Oakland Athletics Need a Strong Everyday Left Fielder

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The Oakland Athletics Must Find a Solution for Left Field

Since the Yoenis Cespedes trade back in 2014, the Oakland Athletics have not had a particularly strong player manning left field. The position has rotated between Coco Crisp, Sam Fuld, and Craig Gentry. However, Crisp did not play much last season due to injury, and while Fuld and Gentry were good defensively, their lack of production at the plate negatively effected the lineup. If the A’s want to contend in 2016, they are going to need a stronger player in left.

Acquiring a more permanent left fielder was one of the action items Oakland wanted to complete this offseason. However, this was third on their to-do list behind overhauling the bullpen and adding depth to the starting rotation. Additionally, the A’s do have some options within the club besides the three players mentioned above who could fill this position, so finding a new left fielder was not a high priority.

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After shelling out quite a bit of dough this offseason, it is becoming less likely that the A’s will spend big on one of the remaining top left field free agents. Even though it would be nice to think that the Athletics could swoop up Cespedes once again or nab Justin Upton, this is very unlikely. If they do sign any outfielder before the start of spring training, it will probably be some unknown or devalued player that will hopefully blossom in Oakland.

The A’s do have some options they can choose from on their roster. If the Athletics decide to use a current A’s player in left, it will most likely be Mark Canha. Even though his usual position is first base, the Athletics do have the ability to stick him in the outfield because of the acquisition of first baseman Yonder Alonso this offseason. Additionally, Canha has played a good amount of games in left field both in the majors and minors. If his bat continues to be as hot as it was at the end of 2015, he could be a good solution for left.

However, Alonso’s track record at the plate is not great. If Alonso performs poorly this season, the Athletics will likely use Canha at first more than in left field. Additionally, it is expected that once Canha gains more experience, he will be the Athletics’ everyday first baseman. Thus, he is not a permanent solution for left.

So, another option the A’s could look into is developing Jake Smolinski into a strong everyday left fielder. Smolinski came out of the gate hot when he made his MLB debut in 2014. However, this year he struggled at the plate and the Athletics were able to acquire him after the Texas Rangers placed him on waivers in June. Interestingly enough, left field is Smolinski’s primary fielding position. If Smolinski and the A’s can work on his offense this year, he could be a permanent solution for left since he is under team control until 2021.

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Ultimately, if the Oakland Athletics want to contend in the coming years, they will need to be proactive when it comes to strengthen the left field position. The proactive part is key since the A’s do not really have any outfield prospects in their farm system. They are either going to need to develop a current Athletic, sign a free agent or acquire an outfielder via a trade. Whether it be choosing a player already in the A’s organization or waiting until next offseason to sign a starting left fielder, this issue will need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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