season.
Sure, there are a couple of areas that will need to be addressed in the offseason. But for the most part, the A’s possess a core of young players who have only just begun to form what could be something special in Oakland for the next several years.
Here’s an early take on how the A’s 2020 Opening Day roster could look (rosters will expand next season to 26 spots from 25 in '19).
Locks: Sean Murphy
Possibilities: Josh Phegley, Beau Taylor, free agent/trade
Murphy is likely to get the majority of playing time, though the A’s would be wise to pair him with a capable backup given his recent injury history. Phegley and Taylor are candidates to return due to their familiarity with the pitching staff. Oakland also could look to acquire a veteran backstop who can be a mentor for the rookie Murphy.
Possibilities: Jurickson Profar, Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse, free agent/trade
Second base will be the biggest question mark for Oakland entering the offseason. Profar is set for salary arbitration and he could return, though his major defensive issues would likely see him shift into more of a utility role. Barreto, Mateo and Neuse all likely will compete for playing time in Spring Training, with Barreto and Mateo both out of options for next season. The A’s could look for help at the position through free agency or via trade.
Locks: Marcus Semien
Semien earned American League MVP Award consideration for his spectacular 2019 campaign, and given his status as one of only five players in the Majors to have appeared in all 162 games this season, don’t expect him to want many days off.
Locks: Chad Pinder
Possibilities: Barreto, Profar
Pinder is the epitome of a super-utility man. He played at every position except pitcher and catcher last year, delivering the production of an everyday player anywhere he was plugged into on the field.
Locks: Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty
Possibilities: Seth Brown, Robbie Grossman
Laureano will reclaim center field after a brief move to right at the end of last season as he eased his way back from injury. Piscotty should get his right-field job back as long as he remains healthy after an injury-filled 2019, while Canha’s breakout season likely earned him the job in left.
Locks: Khris Davis
It was an uncharacteristic year for Davis, who did not hit at least 40 home runs for the first time since 2015. His track record and the two-year extension he signed last spring will keep him as the DH to begin the year as he looks to get back to his prolific slugging ways.
Locks: Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Mike Fiers, A.J. Puk
Possibilities: Brett Anderson, Homer Bailey, Tanner Roark
This is the year the A’s have been waiting for on the pitching side. Manaea is fully recovered from shoulder surgery and top prospects Luzardo and Puk have finally arrived, set to start the year in the rotation after their 2019 cameos out of the bullpen. Fiers is the veteran of the staff who also happens to be coming off the best season of his career, while Montas will try to keep up his success that was halted midseason due to a suspension for a performance-enhancing substance.
Locks: Liam Hendriks, Lou Trivino, Yusmeiro Petit
Possibilities: Jake Diekman, Blake Treinen, J.B. Wendelken, Ryan Buchter, free agents/trade
After tying for the Major League lead in blown saves with 31, a bullpen renovation might be in order. Hendriks is a lock after an All-Star campaign. Petit had his club option picked up after another strong season. Trivino will look to get closer to his dominant 2018 rookie numbers following a poor 2019. After these three, it remains to be seen who joins them in the bullpen. Treinen was an All-Star in 2018, but after losing the closer’s job in 2019, his projected raise through arbitration this offseason could lead to him getting non-tendered by the A’s. Expect Oakland to explore adding a few relief arms through trade or free agency.