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A's 2018 bullpen off on right foot, seeking lefty

MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The A's sought to improve their bullpen this offseason, a chore they took on with might following a disastrous relief showing in 2017.

Striking early, the A's swung a deal with the Mariners for right-hander Emilio Pagan in November, later reeling in a versatile veteran in right-hander Yusmeiro Petit on a two-year deal. And yet, work remains, with the A's monitoring the market for a second lefty to join Daniel Coulombe.

OAKLAND -- The A's sought to improve their bullpen this offseason, a chore they took on with might following a disastrous relief showing in 2017.

Striking early, the A's swung a deal with the Mariners for right-hander Emilio Pagan in November, later reeling in a versatile veteran in right-hander Yusmeiro Petit on a two-year deal. And yet, work remains, with the A's monitoring the market for a second lefty to join Daniel Coulombe.

There's no shortage of right-handers, a good problem that will foster competition come spring. Given the club's rotation depth, several could-be starters -- Andrew Triggs, Chris Bassitt, Raul Alcantara -- will likely find themselves fighting for a bullpen spot.

Video: LAA@OAK: Triggs allows one run over six solid innings

The A's carried eight relievers for most of 2017 and could do so again this season, though it's not ideal considering they'd be left with a three-man bench. MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the A's might stack up:

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
RHP Blake Treinen
RHP Chris Hatcher
RHP Emilio Pagan
RHP Santiago Casilla
RHP Yusmeiro Petit
RHP Liam Hendriks
RHP Ryan Dull
LHP Daniel Coulombe

STRENGTH
There's uncertainty surrounding the reliability of Oakland's rotation, amplifying the importance of a strong relief corps, particularly when it comes to length. The A's have that in several arms, starting with Petit, who can excel in any role thrown his way. Pagan is also capable of throwing multiple innings in a game, with others, like Dull and Hendriks, able to do the same on occasion.

Video: TOR@SEA: Pagan tosses four shutout innings in relief

This attribute also speaks to this group's versatility. When not providing length, Petit, Pagan and others also have the ability to pitch behind Treinen, giving manager Bob Melvin a handful of setup options at his disposal on any given day.

QUESTION MARK
Melvin would prefer to stick with seven relievers, which could lead to difficult decisions at the end of camp. Who stays and who goes? Casilla, though guaranteed $6 million this year, could potentially be on the bubble. Same for Hendriks. Both pitchers struggled last year, and the A's may be forced to cut ties with one of them depending on how things shake out.

Video: HOU@OAK: Casilla coaxes DP to secure the win

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Adding another left-hander to the mix remains a priority for the A's, who seem more inclined to do so via the open market. Available options include Tony Watson, Brian Duensing and Oliver Perez. Should they make a move before the regular season opens, yet another right-handed candidate would subsequently be pushed out.

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

Oakland Athletics