Post-All-Star break is a pretty accurate timetable for Luzardo, the A’s No. 1 prospect. The left-hander’s fastball reached 99 mph in his rehab start with Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday, as he struck out five batters over 3 1/3 innings. Luzardo will be pushed up to five innings and 75-80 pitches in his next Triple-A start, which will come Thursday in Fresno. Once he gets built up to 100 pitches, which would likely come in his third Triple-A start on July 2, his arrival to Oakland could come as early as the week after.
Puk is a little further behind as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Currently on a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Stockton, the left-hander is expected to make stops at each of the next two levels of the Minors. An August Major League debut is more likely for the A’s No. 2 prospect, and the club may pitch Puk out of the bullpen in an effort to limit his innings before converting him back to a starter in 2020.
What do the A’s do at the Trade Deadline? Are they more likely to acquire help in the rotation or pen?
-- @510ProSports via Twitter
With such a premium placed on starting pitchers every Trade Deadline, a deal for a relief pitcher is the more likely move, and probably the A's biggest need at this point. Oakland’s 4.32 bullpen ERA ranks seventh in the American League. With closer Blake Treinen and setup man Lou Trivino both struggling to find their 2018 forms this season, the A’s could look to bring more stability to the back end of the bullpen, as they did last year with the acquisitions of Jeurys Familia and Fernando Rodney. One potential option could be across the Bay in Giants closer Will Smith, who has converted all 20 of his save opportunities and holds a 2.01 ERA over 32 games, for a club expected to sell off many of their pieces as they look to rebuild.
The A’s believe they have some help on the way for the rotation in Luzardo and Sean Manaea returning from injuries, but a trade for another starter is not out of the question. However, I would think a trade for a second-tier starter would be the more likely move, similar to their trade for Mike Fiers last August.
Who takes Frankie Montas’ spot in the rotation?
-- @staronson via Twitter
It’ll be tough to replicate the value Montas brought to the club considering the season he was putting together before his 80-game suspension for PEDs. The right-hander was emerging as a likely All-Star and a potential AL Cy Young Award candidate, going 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA, with 97 strikeouts and 21 walks over 90 innings. Daniel Mengden and Paul Blackburn are two candidates to fill the spot in the interim, while Luzardo or Manaea are the likely options for the long-term once fully healthy.
After the signing of slugger Khris Davis to a two-year extension, it’s tough to see an extension coming for any of those three players. That’s not to say they’re not deserving. These three not only make an impact at the plate, but have emerged as stellar defenders at their positions as well. The A’s just don’t have a history of handing out large contracts, with Eric Chavez’s six-year, $66 million contract in 2004 being their last real “mega-deal.”
You could look at Astros third baseman Alex Bregman’s five-year, $100 million extension signed this past offseason for an idea of what it would take to lock up Chapman. Both players are similar in age and production, but my guess is Chapman continues to go year to year with Oakland. He becomes arbitration-eligible after the 2020 season and can’t qualify for free agency until '24, so the Gold Glover should still stick around for a while.
What are the A’s waiting for to bring up Jorge Mateo?
-- @PeterDjSazon via Twitter
There was a point in May where this could have been a possibility with Jurickson Profar’s struggles both on defense and at the plate. He led the league in errors and was hitting well below .200 for a period of time, but the second baseman has picked it up over the past month, batting .296 in June with two home runs and six doubles.
Profar’s uptick in play means Mateo, Oakland's No. 8 prospect, is blocked from the Major Leagues despite the strong season he’s putting together at Triple-A. Unless one of the A’s middle infielders goes down with an injury, Mateo’s arrival likely won’t come until rosters are expanded in September.
Update on Andrew Triggs?
-- @ptracey333 via Twitter
Triggs is with Triple-A Las Vegas and has been out of action since April 12, when he was placed on the seven-day injured list. He compiled a 6.75 ERA in three outings before leaving a game with a hip injury. A part of Oakland’s rotation in 2018, durability became a concern for Triggs, and he was expected to convert back to a reliever in the Minor Leagues this season. It’s still unclear to this point when Triggs might get back on a mound for Las Vegas.
Is it unreasonable to fantasize about the near future prospects of an A’s rotation that includes Manaea, Montas, Luzardo and Puk?
-- @WhiskeyLeavins via Twitter
Depends on your definition of “near future.” If you’re talking 2020, absolutely. Luzardo and Manaea should be in the rotation at some point this season, but Puk won’t start games in Oakland until '20. The currently suspended Montas will be eligible to return during the final week of the regular season.
Could the A’s trade for Madison Bumgarner?
-- @drdavidshapiro via Twitter
Seeing Madison Bumgarner in Green and Gold would certainly be an odd sight, but one that would make a lot of sense for a playoff-contending club that is devoid of a true ace. With the A’s recent history of early playoff exits, Bumgarner certainly would bring a welcomed championship pedigree, but that’s also what is going to make him a hot commodity for other contending teams looking for a starter. I would think Oakland would at least check in with San Francisco about the possibility, but my guess is there will be another club out there offering a haul of prospects for the big left-hander that I’m not sure the A’s want to try to match.