The A's starting rotation had suffered so many injuries by the end of last season that just four healthy starters remained: Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson.
As of right now, none of them are on the A's 40-man roster for next year.
Jackson, Cahill and Anderson are free agents, and Fiers joined them in that category when the A's non-tendered him last week. You might be wondering how in the world the A's will construct a starting rotation for next season. It's a fair question.
Let's break down the options:
Healthy starters on 40-man roster
*--Blackburn is recovering from an elbow injury, but he's expected to be ready for spring training
Injured starters on 40-man roster
Puk and Cotton both are recovering from Tommy John surgery and should be able to return sometime after June. Gossett had his Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the entire season.
Manaea underwent shoulder surgery that likely will keep him out for most, if not all, of the season. Triggs had thoracic outlet surgery in September, and his status for next year is unknown.
The A's currently have just five starting pitchers to begin next season, and all five face major questions.
Luzardo is Oakland's top prospect, but he has yet to throw a major league pitch. Mengden and Montas have been wildly inconsistent in their limited experience. Blackburn has made just 16 starts in his young career and is coming off a season-ending injury. And Bassitt really is more of a long reliever than a starter.
A's general manager David Forst has said he believes a team must enter a season with at least 10 starting pitchers because of inevitable injuries throughout the year. That would mean Oakland needs to sign or trade for five more starters this offseason.
The A's likely will try to re-sign Jackson, Cahill and Anderson to get to eight starters. They reportedly have discussed reacquiring Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees, though MLB Trade Rumors projects the right-hander to earn $9.1 million in arbitration, which might be too right for a budget-minded team. We've previously identified a handful of other free-agent starters the A's could consider, a list that now also might include Shelby Miller and Matt Shoemaker.
With the Winter Meetings next week in Las Vegas, the free agent dominoes should begin to fall shortly. And while we don't know for sure which pitchers the A's will target, we do know they will be active.