A’s general manager David Forst had a good idea which 30 players would comprise his Opening Day roster before training camp even started. Such is life for a legitimate World Series contender. Established players take up most spots. There’s so much quality depth that reserves were also roster locks.
If we’re being honest about how we thought this roster would look in early July, there are a few surprises. Jordan Weems is the biggest, earning a spot in a massive bullpen to start the year.
The A’s kept left-handed power hitter Seth Brown over a third catcher, which makes sense considering the three-man taxi squad will include another backstop.
A.J. Puk starting on the injured list obviously was unexpected, but it allowed Daniel Mengden to return to the active roster with an easy swap.
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Here’s the Opening Day roster for the A's, who start playing games that count Friday against the Los Angeles Angels. Don’t forget that the roster max will shrink to 28 in a few weeks and 26 a few weeks after that. Right now, the A’s have a deep pitching staff and plenty of offensive firepower at their disposal to navigate this 60-game baseball season. Let’s take a look at who they’ve got:
C Sean Murphy
C Austin Allen
1B Matt Olson
2B Franklin Barreto
2B Tony Kemp
2B/SS Vimael Machin
SS Marcus Semien
3B Matt Chapman
UTIL Chad Pinder
Murphy, Olson, Semien and Chapman will be fixtures in the starting lineup and comprise most of an excellent defensive infield. All four guys have power and offensive prowess as well. The A’s will use several at second base, with options from the left and right side of the plate. Chad Pinder has been red hot lately and could see lots of action against left-handed pitchers. Tomy Kemp is the first option against righties, though Barreto will fit into this equation as well.
The A’s have solid depth in the outfield, especially with Pinder and Kemp able to play on the dirt as well. Piscotty has had an excellent training camp. Canha’s coming off a career year with free agency looming, so he’ll be motivated to continue his 2019 offensive surge. Laureano will play most every day. Grossman’s an excellent fourth outfielder, and Brown provides some left-handed pop that is required in a generally right-handed heavy lineup. Brown and Canha also can spell Olson at first base if required. Davis will be the designated hitter and might not see the field over 60 games.
This isn’t the fearsome rotation many expected to start the year. Puk’s on the injured list indefinitely and Jesus Luzardo isn’t quite ready to join the group after missing two weeks in quarantine. Bassitt has been solid the last two times out and Montas is the clear-cut ace. Fiers and Manaea need to be solid out of the gate, meaning firm command is required considering they won’t light up the radar gun.
Liam Hendriks (closer)
The A’s have several long relievers in this group to aid starters who aren’t fully stretched out yet. Petit, Smith, Wendelken and McFarland are all capable of throwing two and three innings of middle relief if required. Hendriks is the closer, with Trivino, Soria and Diekman available in the later innings. It will be interesting to see where Weems fits into the equation.
Taxi squad (3)
C Jonah Heim
LHP Lucas Lutege
INF Nathan Orf
The A’s will have three people not on the 30-man roster travel with them in case they’re needed in a pinch. They’ll work out at the A’s alternate site in San Jose with a larger player pool available should the big club need it. That’s vital with minor league baseball cancelled for 2020. The A’s keep a third young catcher available to them with a versatile infielder and a left-hander who had a strong training camp over the past three weeks.