As the 2020 MLB trade deadline approaches next week, the A's must figure out if they need to address any concerns with their roster.
The eye test says the A's are pretty good. They entered Monday with the best record in the American League (20-9), and only the Los Angeles Dodgers have a better record in all of baseball.
But if you dig a little deeper, the A's starting rotation hasn't been as strong as they expected entering the season. Through the first 29 games, the A's starters posted a 4.83 ERA, the seventh best out of 15 AL teams.
So on Monday's edition of A's Pregame Live, host Brodie Brazil and analysts Dave Stewart and Dontrelle Willis discussed three starting pitchers that could be on the move over the next few days.
Giants ace Johnny Cueto could be the biggest name on the trade block, but a six-game winning streak by San Francisco might take him off the market. Either way, Stewart doesn't believe Cueto is a fit for the A's.
"He's a great pick-up for any team except the Oakland A's," Stewart said. "You're looking at a guy that's at $22 million and then he's got another year at $20-plus [million]. That's not the type of pitcher the A's are looking to go after. And you're going to have to give up prospects unless the team is willing to eat some of the salary.
"But that $20 million salary and you look at the budget of the A's and what their payroll is, he comes into the Oakland A's organization and he's taking up a third of their payroll, and that's not how the A's have gone about things through the years. A guy like this just doesn't fit economically for what the A's are looking to do."
Los Angeles Angels starter Dylan Bundy, who the A's faced Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum, might not be what the team is looking for either, according to Willis.
"He's a strike-thrower, he commands with all three of his pitches, he works at his own pace," Willis said. "But is he really the guy that's going to be able to match up, like Stew said, against a Verlander or a Gerrit Cole? I don't think so. I think that he's a middle of the rotation type guy. I don't think he's going to get as many swings and misses against the Tampa Bay Rays or the Yankees or teams like that. So I don't think you necessarily want to give up a lot of prospects for a guy like that."
The pitcher that Stewart sees lining up against the best pitchers in the league and holding his own is Texas Rangers ace Lance Lynn, who the A's are facing Monday night in Arlington.
"You have to look at the [league], and you have to say to yourself, 'Am I better than the Yankees? Am I better than Tampa? Am I better than Cleveland? Can I win the American League?' " Stewart said. "And if you can win the American League, then a pitcher like Lance Lynn, for me ... and the reason why I picked this guy is because he's cost-friendly, and this guy, when you put him on the mound, he's not afraid, he's got postseason experience, and when you put him on the mound, he matches with [Justin] Verlander, he matches with Gerrit Cole, he matches with any No. 1 in the league, in my opinion."
General manager David Forst and executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane have some decisions to make over the next few days. Do they believe their squad, who already have the best record in the AL, are good enough as is? Or are they inclined to add one or two more pieces to make sure the A's have no holes when they enter the expanded MLB playoffs in October?
We'll find out soon enough.