After winning the 2020 American League West title the Oakland Athletics have plenty of question marks for the 2021 season. Including will Billy Beane finally leave the franchise? Will that also mean that majority owner John Fisher decides at some point to sell the franchise? Who will replace Marcus Semien at shortstop? Does closer Liam Hendriks stay? What will the rotation look like?
Needs for the 2021 season include second base, shortstop, starting pitching, relief pitching and at closer.
On the infield several positions are already set. At catcher is Sean Murphy, first base Matt Olson, third base Matt Chapman who is coming back from hip surgery, their utility man is Chad Pinder who came up with some big hits in the postseason, Vimael Machin since he plays multiple positions on the infield, and Jonah Heim is the backup catcher.
Khris Davis who struggled mightily will remain the team’s primary designated hitter. He appeared more comfortable at the plate towards the end of the season and hit several key home runs in the playoffs.
The outfield is pretty much set with Mark Canha in left field, Ramon Laureano in center field, Stephen Piscotty in right field and Seth Brown taking over as the fourth outfielder as Robbie Grossman will likely get a more lucrative contract elsewhere.
Chris Bassitt is the ace of the staff, Frankie Montas really struggled after a back issue caused him to miss a start, Jesus Luzardo had his ups and downs yet got valuable experience in his first taste of the majors as a starter, and A.J. Puk and Daulton Jefferies are in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation.
In the bullpen is J.B. Wendelken, Lou Trivino, Jake Diekman, Burch Smith and closer Liam Hendriks gets re-signed.
That means there are several spots that are open that need to get filled for the Athletics. Starting with the infield second basemen Tommy LaStella is a priority to get re-signed. With Chapman coming back from the aforementioned hip surgery, Jake Lamb makes a lot of sense to get brought back as well. Unfortunately Marcus Semien’s price tag is likely too high for him to remain in Oakland, so the best solution at shortstop becomes Andrelton Simmons.
Give him a three-year deal around $51 million which will allow for him to groom his eventual replacement Nick Allen.
Oakland needs to make a splash to repeat as division champions. So this means including starter Sean Manaea, shortstop Robert Puason, catcher Kyle McCann and left-hander Hogan Harris to the Tampa Bay Rays for starter Blake Snell and left-handed pitcher John Doxakis.
To shore up the bullpen free agent signings of Tommy Kahnle and Jose Alvarez.
The Athletics opening day lineup then will look something like this.
1. LaStella, 2B
2. Laureano, CF
3. Chapman, 3B
4. Olson, 1B
5. Davis, DH
6. Canha, LF
7. Piscotty, RF
8. Simmons, SS
9. Murphy, C
Pinder, Lamb, Machin, Brown and Heim.
Bullpen then consists of Hendriks, Kahnle, Alvarez, Diekman, Smith, Trivino and Wendelken.