By the end of the 2018 season, the A's starting rotation consisted of four guys who weren't even on the team at the beginning of the year.
A barrage of season-ending injuries left Oakland in a deep hole for the American League Wild Card Game, resulting in a full bullpen game for the most important game of the season. Executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane wants to make sure that doesn't happen again.
"I think one of the things we have to address is the starting pitching," Beane said Monday. "We need to create a starting pitching group that Bob (Melvin) can rely on every day."
Unfortunately for the A's, the injury problems will continue into 2019, with starters Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Kendall Graveman, and Daniel Gossett, and possibly others, all due to miss at least part of the season.
Oakland also has decisions to make on Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson, all of whom are either free agents or eligible for arbitration. Even if the A's bring all four veteran starters back, they will likely need to add at least one more arm in free agency.
"It's probably going to be necessary to bring in somebody from the outside, just from a depth standpoint," Beane said. "You can't assume you're going to have five guys and they're going to pitch all year. Part of the strategy of putting together a team is creating depth. ... We're definitely going to have to look outside in some capacity."
General manager David Forst echoed those sentiments, telling NBC Sports California he believes it's necessary for a team to have 10 starting pitchers for depth purposes.
Oakland should get a boost from young arms like Jesús Luzardo, Frankie Montas, and Daniel Mengden. But with Puk and Cotton still recovering from Tommy John surgery, reinforcements will be necessary.
Beane and Forst steered clear of discussing any specific free agents, though there are several affordable options available. The A's could also surprise the baseball world and make a run at a top flight starter like Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel.
Either way, A's fans should take great comfort in knowing Beane has identified starting pitching as a top priority in free agency.