The Oakland A’s have grown accustomed to finding year-by-year stopgaps to fill their starting rotation. Flyball pitchers fair well in the spacious dimensions of the Coliseum, and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Billy Beane and General Manager David Forst apply their ballpark as an advantage by targeting under-market contact veterans like Mike Fiers, Homer Bailey, Brett Anderson, and Tanner Roark. They’re also one of the best in the game at making mid-year adjustments to keep the roster competitive.
For the first time in a while, however, they’re looking at a mostly-holdover rotation in 2021, writes Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, and Chris Bassitt are all under contract, and all four should be guaranteed rotation roles, assuming good health. Daulton Jefferies also made his debut this year, and they hope to see A.J. Puk return healthy enough to threaten for a rotation role.
Given Puk’s injury history, they might prefer to go a year leaving him in the bullpen – especially considering that’s looking like a greater need at the moment. Along with lockdown closer Liam Hendriks, relievers Joakim Soria, Yusmeiro Petit, and T.J. McFarland are heading towards free agency. Leveraging a high-impact arm like Puk in relief could be a more economical way to backfill those bullpen departures. As we noted above, the A’s have a knack for finding back-end rotation types for a reasonable fee on the free agent market. They could easily look to bring Fiers back, for instance, if he were amenable to taking a pay cut from the $8.1MM full-scale contract he was set to earn in 2020.