The Oakland A’s fire sale has led to plenty of opportunities on the diamond. However, there are important opportunities in the clubhouse as well.
The A’s need players to step up and be the leaders of this young club. It is the type of role that veteran players should have, but it is not as though the A’s have many veterans. Mark Canha is going to depart as a free agent and Sean Murphy is as good as traded. This would essentially leave Ramon Laureano and Tony Kemp as the only leaders on the roster.
Someone needs to step up on Oakland A’s pitching staff
Meanwhile, the A’s do not have that type of presence on their pitching staff. Their pitchers are all essentially at the start of their careers and have yet to establish themselves. In fact, Paul Blackburn is the only pitcher on their staff eligible for arbitration that is likely to be a part of the team in 2023.
Blackburn would make sense as one of the leaders of the A’s rotation. He was their All Star representative in 2022 and had been in the midst of a breakout season until injuries torpedoed his overall numbers before ending his season. Blackburn has also been through the long bus rides and the shuffling between Triple-A and the majors, a depth piece that was forced into a more prominent role due to the rebuilding process. It is also an experience that would make him a valuable mentor.
The other possible option for that role would be Cole Irvin. Like Blackburn, he was not someone that attracted much attention, being purchased from the then pitching starved Phillies. While he was expected to be nothing more than a depth piece on the edge of the 40 man roster, Irvin has become a solid major leaguer in his own right, someone that defied the odds to become a valuable piece.
The A’s will find those leaders. Someone will step into the void, a pitcher that the rest of the staff have come to respect from their work ethic and journey. Right now, the two most likely candidates are also the pitchers most likely to be fronting their staff in 2023.
The Oakland A’s need to find leaders on their pitching staff for next year. Cole Irvin and Paul Blackburn may be the best options.