Bob Melvin

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

Bob Melvin confident in A's young depth heading into Winter Meetings

The A's are at the MLB Winter Meetings with eyes on providing manager Bob Melvin with even more options to fill out his lineup, but it's not as if he doesn't have plenty to choose from already.

Whether it's the starting rotation, the infield or the outfield, Oakland possesses great depth at many positions, and a lot of that depth is young.

Both Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk made their long-awaited debuts for the A's last season, and Melvin told NBC Sports California that both are expected to be in the starting rotation when the season commences. Just how many players are a member of that rotation remains to be seen, however.

"I think anything is possible for us," Melvin said of the rotation. "We like to get a little bit creative. I think ideally guys like to be in a five-man rotation, it allows them to prepare. But whether it's the piggybacking-type thing, whether it's a six-man rotation for a period of time ... anything creative I think we would potentially look at, but I think as we go into the season right now, we'd probably look at a five-man rotation to start."

One would imagine that both Sean Manaea and Mike Fiers have been earmarked for two more spots in the starting rotation, as might Frankie Montas. Melvin also mentioned players like Chris Bassitt, Daulton Jeffries and James Kaprielian as additional pitching options.

That depth extends to the infield, as well. The A's were so confident in their second-base options that they felt comfortable trading the versatile Jurickson Profar to the Padres. Between Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Sheldon Neuse and even Chad Pinder, Oakland has several bodies to consider pairing with shortstop Marcus Semien in the middle of the infield. The trouble is, each of them bats right-handed, as does the vast majority of the A's current lineup. That doesn't seem to concern Melvin too much, though.

"I think we're always looking potentially for another left-handed bat in a little bit of a right-handed dominant lineup," Melvin explained, "but we're comfortable with the guys we have right now and we feel like we have multiple options."

The A's manager went on to admit that, in a perfect world, Oakland would be able to add a few left-handers, particularly considering the abundance of dominant right-handed starters in the AL West. The Angels reportedly are pursuing Gerrit Cole, and he could be the best of the bunch. The A's are aware of what their competitors are doing at the Winter Meetings, but they have reason to be confident.

[RELATED: Why Yankees offering Cole $245M is good for Giants, A's]

"We keep an eye on the teams in our division," Melvin said. "We keep our eyes on every team in the league, but at the end of the day, it's about what we can do to enhance our club and make our club better. You're talking about a club that's won 97 games two years in a row, so we feel pretty good about where we're at."

The A's already possess a deep roster, but perhaps with an addition or two, a deep playoff run could be in store.

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

semienhighfiveusatsi.jpg
USATSI

Why A's shortstop Marcus Semien could be MVP candidate again in 2020

Marcus Semien fell short of winning the AL MVP Award, but his third-place finish might be just the beginning.

At 29 years old, the A's shortstop still is very much in his prime and has significantly improved in each of his five seasons with Oakland.

When Semien first joined the A's at the age of 24, he was a decent hitter but looked completely lost in the field. In 2015, he committed a league-high 35 errors, prompting many to believe that he could never develop into a major-league shortstop.

But with the help of Ron Washington, Semien went to work. He spent hours upon hours working on his footwork, glovework, and consistency. Fast forward to 2019 and Semien has transformed into a back-to-back Gold Glove Award finalist.

Semien's offensive development has been just as impressive. This past season, the Bay Area native slashed .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, and 123 runs scored. He notched career-highs in just about every offensive stat imaginable, ranking near the top of the majors in all of the important categories.

Most impressive, Semien's 8.1 WAR (wins above replacement) was fourth-best in baseball, behind only Mike Trout, Alex Bregman, and Cody Bellinger. Semien started all 162 games at shortstop, batting in the leadoff spot for 145 of those contests. And the scariest part for the rest of the league is that he continues to get better.

"He becomes a better hitter every year," A's manager Bob Melvin said earlier this year. "Nobody works harder than Marcus Semien. He knows what he needs to work on."

After the All-Star break, Semien arguably was the most productive hitter in baseball. In 70 games, he slashed .304/.396/.621 with 19 homers, 22 doubles, five triples, 44 RBI, and 62 runs.

If Semien continues at that rate next season, it would translate to 44 home runs, 51 doubles, 12 triples, 102 RBI, and 143 runs over the course of 162 games. That certainly is MVP-caliber.

Of course, the A's have a major decision to make -- Semien is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season and figures to see some big-money offers. Will Oakland sign its star shortstop to an expensive extension or instead turn the reigns over to young prospect Jorge Mateo?

[RELATED: A's Luzardo an intriguing case for 2020 Rookie of the Year]

Semien is entering his final year of arbitration, where he is projected to get $13.5 million. After that, the A's could choose to make a qualifying offer to Semien for 2021, but there is no guarantee he would accept.

If 2020 does end up being Semien's last year in Oakland, it figures to be another special one. This year he was an MVP finalist. Perhaps next year he'll just be the MVP.

Why A's Bob Melvin, Billy Beane believe Khris Davis will bounce back

Why A's Bob Melvin, Billy Beane believe Khris Davis will bounce back

OAKLAND -- For all of the positive developments in the A's 2019 season, there still is one giant unsolved mystery.

What in the world happened to Khris Davis?

After recording at least 40 home runs and 100 RBI in each of his first three seasons with the A's, while incredibly batting .247 all three years, Davis plummeted back to earth this year. The 31-year-old slashed just .220/.293/.387, all career-worsts, with only 23 homers and 73 RBI.

"I know it was frustrating for Khris," A's executive vice president Billy Beane said. "I think he probably put a lot of pressure on himself. Khris takes a lot of pride in his role on the team and being that guy who's the 40-homer, middle-of-the-lineup guy. I think he was trying to find the answer as much as anybody, and it certainly wasn't for a lack of effort on his part or the coaching staff's.

"But we expect him to come back next year and return to his annual 40-homer, .247 (batting average)."

Davis actually got off to a tremendous start this season, batting .265 with 10 home runs and 19 RBI in his first 17 games. A week later, he signed a two-year, $33.5 million contract extension. That's when everything started to go wrong.

In his next 14 games, Davis failed to hit a home run, batting a lowly .189 during that stretch. Then on May 5, he collided with the left-field side wall in Pittsburgh, suffering a left hip contusion. From that point on, Davis hit 13 long balls in his final 97 games.

"The injury kind of sidetracked him," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He wasn't injured at the end of the year. For a guy that's used to being 'the guy' and is consistent at .247 with 40-something home runs and 100 RBI, it's hard. It's hard. You can get down on yourself and you can lose confidence.

"And then when it continues, it starts to snowball on you a little bit, and I think that was the case with him."

The question now is whether Davis can find a way to revert to the Khris Davis of old. Both Melvin and Beane are confident that he can and will.

"I expect him to come back and produce like he always has, and I know he expects the same thing," Melvin said. "Sometimes you just need a little bit of distance from a difficult year. When you look at the back of a baseball card, there's always going to be a year -- your worst year is going to be on there.

"He's been so consistent for us that it stands out, but I think he and we expect him to come back and do the things he has in the past."

Beane is on the same page as his manager regarding Davis' future, too.

[RELATED: Why A's will win World Series within next three seasons]

"He'll come back and he should be healthier. He had some little injuries at the beginning of the year that possibly could've been a factor. He hasn't used that as an excuse, to his credit. But they were there. He had the collision with the wall in Pittsburgh and then other issues as well. Again, he didn't use it as an excuse, but it's quite possible that there were some things that happened as a result of those injuries that messed with his mechanics a little bit.

"But he's got the offseason to forget about it and come back like we know he can."