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A's have 3 clear needs ahead of 2019 season

December 19, 2018

The year 2018 proved extremely kind to the A's, who enjoyed a surprising playoff appearance and a slew of ensuing accolades following a string of frustrating seasons. Now, they seek to maintain this success with some of the game's top talent -- hello, Khris Davis and Blake Treinen -- and

The year 2018 proved extremely kind to the A's, who enjoyed a surprising playoff appearance and a slew of ensuing accolades following a string of frustrating seasons. Now, they seek to maintain this success with some of the game's top talent -- hello, Khris Davis and Blake Treinen -- and a core of young studs, including Matt Chapman and Matt Olson.
A's 2019 schedule
But supplementary pieces remain missing. The A's have been extremely quiet this winter outside of a few minor transactions, setting up what should be a frenzied month ahead of Spring Training. Their needs are clear:
1. Build a rotation: The A's are equipped with only so many starters: Daniel Mengden, Chris Bassitt, Paul Blackburn, Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks represent in-house options, collectively showcasing mild-to-moderate big league success. Then there are prospects Jesus Luzardo and Grant Holmes, who add intrigue to the mix. But the A's yearn for, and need, more. Much more.

It remains to be seen just how the A's intend to build a rotation that can help maintain the competitive nature of a club that counted off 97 wins in 2018. At this point it appears the A's will wait out the market and pinpoint under-the-radar targets that could bring great value. Translation: don't expect them to make a splash here.
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2. Pick a second baseman: Jed Lowrie remains available, but at a price the A's can afford? It's unlikely. The A's are willing to spend, but history tells us another club will spend more, and Lowrie likely deserves every penny following some of the best years of his career. The A's will not be left without options if and when this happens, though. They also already have one on their roster; Franklin Barreto, key to the 2014 Josh Donaldson deal, is thought to be near-ready for a full-time job at second base. The A's could let the kid play, but it seems more likely that, at the very least, they find a platoon partner for the 22-year-old.
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3. Find catching: Like Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy is still out there on the free-agent market, and the A's are still on the hunt for Lucroy's replacement should they not come to terms on a new agreement with him. The A's have said they'd be comfortable beginning the season with a platoon of Josh Phegley and Chris Herrmann, but the position screams for an upgrade, and they seem very much inclined to get one while they wait out catching prospect Sean Murphy, who will continue his development at Triple-A in 2019.

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