OAKLAND -- The A's will soon take their search for a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder to Florida, with the annual Winter Meetings set to open Monday.Oakland's needs are relatively minimal this offseason, as the club attempts to stay the course of a youth movement that began months ago. But the A's,
OAKLAND -- The A's will soon take their search for a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder to Florida, with the annual Winter Meetings set to open Monday.
Oakland's needs are relatively minimal this offseason, as the club attempts to stay the course of a youth movement that began months ago. But the A's, who are coming off their third consecutive last-place finish in the AL West, have already made small but significant steps with an eye toward better days by upgrading their bullpen.
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The work doesn't stop there, though. Here's a closer look at where things stand for them heading into next week's Winter Meetings:
Corner outfielder: A's decision-makers identify this is as their focal point, and they're not without options via trade. Finding the right match, though, could take time, and the A's continue to diligently evaluate all of their options while waiting out a market that had been in limbo because of moves involving Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani. Reeling in a right-handed outfield bat who can play the corners would allow the A's to plug in Khris Davis at DH on most days.
Left-handed reliever: The A's have already engineered two moves to bolster their bullpen this offseason, sacrificing Ryon Healy in a trade with Seattle that netted them right-hander Emilio Pagan and came to terms on a two-year deal with free-agent right-hander Yusmeiro Petit. Still, the A's would like to add a left-handed arm to their current mix, with Daniel Coulombe as their lone southpaw right now.
Veteran starter: Though this isn't a priority for the A's, who are stocked with young starting arms, expect them to monitor available options. Oakland won't overspend on a starter, considering depth is already abundant, but it would seemingly behoove any club to have an experienced, veteran arm on staff.
Who they can trade if necessary
Jed Lowrie: The A's fully expect Lowrie to be their second baseman on Opening Day after picking up his $6 million club option for 2018, but they'd also be willing to listen on offers for him should other clubs project strong interest. That's because they have top prospect Franklin Barreto waiting to take over at the position any time now.
Starting arms: Though the A's are potentially looking to add, rather than substract, to their rotation, they're equipped with the kind of depth that would allow them to trade from their surplus. That's not to say the A's would part with a Sean Manaea or Paul Blackburn, but others could be expendable: Jesse Hahn, Raul Alcantara and Andrew Triggs to name a few.
Per MLBPipeline.com, the A's top 10 prospects are Barreto, lefty A.J. Puk, outfielder Dustin Fowler, shortstop Jorge Mateo, outfielder Austin Beck, left-hander Jesus Luzardo, outfielder Lazaro Armenteros, right-hander Logan Shore, right-hander Grant Holmes and right-hander James Kaprielian.
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Fowler is the only player expected to begin the season on the Major League roster, with Barreto as an outside possibility. Puk and Holmes could potentially work their way through Triple-A and see big league time in the club's rotation by season's end, and the rest are farther away.
Rule 5 Draft
The A's 40-man roster is full, meaning they currently don't have an open spot to facilitate a selection in the Rule 5 Draft.
They also couldn't participate in the Major League phase of last year's draft for the same reason, but they did lose right-hander Dylan Covey to the White Sox.
Big contracts they might unload
The A's don't have any big contracts on the books. Davis is expected to be their highest-paid player next season, with a projected $11-plus million salary on the horizon following arbitration. Though there's been speculation that the A's could dangle Davis in a trade, they've strongly voiced their desire to keep him.
Oakland's Opening Day payroll likely isn't going to exceed much more than $60 million barring a big-splash signing that remains unlikely. The A's insist they're readying to spend with a new ballpark in sight, but that time isn't now.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast.