Athletics

A's 2019 roster projection: Oakland still has tough decisions to make

lowrie2019usatsi.jpg
USATSI

A's 2019 roster projection: Oakland still has tough decisions to make

Piece by piece, the A's 2019 roster is slowly starting to come together. But with the Winter Meetings approaching, Oakland still has work to do.

The priority will be adding starting pitching, either through free agency or trade. The A's also need a starting catcher, whether it's last year's starter Jonathan Lucroy or someone new.

Another big question is, does Oakland re-sign All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie? With 22-year-old Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings, the A's might elect to move on without Lowrie.

While it's admittedly a bit premature, we take our best crack at projecting Oakland's 25-man roster to start next season.

Lineup

Nick Martini - LF
Ramón Laureano - CF
Matt Chapman - 3B
Khris Davis - DH
Matt Olson - 1B
Stephen Piscotty - RF
Marcus Semien - SS
Franklin Barreto - 2B
Jonathan Lucroy - C

--- We believe the A's will end up re-signing Lucroy, but not Lowrie. Spotrac now lists Lowrie's market value at $16.6 million, a steep price to pay for a 34-year-old. If that's the case, Barreto will get his chance as the starting second baseman.

Bench

Josh Phegley - C
Dustin Fowler - OF
Chad Pinder - Util
Mark Canha - Util

--- Pinder can play just about any position and should see plenty of time in the lineup. Canha can play any outfield spot, as well as first base, and crushes left-handed pitching. Phegley and Fowler will also likely play more than last season.

Starting Rotation

Edwin Jackson - RHP
Clay Buchholz - RHP
Jesús Luzardo - LHP
Daniel Mengden - RHP
Frankie Montas - RHP

--- Here's where it gets interesting. The A's could go several different directions when it comes to adding starting pitchers, both through free agency and trade. We'll predict Oakland signs Jackson and Buchholz, while youngsters Luzardo, Mengden, and Montas round out the rotation.

--- The A's will also have depth options in Paul Blackburn and Chris Bassitt, and should get injured pitchers A.J. Puk and Jharel Cotton back midway through the season. Unfortunately, Sean Manaea and Daniel Gossett will likely miss the entire year.

--- Of course, Oakland could also choose to re-sign Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, or possibly acquire an established starter like Sonny Gray or Robbie Ray. We should have a better idea after the Winter Meetings.

Bullpen

Blake Treinen - RHP
Lou Trivino - RHP
J.B. Wendelken - RHP
Fernando Rodney - RHP
Ryan Buchter - LHP
Yusmeiro Petit - RHP
Liam Hendriks - RHP

--- With an already deep bullpen, we don't see the A's re-signing veteran right-hander Shawn Kelley. Oakland should also have right-handers Ryan Dull, Emilio Pagan, and Aaron Brooks on the 40-man roster.
 

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

The A's are at the MLB Winter Meetings with eyes on providing manager Bob Melvin with even more options to fill out his lineup, but it's not as if he doesn't have plenty to choose from already.

Whether it's the starting rotation, the infield or the outfield, Oakland possesses great depth at many positions, and a lot of that depth is young.

Both Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk made their long-awaited debuts for the A's last season, and Melvin told NBC Sports California that both are expected to be in the starting rotation when the season commences. Just how many players are a member of that rotation remains to be seen, however.

"I think anything is possible for us," Melvin said of the rotation. "We like to get a little bit creative. I think ideally guys like to be in a five-man rotation, it allows them to prepare. But whether it's the piggybacking-type thing, whether it's a six-man rotation for a period of time ... anything creative I think we would potentially look at, but I think as we go into the season right now, we'd probably look at a five-man rotation to start."

One would imagine that both Sean Manaea and Mike Fiers have been earmarked for two more spots in the starting rotation, as might Frankie Montas. Melvin also mentioned players like Chris Bassitt, Daulton Jeffries and James Kaprielian as additional pitching options.

That depth extends to the infield, as well. The A's were so confident in their second-base options that they felt comfortable trading Jurickson Profar to the Padres. Between Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse and even Chad Pinder, Oakland has several bodies to consider pairing with shortstop Marcus Semien in the middle of the infield. The trouble is, each of them bats right-handed, as does the vast majority of the A's current lineup. That doesn't seem to concern Melvin too much, though.

"I think we're always looking potentially for another left-handed bat in a little bit of a right-handed dominant lineup," Melvin explained, "but we're comfortable with the guys we have right now and we feel like we have multiple options."

The A's manager went on to admit that, in a perfect world, Oakland would be able to add a few left-handers, particularly considering the abundance of dominant right-handed starters in the AL West. The Angels reportedly are pursuing Gerrit Cole, and he could be the best of the bunch. The A's are aware of what their competitors are doing at the Winter Meetings, but they have reason to be confident.

[RELATED: Why Yankees offering Cole $245M is good for Giants, A's]

"We keep an eye on the teams in our division," Melvin said. "We keep our eyes on every team in the league, but at the end of the day, it's about what we can do to enhance our club and make our club better. You're talking about a club that's won 97 games two years in a row, so we feel pretty good about where we're at."

The A's already possess a deep roster, but perhaps with an addition or two, a deep playoff run could be in store.

A's Billy Beane reveals he has Kyler Murray on his fantasy football team

beanemurrayap.jpg
AP

A's Billy Beane reveals he has Kyler Murray on his fantasy football team

SAN DIEGO -- Kyler Murray still has a fan in Billy Beane.

After Murray spurned a potential MLB career with the A’s to play quarterback in the NFL, Beane admits that he still holds a fondness for his former prospect and enjoys watching the now-Arizona Cardinals QB play football. 

“I love it, I text him -- he’s on my fantasy team,” Beane said at the MLB Winter Meetings on Monday night. “I texted him, I said ‘I gotcha again.’ He texted me back and just gave a big heart.

“He’s a great kid.”

Beane, the A’s executive vice president of baseball operations, was paramount in Oakland selecting Murray with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, believing dual-sport athlete would thrive as a speedy outfielder at the big league level. The A’s signed Murray to a contract with a $4.66 million signing bonus, which also allowed him to continue playing football that fall at Oklahoma.

But Kyler put on a show for the Sooners on the gridiron and never looked back. Murray won the 2018 Heisman Trophy, throwing for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns and running for another 1,001 yards with 12 scores.

After months of speculation about whether he would declare for the NFL draft or continue his commitment with the A’s, Murray decided on Feb. 11 that he would focus entirely on his football career, forgoing baseball.

[RELATED: How Forst thinks state of free-agent market will affect A's]

The Cardinals took Murray with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, making him the first player in history to be drafted in the first round of both the MLB and the NFL drafts.

Murray has had a strong rookie campaign for Arizona, throwing for 3,060 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 448 yards and four more TDs on the ground.

So with those solid numbers, here’s the question we all want to know: How is Beane’s fantasy team doing this season?

“First time not making the playoffs,” Beane said with a laugh.