When will the A's promote Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman to the Majors? What are we saving by keeping them in the Minors if it's more than likely they're gone in three years?
-- Jaden D., Yuba City, Calif.
The A's have said they won't rush Barreto and Chapman, who are rated the club's Nos. 1 and 4 prospects, respectively, by MLBPipeline.com, until they're absolutely ready to join the big leagues permanently. But it's getting harder to ignore Barreto's performance at Triple-A Nashville while Oakland fights its way to .500, bringing heightened urgency to this question. In 42 games with the Sounds, Barreto is batting .313 with six homers and 27 RBIs. Still, my guess is July, at least for Barreto, and only when the A's have dealt impending free agent Jed Lowrie to a contending club.
Chapman, meanwhile, might not be far behind, but his bat has yet to catch up to his glove at the Triple-A level. If Trevor Plouffe is traded, Chapman could possibly be promoted before rosters expand in September.
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What's the latest with Marcus Semien? Any scheduled return date?
-- Janine S., Phoenix
The A's don't have an exact date circled on their calendar, but they're at least encouraged by his speedy progress. Semien, who underwent a procedure to repair a fracture of the scaphoid bone April 18. had his cast removed last week, which will allow him to begin exercises to strengthen his right arm and hand, as well as expand his baseball activity -- he was still taking grounders with his glove hand while his throwing hand was in a cast.
Semien is eager to return and hopeful of doing so when eligible June 14, but the end of that month may be more realistic, considering the time he'll need to go through a Minor League rehab assignment.
Do you see the A's being buyers or sellers at this year's non-waiver Trade Deadline? Could we be seeing the last of Sonny Gray?
-- Nick R., Ashland, Ore.
Barring some crazy crawl up the American League West standings, the A's are unlikely to be buyers this year. At best, they'll be hanging around the middle of the pack around the Trade Deadline, putting them in selling mode for a third consecutive summer.
Gray remains under club control for two more seasons, so Oakland could easily keep him, particularly if the club doesn't have a suitable offer in hand. The right-hander's value could be climbing again after strong showings, which would make for good timing for a deal, but I still don't sense any urgency here. My guess is the A's would have to be blown away by an offer to deal Gray; others who are facing free agency, not so much.
Lowrie would be the ultimate get for a contender eyeing infield help. The veteran looks better than ever, and though he's just adequate on defense, his bat will always play. Plouffe, too, could be on the move, while another infielder, the hot-hitting Yonder Alonso, will be a tough get.
Chad Pinder needs to be in the lineup every day. What position is best suited for him?
-- Brett K., Castro Valley, Calif.
Pinder is best in the middle infield, but there's obviously no room for him at either spot -- neither now, nor in the future, with Barreto ultimately supplanting Lowrie at second base, and Semien firmly entrenched at shortstop. So if we discount those positions and look elsewhere, right field appears to be the next best landing spot. We already know Pinder has a great arm, and continued play in the outfield will only help him thrive in the type of role the A's envision for him long-term, that of a super utility man.
The current roster configuration doesn't allow for this, of course, with Matt Joyce and Mark Canha occupying a platoon there. But if and when Oakland decides to let the kids play, experimenting with Pinder in right field seemingly has more upside than downside.
Will the monthly passes be brought back? It's a bummer they capped it at 2,000.
-- Joel L., San Jose, Calif.
It depends. If passholders opt out of their $19.99 monthly pass, subsequently opening up spots for other people, there's a chance the A's would put them back on the market. For now, though, they're most concerned with providing the utmost attention and service to those who do hold the pass, and they feel the current allotment is all they can handle at the time.