2023 wasn't the best year to be an Oakland Athletics fan. The team was awful on the field, going 50-112, scoring the fewest runs in the league while allowing the second most. There was also a substantial amount of drama surrounding the relocation process and a lengthy battle between team ownership and the city of Oakland that is far from over.
And it may not count as it was technically in 2022, but the Athletics traded Sean Murphy in a three-team deal back in December of last year. The players acquired in that deal, including Kyle Mueller and Esteury Ruiz, had mixed results for the A's in 2023.
As we head into 2024, there aren't any major names left on the roster to trade. GM David Forst has already been explicit about keeping starting pitcher Paul Blackburn, and it seems unlikely that they'll move JP Sears before the season starts.
Since we're trying to remain positive for as long as possible into the new year, here are a few things we have to look forward to in 2024.
Zack Gelof was a mid-season call up for the Athletics and outperformed essentially everyone on the roster in his 300 plate appearances. Gelof hit .267/.337/.504 in 69 games while hitting 14 homers and stealing 14 bases. He's shaping up to be the best player on the roster and at just 24 years old, it's hard to not be excited about the player he could become.
Brent Rooker was the Athletics' lone all-star selection in 2023 and he'll be back for what should be another strong season in Oakland next year. After bouncing around three different organizations between 2020-2022, Rooker found a home in Oakland and thrived.
He hit a career-high 30 home runs last year, popped an additional 20 doubles, and played serviceable defense in the outfield corners. He's most likely slotted into the DH role on the A's opening day roster and we're excited to see how he follows that up in 2024.
The A's also have top-prospect Mason Miller set to head their bullpen next season. Miller has impressive stuff and pitched well when healthy in 2023. He posted a 3.78 ERA in 33.1 innings in Oakland, with 38 strikeouts to just 16 walks.
Miller's biggest issue will be remaining healthy. Forst has already come out and said the A's would like to keep Miller in a bullpen role in 2024 in an attempt to keep him on the field as much as possible. With a fastball that sits in the high-90's and a pair of nasty off-speed pitches to match, he's as exciting a pitcher as we've seen come through the system in a while.
And as far as relocation goes, yes the team has received approval from the league to move forward with the relocation process but the team hasn't fully secured financing for the deal. Schools Over Stadiums is still fighting to prevent the Nevada legislature from gifting the allocated $380 million to Fisher and the A's, and it's possible that they bring it to a public referendum.
In the scenario where the Nevada taxpayers withdraw public financing for Fisher's relocation project, the entire deal might fall apart and force him back to the bargaining table with the city of Oakland. Time will tell, but we're going to keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best as long as reasonably possible. Happy 2024 everyone.