Athletics

Athletics

Right at the beginning of this offseason, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane identified starting pitching as the club's top priority. General manager David Forst and manager Bob Melvin both echoed that sentiment.

So why has the team yet to add a single starting pitcher?

"I don't think there's a need to be knee-jerk right now because some of these guys will still be on the board till the end," Melvin said at the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings this week in Las Vegas. "Our guys have been pretty good about identifying the right fits here. So it doesn't look great right now as far as our rotation, but I think our guys have a pretty good handle on it."

Added Forst: "We have sort of targeted conversations, free agents and trades, and kind of go at our own pace. I don't know that any external forces are going to change that."

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The A's did meet with several agents at the winter meetings, and they remain interested in a handful of starters, including Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson from last year's squad.

But while some teams feel a sense of urgency to wheel and deal at the winter neetings, Oakland preferred to take a more cautious approach.

 

"There are certainly good things about being [at the winter meetings], but we also want to get out, look at what we've done in the light of day and make sure it's the right thing," Forst explained.

Said Beane: "Things don't always get done [at the winter meetings], but a lot of groundwork is laid and a lot of things happen right after."

That explanation might not satisfy fans, but the strategy has worked for Oakland in the past. Last year, the A's waited until March to sign Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson. They didn't add Edwin Jackson until June.

Even if other teams go out and spend big money on starting pitchers, Oakland won't let that affect its negotiations.

"We kind of set our price," Forst said. "We know what we can do within the confines of our payroll and try to stay on that."

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As for the current roster, the A's actually do already have five or six viable starters. Everyone in the organization agrees top prospect Jesús Luzardo is ready to pitch at the big-league level. Add Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt and Paul Blackburn, and you have a starting five.

The A's also recently acquired 25-year-old right-hander Tanner Anderson from the Pirates, and they expect him to compete for a rotation slot. 22-year-old righty Grant Holmes is another possibility.

Of course, some of Oakland's best pitchers are injured, though prospect A.J. Puk and Jharel Cotton should be able to return midway through the season.

"We feel really good about the depth we have," Melvin said. "Now, granted, a lot of these guys are hurt right now, and you never really know how you're going to respond. But there's a whole host of guys who are going to be back (between) spring training (and) the end of the year that we're really excited about."

That's not to say the A's will fail to add a few more starters to the mix, either through free agency or trade. It just might not happen as soon as fans would like.

But remember, it's a long offseason.