The Oakland A’s theoretically have an opening in their starting rotation. However, that does not mean they need to spend in free agency.
In theory, the Oakland A’s need another arm for the starting rotation. Both Mike Fiers and Mike Minor are free agents, leaving a spot open in the back of the starting five. As Oakland is looking to continue their postseason run, and defend the AL West title in 2021, they could look to make a move in free agency.
There is one major drawback to that plan. The A’s have ten free agents this offseason, and will have a limited budget to work with. Given their hopes of bringing back both Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella, there will not be enough money to spend in free agency to replace all of those players.
That includes the starting rotation. However, the A’s are seemingly in good shape in that regard. They have several options that could step in that are seemingly close to being major league ready.
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Daulton Jefferies got his first look at the majors last season. It did not go well as he allowed five runs on five hits, including two homers, and two walks over his two innings. However, he has impressed in his minor league career, posting a 3.17 ERA and a 1.047 WHiP over his 99.1 innings, striking out 121 batters with just 12 walks.
Like Jefferies, James Kaprielian is another former first round pick who had been plagued by the injury bug. He also made his major league debut, allowing three runs on four hits, including two homers, and two walks over his 3.2 innings, striking out four. Kaprielian has also been solid in the minors when he has been able to get on the mound, with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.027 WHiP, striking out 111 batters with 23 walks in his 97.1 innings.
Then there is the Wild Card – A.J. Puk. If he can stay healthy, Puk has the type of stuff that could make him a top of the rotation arm. But that has been a big if for the towering lefty, who has pitched just 36.2 innings over the past three years due to his ongoing injury woes.
It is entirely possible that the A’s look at a cheaper veteran option as well as a depth piece. Jefferies, Kaprielian, and Puk have all had injury issues, so bringing in a backup option would make sense. But this does not need to be someone to step in to the middle of the rotation.
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The Oakland A’s have options to fill out their rotation internally. In an offseason where they will look to fill quite a few holes, a starting pitcher does not have to be an option.