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Inbox: Will A's bolster rotation this offseason?

Beat reporter Jane Lee answers questions from fans
MLB.com @JaneMLB

Is it realistic to hope we acquire a starting pitcher through a trade, or is that something we are more likely to fill in free agency?
-- @ElephantBall

Either is possible, but the latter is more likely. Sources indicate the A's have discussed bringing Sonny Gray back from the Yankees, but the asking price appears to be too high. That could change, of course, but Oakland is setting its sights on other options in the meantime. The club isn't expected to be a player for any remaining big-name free-agent starters -- think Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ -- but the A's could emerge with one or two low-cost alternatives from the open market. I suggested a few options here.

Is it realistic to hope we acquire a starting pitcher through a trade, or is that something we are more likely to fill in free agency?
-- @ElephantBall

Either is possible, but the latter is more likely. Sources indicate the A's have discussed bringing Sonny Gray back from the Yankees, but the asking price appears to be too high. That could change, of course, but Oakland is setting its sights on other options in the meantime. The club isn't expected to be a player for any remaining big-name free-agent starters -- think Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ -- but the A's could emerge with one or two low-cost alternatives from the open market. I suggested a few options here.

There was much ado from fans about the decision to non-tender Mike Fiers, but his anticipated 2019 salary ($10 million) could ultimately amount to the price of two starters for Oakland.

:: Submit a question to the A's Inbox ::

The A's always said they are building a team to hit the ground running when the new stadium is done. Have we started to peak too early?
-- @RussellsRitings

This is a dreamy idea, but it's more idealistic than realistic. If 2018 proved anything, it's that you can't always plan for such things; the A's ran all the way to the postseason, far ahead of schedule, and they now must do right by this group and better the club to stay competitive in 2019. They're not going to simply sit back and field a perpetually middling team, only to strike ahead of a planned 2023 stadium opening. Nothing is guaranteed in this game. Heck, the stadium isn't even yet guaranteed. So while it would be nice to see their new ballpark renderings come to life -- notably a "2023 World Series" logo on the scoreboard -- the A's baseball brass must stay on course in the meantime and do their best to contend now, rather than plan to contend later.

Jed Lowrie is projected to make about $12 million, double what he made last season. And with Khris Davis' arbitration number about $18 million, what are the chances Jed takes less to come back?
-- @roddster510

I'm guessing Lowrie may be game to take less -- but only if the A's can guarantee him a multi-year pact. MLB Trade Rumors projected a three-year, $30 million deal for Lowrie at the onset of the offseason, and I just don't know that the A's are willing to commit so many dollars ahead of Lowrie's age-35 season. That's not to say he's not worth it. Lowrie is an extremely valuable commodity, but does it make sense for Oakland to pay him substantial dollars for three years when it already has infield prospect Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings? Probably not.

Even still, Lowrie will likely have plenty of attractable suitors since an AAV of $10 million is chump change for most other clubs.

Do you see A.J. Puk cracking the rotation?
-- @msully17

Not anytime soon. This was a question that carried significant weight last spring, as Puk continually impressed in big league camp, but injury rehab following Tommy John surgery will keep him out of action for several more months. Puk underwent the procedure in April, and the rehab process can typically stretch well over the year mark. The A's will be cautious with their prized pitching prospect, ranked No. 2 on the club's Top 30 Prospects list by MLB Pipeline, and will likely guard from attaching a timeline to his return. Best case scenario, he's on a rehab assignment during the second half of the season. Maybe, then, we can revisit this question.

While the official press conference is not until Saturday, what do you think Las Vegas will change their name to as the A's Triple-A affiliate?
-- @msully17

Word was out on this one months ago, so Saturday's announcement won't amount to much of a surprise. As a nod to Howard Hughes -- the Howard Hughes Corporation owns the ballclub -- the new Triple-A affiliate is expected to take on the name of the Aviators.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.

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