Athletics

Grading the Oakland A's offseason with spring training fully underway

Grading the Oakland A's offseason with spring training fully underway

With spring training now in full swing, MLB's offseason has officially come to an end.

Of course, that doesn't mean teams are done wheeling and dealing. Some of the top names in the game (hello Bryce Harper and Manny Machado!) are still available on the free agent market.

From an A's perspective, the roster is at least close to complete, with the possible addition of one more starting pitcher. With that in mind, we attempt to grade Oakland's offseason.

Starting pitching

Additions: Marco Estrada, Parker Bridwell
Departures: Trevor Cahill, Kendall Graveman
Unsigned: Edwin Jackson

The A's identified starting pitching as their top priority this offseason. Unfortunately, they have not yet improved their rotation.

Oakland signed veteran right-hander Marco Estrada and claimed Parker Bridwell off waivers from the Angels, while losing Trevor Cahill, Kendall Graveman, and possibly Edwin Jackson, who remains unsigned.

The A's are counting on Estrada to be a top-end starter, despite coming off back-to-back subpar years in Toronto. While a bounce-back season is possible, it is far from a sure thing.

Oakland did re-sign Mike Fiers and Brett Anderson, and top prospect Jesús Luzardo will almost certainly earn a call-up at some point. The A's should also get injured pitchers Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and A.J. Puk back for the second half of the season.

Oakland would be wise to bring back Edwin Jackson or sign another reliable starter in that mold. As it currently stands, the A's rotation might be worse than it was last season.

Grade: D+ (Incomplete)

Bullpen

Additions: Joakim Soria, Jerry Blevins, Tanner Anderson
Departures: Jeurys Familia, Shawn Kelley, Cory Gearrin, Emilio Pagan

The A's relied heavily on their bullpen last year and it came through in a big way. With the return of All-Star closer Blake Treinen, along with several key setup relievers, Oakland's pen should once again be a strength of the team.

While the departures of Jeurys Familia and Shawn Kelley will hurt, adding Joakim Soria and Jerry Blevins should help negate those losses. The A's also return Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, Ryan Buchter, and Fernando Rodney, among others.

The decision to pick up Rodney's $5.25 million option remains a bit puzzling, especially with Kelley available for significantly less money. Nevertheless, Oakland's bullpen should once again rank near the top of the league.

Grade: B

Infield

Additions: Jurickson Profar, Chris Herrmann, Nick Hundley
Departures: Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy

The A's lost a lot of veteran leadership, not to mention production, in Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy. Oakland hopes that Jurickson Profar, Chris Herrmann, and Nick Hundley will help fill that void.

Lowrie amassed 23 home runs and 99 RBI last season, both career highs, with a .267/.353/.448 slash line. He was rewarded with a two-year, $20 million contract with the Mets.

Profar is also coming off a career year, batting .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers and 77 RBI with the Rangers. The A's believe the 25-year-old will build on that success this season.

While Lucroy's offensive numbers weren't great last year, he did a masterful job with Oakland's pitching staff. Herrmann, Hundley, and Josh Phegley will try to replicate that success behind the plate. Still, the A's appear to have taken a slight step back on the infield.

Grade: C+

Outfield

Additions: Robbie Grossman
Departures: Matt Joyce

The A's weren't busy in the outfield this offseason and they didn't need to be. Oakland returns everyone from last year, except for Matt Joyce, who was not a factor anyway.

The addition of Robbie Grossman adds even more depth to an already strong outfield. Grossman slashed .273/.367/.384 last season with the Twins and has a career on-base percentage of .355.

If anything, the A's might have too much outfield depth, if that's even possible. Oakland will have six players -- Grossman, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Dustin Fowler, and Franklin Barreto -- vying for playing time in left field. Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano will handle right and center.

Grade: B+

Designated hitter

Additions: None
Departures: None

The A's have arguably the best DH in baseball and they made sure to bring him back. Oakland signed 31-year-old Khris Davis to a one-year deal worth $16.5 million, the highest single-season salary they have ever paid a player.

The only reason for the A- grade here is that Oakland didn't lock Davis up on a long-term deal, though that still remains a possibility.

Grade: A-

[RELATED: Davis explains why he wants multi-year deal with A's]

Summary

Overall, the A's roster got worse this offseason, at least on paper. That doesn't mean the team can't replicate last season's success, but it will have to do so with some new faces.

Losing Lowrie, Lucroy, and possibly Jackson could take a toll on the incredible chemistry the squad developed last year. Most importantly, Oakland has not yet adequately addressed their starting pitching concerns.

The A's managed to get by with a subpar starting rotation last season. It looks like they may have to do it again this year.

Grade: C

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

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AP

A's gain hope as City of Oakland drops lawsuit against Alameda County

There's still a long way to go, but the A's are one step closer to getting a new stadium built in Oakland.

On Wednesday, the Oakland City Council directed the City Attorney to immediately drop Oakland's lawsuit against Alameda County, paving the way for the sale of the Coliseum.

"We are pleased that the Oakland City Council has directed the City Attorney to immediately drop this lawsuit," A's President Dave Kaval said in a team statement. "We are committed to the long-term success of East Oakland and the Coliseum site. We look forward to finalizing our agreement with Alameda County, and creating a mutually beneficial partnership with the City of Oakland."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred previously had warned Oakland officials in October to drop the lawsuit for fear of losing the team to relocation.

With the lawsuit dropped, the City of Oakland and the A's can move forward on the sale of the Coliseum land, on which the A's intend to develop housing, shops, restaurants and a park that will help fund the Howard Terminal site.

A's pitcher Mike Fiers reveals Astros would steal signs electronically

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AP

A's pitcher Mike Fiers reveals Astros would steal signs electronically

The AL powerhouse Houston Astros have long been suspected of stealing signs, but new information came to light Tuesday.

In a feature from The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich reported that the Astros used a camera in center field during their 2017 World Series run to help steal signs electronically.

Yankees star Aaron Judge summed up the report succinctly.

A's pitcher Mike Fiers was on that Astros team, and earned a World Series ring of his own. Now with Oakland, he not only confirmed the setup of technology but also commented on how it was affecting the game. 

“I don’t know if we really had any hard proof, but I’m sure there was (some evidence of other teams’ conduct),” Fiers told The Athletic. “Going into the playoffs, we had veterans like Brian McCann -- we went straight to multiple signs (with our pitchers). We weren’t going to mess around. We were sure there were teams out there that were trying certain things to get an edge and win ballgames. I wouldn’t say there was hard evidence. But it’s hard to catch teams at home. There are so many things you can use to win at home.”

Fiers then added how there were some players who didn't like it, as they would prefer not to know what was coming. But clearly, there were guys that benefitted as well.

“I just want the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing,” Fiers said. 

After the story was released, the Astros released the following statement:

A former player told NBC Sports California on Tuesday most teams participate in stealing signs in some fashion, but the Astros flirt with the line of what is legal and what is not.

"The Astros are super talented," the player said. "But ... they will do whatever they need to do to get an edge."

[RELATED: Daniel Hudson potential trade target for A's]

"In my honest opinion, they got beat by their old bench coach Alex Cora," he continued. "He knew all the Astros secrets, weaknesses, everything. Then, this year it seemed like the Astros only hit well when pitchers were tipping pitches. It happened with [Stephen] Strasburg the first two innings of Game 6. He cleaned it up in between innings and Houston couldn't hit him."

"Teams steal signs, it's been happening for years," the former player added. "Astros take it to another level."

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