With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com is taking a look at a different aspect of this year's Athletics squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.
It's no easy task in some instances, considering numerous players will be in a battle for the final few spots:
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Catcher (2):Bruce Maxwell, Josh Phegley
The A's will employ a platoon system behind the plate with Maxwell and Phegley. Dustin Garneau is also on the 40-man roster and could land a job with the team should things not work out with Maxwell, who is expected to reach a plea deal and avoid a trial for his October arrest on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct.
First base (1):Matt Olson
Budding star Olson will man first base on Opening Day. The A's 2012 first-round Draft pick went bonkers at the plate during his 2017 rookie campaign, smashing 24 home runs in just 59 games.
Second base (1):Jed Lowrie
Lowrie returns for his 11th big league season and third consecutive as the A's second baseman. The organization's top position prospect, Franklin Barreto, is expected to wait his turn at Triple-A Nashville.
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Third base (1):Matt Chapman
Defensive whiz Chapman, who made his highly anticipated debut last June, will be embarking on his first full big league season. Already, he's considered a Gold Glove candidate at the hot corner.
Shortstop (1):Marcus Semien
After right wrist surgery limited him to 85 games in 2017, Semien looks to stay healthy and deliver a double dose of power and speed from the top of the lineup while continuing to improve on defense at shortstop.
Designated hitter (1):Khris Davis
Davis has spent the bulk of his five-year career in left field, but the A's slugger will be asked to DH most days this year following the offseason trade of Ryon Healy to Seattle. He's seeking his third consecutive 40-plus-homer season.
Utility (1):Chad Pinder
Pinder is the A's do-it-all man, becoming the first rookie in Oakland history to start at least one game at six different positions in 2017. He'll likely platoon with Matt Joyce in left field and spell the middle infielders on occasion.
Outfield (5): Joyce, Stephen Piscotty, Dustin Fowler, Boog Powell, Renato Nunez
Joyce will shift to left field now that offseason acquisition Piscotty is stationed in right. Fowler is the favorite to land the center-field job, and the speedy Powell seemingly has a leg up on his competition for the backup spot. There could be room for one more, should the A's stick with a seven-man bullpen, and chances are the A's give that opportunity to Nunez, who is out of options. Mark Canha and Jake Smolinski will also fight for these jobs.
Rotation (5):Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, Daniel Mengden, Paul Blackburn
Beyond Graveman and Manaea, it gets murky. The final three spots could go to Cotton, Mengden and Blackburn, but there's also Daniel Gossett and Andrew Triggs to consider.
Bullpen (7):Blake Treinen, Chris Hatcher, Emilio Pagan, Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Buchter, Daniel Coulombe, Liam Hendriks
Behind closer Treinen is a slew of options. Right-handers Hatcher, Pagan and Petit are considered locks, as are lefties Buchter and Coulombe. That leaves room for just one other reliever from a group that includes right-handers Hendriks, Ryan Dull and Santiago Casilla -- leaving open the possibility of an eight-man bullpen. But if the A's employ only seven, Hendriks would likely emerge from that trio.