Athletics

A's infielders Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien aim to be top duo in 2020

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A's infielders Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien aim to be top duo in 2020

The A's infield -- while we wait for the final determinant as to who the second base starter will be -- as of now looks unstoppable.

The left side particularly could create some fear in 2020 with Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien holding down the fort. But beyond the gloves, they're overall the top duo in the game.

In 2019, they combined to hold the top WAR in a group of top teammates across the league.

A 14.8 WAR between Chapman and Semien last season placed them just barely above Dodgers' Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy (14.7) and Alex Bregman and George Springer (14.6).

Next season, the Los Angeles Angels will have both Mike Trout and newly acquired third baseman Anthony Rendon to create some buzz -- and hopefully, take some of the workload off Trout. 

That's not only quite the group to be paired with, but to be atop them all is impressive, to say the least.

In addition to his Gold and Platinum Glove honors, Chappy earned his first All-Star selection in 2019 and was in MVP talks. He finished his 2019 campaign batting .249/.342/.506 line with 36 home runs and 91 RBI.

Chapman stood out with his web-gem defensive ways and the ability to cover all of the foul territory the Oakland Coliseum has to offer.

Those MVP talks were there with Semien as well, but perhaps they were a little louder about the A's shortstop. He landed in third place for the AL MVP Award behind Trout and Bregman.

Semien started in all 162 games with a league-leading 747 plate appearances and a .285/.369/.522 line with 33 home runs and 187 hits. 

[RELATED: Beane conflicted over proposed roster rule changes]

You know what they say -- all is fair in love and WAR.

Nobody says that -- I've just always wanted to write that in an article.

MLB rumors: Russell Martin draws free-agent interest from A’s, others

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MLB rumors: Russell Martin draws free-agent interest from A’s, others

The A's are searching high and low for a veteran catcher.

Oakland struck on in their pursuit of Matt Wieters, and now they've reportedly turned their attention to Russell Martin.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the A's are among several teams that have "checked in on" the veteran catcher.

Martin, 37, spent the 2019 season with the Dodgers, his original organization. In 83 games, he slashed .200/.337/.330 with five doubles, six homers and 20 RBI.

The A's have three catchers on the 40-man roster -- Sean Murphy, Austin Allen and Jonah Heim -- and all three of them are rookies.

Murphy is expected to the opening day starter and will get a majority of the playing time. But it still makes sense for the A's to sign a veteran catcher to mentor the prized prospect.

[RELATED: A's have plenty of outfield options]

As Heyman points out, Martin is not ready to sign with a team right now. But when he is, the A's should make a strong push to add him to the roster.

A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

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A's have plenty of outfield options should Stephen Piscotty miss time

The A's will march through spring training without Stephen Piscotty, who was formally shut down Friday with an intercostal strain. Manager Bob Melvin said the veteran would be out indefinitely, though he didn’t rule out a return by Opening Day.

Piscotty starting that March 26 home game is far from certain, but him missing a few games to start the season isn’t a massive blow.

Why? The A's have tons of outfield depth.

Ramon Laureano and Mark Cahna would take up two spots, with Robbie Grossman able to fill in well and play consistently. He played 138 games for the A's last year and Oakland re-signed him in free agency. Chad Pinder can play every position and is comfortable working from the grass. Second baseman Tony Kemp has experience out there, too.

P.S. All those guys can field. All of those guys can hit.

Plan A obviously is having Piscotty play soon and play a ton. He’s a quality all-around player and valued clubhouse presence. There are plenty of alternatives.

“[The outfield] looked really crowded, and that’s a good problem to have,” Melvin told reporters on Friday, via MLB.com. “But the more you do this, the more you realize how important depth is. Not only with pitching, but with position players. It’s very rare now that you get through spring training healthy.

"Things have changed a bit in how you deal with spring training. It’s about getting off the field healthy. We do have some depth there.”

[RELATED: Why Melvin is confident Khrush will bounce back this season]

That will allow the A’s to be patient with a regular starter. They can let him get fully healed and ramp up accordingly, into the regular season if necessary. If he starts on the injured list -- that’s a massive “if” at this stage -- it could open a roster spot for an outfield prospect.

At the very least it means more spring training at-bats for promising players in major league camp like Seth Brown, who has some power, or Dustin Fowler, who's trying to reclaim an MLB gig. Skye Bolt is another option.

The A’s could choose to replace Piscotty with another outfielder in a straight position swap, or they could evaluate prospects from other positions considering how much outfield depth already is set to make the club.