Inbox: What are the A's plans at shortstop in '15?
Beat reporter Jane Lee answers questions from fans
Who do you think we'll see in the middle infield at the start of next season? Is Daniel Robertson a midseason callup?
Robertson, still just 20, hasn't played above the Class A Advanced level and isn't considered a possibility until 2016. The A's, understandably not wanting to rush Robertson, will have to navigate their way through 2015 with a different shortstop, and his name likely won't be Jed Lowrie. The veteran has not ruled out a return to Oakland, but he'll get plenty of multiyear offers, something the A's probably aren't willing to commit to with Robertson waiting in the wings.
Lowrie's replacement will surely come from the outside, and the A's could opt to explore second-base upgrades, too, though it wouldn't surprise me if they began the season with Eric Sogard and Nick Punto splitting duties at the position again because of an underwhelming group of free agents. Because of this thin market, even trade candidates like Ben Zobrist and Howie Kendrick will be hard to come by.
What's more likely to happen, trading for a shortstop or signing a free agent?
Trading for one seems more probable, since the A's aren't going to be publicizing the type of multiyear deals that appeal to the majority of the free-agent crop. There are exceptions, though, and Stephen Drew could be had for a year if there was mutual interest in a short-term reunion, with Drew potentially willing to accept a relatively small contract in an attempt to reestablish his value.
But the A's won't be his only suitors, so their best avenue for a new shortstop -- assuming Lowrie goes elsewhere -- is probably via trade. The D-backs and Cubs are stocked with middle infielders, and perhaps Jimmy Rollins becomes available, or Alexei Ramirez.
Do you see the A's trading for a right-handed power bat?
Only if they are willing to give up a Jeff Samardzija or Scott Kazmir. It's not out of the question, but such a commodity would also have to net them prospects in a deal to add to a waning Minor League system. Moreover, Samardzija and Kazmir's trade value will be impacted by the market, and there are plenty of available starters roaming around, so I don't see the A's rushing to sell these parts.
Should they make a move for a right-handed bat, which they've been missing since Yoenis Cespedes' departure, don't be surprised if it's an aging one at a minimal cost. The A's have long made a habit out of collecting proven, veteran bats that happen to be affordable. A short list of possibilities might include ex-Athletic Josh Willingham and Torii Hunter, though both have contemplated retirement.
How do you expect the A's to handle John Jaso, Stephen Vogt and Brandon Moss between catcher, first base, designated hitter and left field?
Vogt will be back behind the plate in 2015 after undergoing offseason foot surgery. Jaso could be, too, if he elects to catch again after suffering yet another season-ending concussion, though he's probably best utilized in a platoon as a designated hitter. Moss, meanwhile, is expected to see the bulk of his playing time at first base again.
The A's won't be looking for starting pitching considering they'll have Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Sonny Gray, Kazmir and Samardzija for the upcoming season, right?
The A's are always on the hunt for any kind of pitching. And, remember, Parker and Griffin aren't expected to be ready to rejoin the rotation until midseason, leaving two vacant starting spots. The club has a handful of internal candidates, including Drew Pomeranz and Jesse Chavez, but it will no doubt be looking to beef up its depth here.