We're now just 10 days away from Oakland Athletics pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Arizona and I've got to say that despite how brutal this offseason has been, it's exciting to think that baseball is right around the corner.
Regardless of how much I can't stand this organization's leadership at the moment, it's still going to be refreshing to start getting daily reports from spring camp and we're just a few short days from actual games after that.
Because we're so close, it's time to take one more look at how the roster is shaping up before the team arrives in Mesa. We'll start with the hitters and follow up later today with the pitchers. We can be fairly certain about a few different positions to start.
Shea Langeliers is locked into the starting catching role. He'll most likely have Tyler Soderstrom backing him up but the Athletics did re-sign Carlos Perez who isn't on the 40-man roster but will be in training camp with the team. Neither of the team's top minor league options, Kyle McCann and Yohel Pozo, are on the 40-man but like Perez they'll be in Arizona on non-roster invites.
Ryan Noda and Zack Gelof will lock down the right side of the infield. The left half is where it gets interesting. Darrel Hernaiz should be the front runner for opening day shortstop. He will compete with Aledmys Diaz and Nick Allen for the job, but all expectations point toward Hernaiz earning the lion's share of playing time to open the year.
At third, it's likely going to be one of Abraham Toro or Jordan Diaz. Despite Toro's switch hitting capacity, he has a good bit more power from the left side. If neither player wins the job outright, they could find themselves in a platoon early on with Toro in the lineup against righties and Diaz facing the southpaws.
Third base prospect Brett Harris will be in Arizona as well, though he seems a more likely candidate for a mid-season callup than he is to make the opening day roster.
Miguel Andujar should find himself in a platoon with Seth Brown in an outfield corner, while JJ Bleday likely earns everyday reps in the other corner. Esteury Ruiz will be the everyday center fielder, and Brent Rooker likely has the DH job locked down, barring a massive Tyler Soderstrom breakout.
Lawrence Butler and Lazaro Armenteros are both on the 40-man but will likely start the year in Triple-A Las Vegas and have to earn their way to Oakland.
The A's added both Andujar and Toro early in the offseason and then mostly held serve. It's not the most encouraging group, to be honest. There are some ways to look at the group and see things going right for them but there are a lot of question marks and many of the veteran guys have limited upside.
It may prove unwise for David Forst to have settled on running it back with the group that posted the lowest runs scored per game figure in MLB last year. But maybe a full season of Gelof, coupled with a potential Soderstrom breakout and improvements from guys like Noda and Diaz make the difference for the A's in 2024.