There was a time at the beginning of the offseason when the Oakland A's were looking to have A.J. Puk as a possible option for the rotation. They simply did not have enough viable options otherwise, with the idea of stretching Puk out making some sense despite his success in the bullpen.
Those days have passed. While Cole Irvin and Paul Blackburn are still the only two locks for the rotation, the A's have far more depth than they did at the start of the offseason.
Oakland A's have plenty of rotation depth
Although Blackburn and Irvin are a given for the rotation, Shintaro Fujinami and Drew Rucinski may be as close as possible without actually having officially been handed a rotation spot yet. Fujinami was expected to become a part of the A's rotation when he signed despite splitting his time between the rotation and bullpen for the Hanshin Tigers. Rucinski had become one of the better starters in the Korean Baseball Organization before signing in Oakland and is likely to continue in that role.
The fifth spot in the rotation may be the biggest battle. Seven different pitchers, including prospects Ken Waldichuk and Kyle Muller, are likely to face off for that spot. Muller may have the inside track to that spot right now as general manager David Forst had said that Muller was expected to begin the season as part of the A's rotation, although those comments were made prior to the signings of Rucinski and Fujinami.
Although it is fair to wonder if the A's do have any future top of the rotation arms, they are certainly in a better spot than they were in 2022. It may not be a surprise for the A's to have at least 12 different pitchers start a game as they did last season, but the depth they have acquired is much better. Even if the results are not there this season, there is starting to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
The Oakland A's have managed to build an impressive amount of pitching depth in a short amount of time. Now they need to figure out which of those arms are part of the future core.