Athletics head into spring training with a number of unanswered questions

Who will secure the final rotation spot for the Athletics? Will Tyler Soderstrom find his footing in 2024?

Sep 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Tyler Soderstrom (37) rounds the
Sep 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics catcher Tyler Soderstrom (37) rounds the / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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It's a quiet Sunday as the Athletics get ready to head to Arizona for the start of spring training this week. The A's pitchers and catchers will report to camp on Wednesday the 14th, with the first full squad workout scheduled for the following Tuesday the 20th.

A couple weeks ago, we were thinking that there would be three rotation spots up for grabs. Because the A's have signed major league starters Ross Stripling and Alex Wood, there's now just one spot in the rotation available for a rather large group of depth pitchers.

It should be an interesting battle between Luis Medina, Kyle Muller, Joey Estes, Joe Boyle, and Rule 5 pick Mitch Spence. There are a couple other guys who might find themselves in the conversation but given the fact that Medina, Muller, and Spence all need to be on the active roster or face a DFA (or a return to the Yankees in Spence's case), those three would seem to have a leg up on the competition.

While GM David Forst has officially come out and said that Ken Waldichuk will be unavailable for opening day due to the flexor tendon surgery he underwent earlier this offseason, it's expected that he'll be in the conversation when he's ready to return.

There are a few position battles looming on the offensive side as well. Darell Hernaiz is expected to get every opportunity to win the starting shortstop job out of camp but if he falters, or if Nick Allen goes on a tear in Arizona, that spot could open up.

One name that will be on everyone's mind is Tyler Soderstrom. 2024 is a pivotal year for the young catching prospect, who had a dismal cup of coffee in the majors last season. Soderstrom played in 45 games in Oakland and hit .160 with an untenable .472 OPS.

Soderstrom hit for a good bit of power at Triple-A in 2023 but doesn't have a good feel for the strike zone. His 31% strikeout rate, coupled with a lack of success on contact, resulted in a poor showing. A's fans everywhere are desperately hoping that he can find a way to pull it together in 2024.

Soderstrom should get plenty of leeway to find his footing in 2024 but if he continues to struggle, he'll end up back in Triple-A as Lawrence Butler would seem to be poised to step in and handle the role.

Carlos Perez will also be back in camp, leaving the A's with a viable, if unexciting, option behind the dish to backup Shea Langeliers if Soderstrom can't handle a major league role.

The A's aren't going to be a playoff contender in 2024 but there are still reasons to tune in. Competition should be heavy early on and should give us some interesting storylines heading into spring training games.

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