Oakland A’s: Three prospects that can have major roles in 2021
By David Hill
As the Oakland A’s look to fill out their roster without much money, their prospects will play important roles. Let’s look at three players poised to make a difference.
The Oakland A’s, much like many other teams in Major League Baseball, are going to find themselves in a financial crunch this offseason. Due to not having any fan revenue in 2020, and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, teams may not be as active as usual in free agency, leaving those franchises to find internal options to fill out the roster.
That is particularly true with the A’s. Even in a normal offseason, they would be hard pressed to replace each of their ten free agents in the open market. As such, their prospects will find themselves thrust into significant roles starting next season.
Let’s take a look at three prospects that the Oakland A’s may need to rely upon.
A.J. Puk is the obvious choice for a role on the Oakland A’s pitching staff. Had he been healthy, his time would have already come – he was seemingly ticketed for a place in the A’s rotation for the start of the 2018 season, but missed the year due to Tommy John surgery.
Those injury concerns have been an ongoing issue for Puk. He has been a consensus top 100 prospect in each of the past four years, but has pitched a combined 36.2 innings since the end of the 2017 season. He missed all of 2020 due to ongoing shoulder issues that eventually required surgery.
His injuries have also put his future role in question. While the A’s still envision Puk as a starter, it is fair to wonder if his arm can hold up to such a workload. Given his excellent slider and high octane fastball, Puk could be a devasting reliever, potentially even serving as a closer. The A’s do have an opening for the ninth inning with Liam Hendriks‘ expected departure, so Puk’s ascension to the role may not take long.
If healthy, A.J. Puk will have a major role with the Oakland A’s. But that caveat will remain until he can prove that he can stay on the mound.