Oakland Athletics: Will the A’s Contend or Rebuild in 2016?

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Contention Is Possible, But Not Probable

Steven Luke: Could the Oakland Athletics compete in 2016? Yes, because recent history has shown that they can surprise the world and come out and win a division title on the last day of the season.

Will the A’s compete in 2016? No.

This team is strapped by two big contracts on offense, Billy Butler and Coco Crisp, who are not as productive as they were when they were given those contracts. The starting rotation behind Sonny Gray will either be backed by an inexperienced group or a group that includes two pitchers who haven’t pitched in the big leagues in nearly two full seasons. The bullpen was a train wreak in 2016, and while there are plenty of free agents and young arms in the system to fix it, a full repair is going to take more than one season.

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It’s nearly impossible to count the A’s out any year before the season starts because you never know what Billy Beane and company will come up with. Even with that in mind, it’s hard to imagine they leap frog the three teams in the division they would need to pass in order to be in line for a wild card spot.

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Rich Paloma: Contenders? Yes.

The likelihood though, I’m not so certain.

The A’s have a long way to go from last year to overcome the obstacles that resulted in last place. An overhauled bullpen is needed, and I don’t know if Beane can go out and acquire sufficient bullpen help including a closer that will put Doolittle back as in the set up role.

If more power can be added to the lineup (via left field or first base), or some existing bats improve – Lawrie, Reddick, and BUTLER – the A’s can contend rather than just continue to rebuild or “just exist’ in the AL West.

Next: The Not-So Optimistic Outlook