Expectations are low for the Oakland A’s heading into 2022. Considering that they traded their top two pitchers, their star first baseman, and a Gold Glove third baseman, it is no surprise that most prognosticators are picking the A’s to finish at the bottom of the AL West.
But there is always hope. Even with those moves and the desire to slash salary, there is hope that the A’s can contend. It may be a very slim hope, but there is that ray nonetheless. Let’s take a look at what needs to go right for the A’s to compete in 2022.
How the Oakland A’s can compete in 2022
Previously highly regarded prospects step up
It is easy to look at the trades the Oakland A’s made and to be disappointed with the returns. Shea Langeliers was the top prospect received in those deals, and he profiles as a glove first catcher with a somewhat questionable hit tool.
However, the A’s did receive a couple of players that had been highly regarded before. Cristian Pache and Kevin Smith had been top prospects in their system before but never really had a chance at the major league level. Smith was blocked in the Blue Jays organization while Pache had struggled in his limited time with the Braves.
The A’s also have several formerly well regarded pitchers that are ready to make an impact. James Kaprielian showed that he could be a solid major league arm last season and could take another step forward in 2022. Daulton Jefferies is finally going to get his chance this season as well as he should slot into the back of the A’s rotation. If he can replicate his minor league success, he could emerge as a solid arm. Likewise, if Brent Honeywell can stay healthy, he could emerge as well.
The same is true in the bullpen where a pair of former starters have found a home. Domingo Acevedo has a high spin fastball that has been difficult to barrel in the minors and could lead to a high leverage role for the A’s in 2022. Manager Mark Kotsay has plans to use A.J. Puk as a fireman in a similar role to what Josh Hader did early in his major league career.
This is a lot to ask for in one season. But sometimes, all a player needs is a chance to make an impact.