The Oakland Athletics were hit hard during the recent MLB free agency period. The team lost many of their top players, and they struggled to find new faces to fill in those old roles.
The point doesn’t mean the team isn’t going to aim to defend their AL West title. The Athletics still have a great shot at it, especially with Chris Bassitt and Jesus Luzardo continuing to head the rotation. Matt Olson, Mark Canha, and Ramon Laureano are still on the roster to keep the offense running.
But the team’s departures are too significant and could make it tough for them to get far enough during the playoffs. The team isn’t always willing to spend big bucks on free agents, and that point showed this offseason from a lack of action on the market.
Mark your calendars! 🗓️
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) February 12, 2021
Who’s Out of Oakland?
The two most prominent departures for the Athletics are from shortstop Marcus Semien and closer Liam Hendriks. Semien left for the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year contract a season after getting seven home runs and 23 RBI. Hendriks moved on to the Chicago White Sox on a four-year contract after getting fourteen saves, a 1.78 ERA, and 37 strikeouts.
Outfielder Robbie Grossman also moved on to the Detroit Tigers on a two-year contract. Starting pitcher Mike Minor went to the Kansas City Royals on a two-year contract a season after throwing 62 strikeouts.
Infielder Tommy La Stella signed a three-year contract with the San Francisco Giants. He was one of the more proficient hitters on a slumping offense last season with a .281 average.
All these departures have prompted the Athletics to dig deep in the team’s system to find replacements. The team has hopes for starter A.J. Puk to return after missing much of last season following shoulder surgery.
Infielder Sheldon Nurse will likely reach the roster as the season starts, but he could put in some more starting time this season than what he expects.
Did They Bring in Anyone?
The Athletics didn’t strike out all the way on the MLB free agency market. The team brought starter Mike Fiers back through a one-year deal. He will appear in the middle of the team’s rotation.
The Athletics picked outfielder Ka’ai Tom as a Rule 5 draft selection. He comes from the Cleveland Indians with no MLB service time. The former fifth-round draft pick will likely be a bench player to start the season.
The team also purchased the contract of reliever pitcher Nik Turley. He had a 4.98 ERA last season and landed twenty strikeouts. He is expected to be the middle part of the team’s bullpen.
Reliever Deolis Guerra also joins the Athletics as a minor league free agent. He had an 8.59 ERA with the Philadelphia Phillies last season, but he will continue to compete for a roster spot during spring training.
Shortstop Peete Kozma will also be with the Athletics during spring training. The former first-round pick was signed from the Atlanta Braves this offseason.
He didn’t get much time to contend in 2020, so he will use the spring training period to see if he’s still capable of getting on a major league roster.
The General Look
The Oakland Athletics have been financially conservative over the years. While the team regularly competes for a playoff spot, it may be tougher for the team to do that this season.
The club didn’t get as many useful free agents as they wished, and there were too many departures of note. The Athletics will still be contenders this season, but getting out there will be a challenge.
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