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A’s Offseason Review and Spring Training Guide

Another offseason of trades and losses means a new fresh slate of A’s prospects as Spring Training comes with more questions than answers.

Much like the 2022 A’s, the big question for Oakland Athletics fans going into Spring Training is more about the team’s stadium future and the long term than about the current product on the field. While the focus will likely remain the same for most fans, the team made several acquisitions over the offseason that should at least begin to draw eyes to the on-field product. 

Coming off only their second 100-loss season in the team’s history in Oakland, the team may have just hit rock bottom. Last offseason saw a true roster overhaul. While the overhaul continued this offseason, the team managed to acquire more young talent to make their farm system relevant again. In addition, they acquired some potentially undervalued veterans poised for breakout seasons. Here is a look at where the A’s roster stands with Spring Training just around the corner. 

Key Additions:

Jesus Aguilar 1B (One year $3 million): Following a pair of solid seasons in 2018 and 2021 with the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins, the 32-year-old slugger took several steps back in 2022. In the campaign he slashed .235/.281/.379, ending the season on a minimum-salary contract with the Baltimore Orioles. Oakland could prove to be the place for him to turn his career around. As a result of his rough season, his value diminished. The A’s were able to sign him for over $4 million less than the Marlins signed him for in the 2022 offseason when they avoided arbitration. 

The team certainly has an opening for his services. The only other true option the team has at first base is top prospect Tyler Soderstrom, who likely still needs some time in the minors to develop. They also have Jordan Diaz and Dermis Garcia but neither has proven themselves as worthy of a starting position. Look for Aguilar to be a middle-of-the-order A’s lineup hitter, the one the team will depend on to provide run production, something the team especially lacked last season. They were second-to-last in the league with 537 RBIs as a team.

Shintaro Fujinami (RHP): In a previous report focused on the A’s top international acquisitions, I explored the potential that Fujinami could bring to the rotation if he works on his command. The same remains true, but what I did not mention was floating the idea of him being a middle inning reliever if he loses out on the starting role. The A’s do have several proven names in their bullpen and some pitching depth among prospects. But if Fujinami struggles in the rotation the team could also use him as a big innings-eater for middle of the bullpen duties, as teams have done with struggling starters in the past. The increased reliance on innings from bullpens for teams makes Fujinami look like a viable option for this role. But for now, the main hope is that he can break out in one way or another with his flame throwing potential. 

The rest of these acquisitions were recently covered in an article written a couple of weeks back:

Aledmys Diaz (SS, 3B, 2B)

Trevor May (RHP)

Kyle Muller (LHP)

Jace Peterson (2B, 3B OF)

Manny Pina (C)

Drew Rucinski (RHP)

Esteury Ruiz (OF)

Royber Salinas (RHP)

Freddy Tarnock (RHP)

Key Departures:

Cole Irvin (LHP)

Sean Murphy (C)

Stephen Vogt (DH)

Chad Pinder (UTILITYMAN)

Spring Training Guide

Look For Stiff Competition For Pitching Rotation Spots

The A’s recently traded away starter Cole Irvin, who had been a staple in their rotation over the last two seasons. As a result, the spots in the rotation opened up even more than they already had.

The A’s avoided arbitration over the offseason with All-Star right hander Paul Blackburn. Despite a rough late batch of games prior to his finger injury in July, the 29-year-old should be ready to go in the rotation. James Kaprielian battled a shoulder injury which he received surgery for over the offseason, but his experience with the team makes him a strong candidate for that second spot. The aforementioned Fujinami is the third likely lock in the rotation while the fourth and fifth spots will be up for grabs among young pitching arms. 

Should the A’s choose to go the professional experience route, they have righty Drew Rucinski to turn to. Rucinski has pitched in the major leagues in four different seasons and was an innings eater the past four years as a member of the Korean Baseball Organization’s NC Dinos. 

Other possibilities to fill the rotation spots include highly touted southpaw Kyle Muller, 26-year-old JP Sears who put up promising numbers through 11 starts with the New York Yankees and A’s last season, Freddy Tarnok, and most notably top pitching prospect Ken Waldichuk. Waldichuk was acquired from the Yankees in the Frankie Montas deal. After an impressive minor league career, he saw mixed results pitching late in the season for the A’s. However, he had one impressive outing where he struck out eight batters through five innings of work against a strong Seattle Mariners team.

Pitchers Adam Oller and Adrian Martinez also have experience starting games at the big league level and could compete for spots.

Could This be the Opportunity for Veteran Career Turnarounds?

Along with the potential stars of tomorrow, the team took in a few veterans in Aledmys Diaz, Jace Peterson, Trevor May, Jesus Aguilar and Manny Pina. Assuming they stay healthy, these proven veterans should expect more of an everyday role this coming season.

In fact, Peterson and Diaz are both coming from situations where they were used as utility players off the bench. If there is anywhere for Peterson to get the chance to display his on base ability and speed as well as for Diaz to display any hitting abilities, it is here in Oakland.

May and Aguilar both will look to return to their old forms while Pina could be instrumental in the development of the pitching staff and the young catchers within the organization. 

Who Else is on This Team Apart From the Acquisitions?

The team is at the point where even the most dedicated fans are stumped from naming a few players. This is not uncharted territory, however. The A’s have found themselves in this rebuilding phase time and time again. They have gotten out of it, most of the time quicker than anticipated. This is thanks to a front office with keen eyes for hidden talent. Despite some of the hopeful names, fans can only pray for another one of those miraculous breakouts among more than a handful of players. They will need this in order to make any noise over the course of the season.

The team carries some promising bullpen arms, with the likes of A.J. Puk, Domingo Acevedo and Dany Jimenez. While they had few positives going for them offensively last season, they do still have Seth Brown (116 OPS+) last season and yes, they still have Ramon Lauereano. Laureano has displayed capabilities as a slugger and speedster while posting a stellar outfield arm. Then there’s also Tony Kemp who has the chance to bounce back to a strong 2021 at the plate.

Spring Training is just around the corner. This could be the team’s first chance to begin to change the current negative narratives surrounding the franchise. With that in mind, here is the current projected Opening Day lineup:

Starting Lineup and Bench

  1. Catcher: Shea Langeliers
  2. First Base: Jesus Aguilar
  3. Second Base: Tony Kemp
  4. Shortstop: Nick Allen
  5. Third Base: Jace Peterson
  6. Left Field: Seth Brown
  7. Center Field: Esteury Ruiz
  8. Right Field: Ramon Laureano
  9. Designated Hitter: Aledmys Diaz

Bench: Manny Pina, Jonah Bride, Christian Pache, Darling Fernandez

Starting Rotation

  1. Paul Blackburn 
  2. James Kaprielian
  3. Shintaro Fujinami
  4. Drew Rucinski 
  5. Kyle Muller


  1. Trevor May
  2. A.J. Puk
  3. Domingo Acevedo
  4. Dany Jimenez
  5. Luis Morales
  6. Ken Waldichuk
  7. JP Sears
  8. Freddy Tarnok

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