Oakland Athletics 2022 Season Previewby John Lepore March 29, 2022 0 comments
The Oakland Athletics have been pretty busy this offseason. They have decided to restock their farm system by trading away their two best players. The A’s may not be done either as Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea may be getting shipped out as well. All of this comes after Oakland missed the playoffs for the first time in four years. Despite an 86-76 record in 2021, the A’s are bringing in a youth movement and trading away players now to get maximum value. Time will tell if this strategy will work, but for now, let’s take a look at the moves and who the A’s will have in the field in 2022.
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While the additions to the A’s 40-man roster are significant, the major league roster may not be as affected. Trading away half of their infield got them some nice pieces but most of them are not ready for the majors just yet. However, there are a couple of them who could see time with the big club this year.
Kevin Smith, SS/3B, $700,000
Smith came up last year with the Toronto Blue Jays. Although he didn’t impress going 3-for-32, he showed a nice power-speed combo in Triple-A. The A’s will give him a shot at taking over for departed third baseman Matt Chapman who they traded to Toronto. While at Triple-A Buffalo, Smith slashed .285/.370/.561 with 21 home runs and 18 stolen bases. He played mostly at shortstop where is glove was adequate.
Cristian Pache, OF, $700,000
Once a top prospect of the Atlanta Braves, Pache was sent to Oakland along with others as part of the Matt Olson trade. The newly acquired outfielder will likely start for the A’s this year out of the gate. Pache, like Smith, underwhelmed in his small sample in the majors going 7-for-63 last year with the Braves. He doesn’t have the offensive upside like Smith does, but Pache is a Gold Glove caliber centerfielder.
Brent Honeywell Jr., RHP, $700,000
As you can see, all of these additions for the A’s are on rookie deals. Honeywell is no exception and was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in November for cash. He was once a top pitching prospect, but has had multiple surgeries and Oakland will probably use him in a bullpen role. He has a solid four-pitch mix and could be well-suited for a long relief role with a spot start thrown in if needed.
The A’s gave up most of their core to obtain cheaper options. They felt it was time to restock the major league roster as well as the farm by trading away players now before they turn into just rentals as to get the best return. Oakland fans can’t be happy but if this was the direction the team wanted to go in, it was their best course of action to maximize the haul they got back.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
The three-time Gold Glove winner had a rough offensive season last year. However, he still has some pop blasting 27 HRs last season. He won’t have to be an integral run producer in Toronto as their lineup is stacked. Chapman will just have to keep his power up, play his usual great defense, and try not to keep his strikeout total below his batting average.
Matt Olson, 1B, Atlanta Braves
The Braves lost Freddie Freeman so they went and got his replacement. Olson is more than four years younger than the 2020 NL MVP and is a better fielder. After giving up a bunch for the former Athletic, Atlanta turned around and gave Olson an eight-year/$168 million contract with a team option for 2030. This move may open up a spot for Oakland’s top prospect Tyler Soderstrom to make his debut this season as Olson’s replacement.
Chris Bassitt, RHP, New York Mets
Bassitt was a late bloomer for Oakland, going 29-14 with a 3.23 ERA since his 29th birthday. Nevertheless, he was going to be moved at some point this year as he will be playing for a contract. The Mets added an important piece to their rotation, while the A’s got right-handers J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller. While Ginn needs some more seasoning at the minor league level, Oller is 27 and saw time in Triple-A last year. He should fight for a rotation spot.
Oakland decided to start the rebuild after missing the postseason last year. They did get much more of a haul from the deals they made than they would have if they waited another year. The timing was not bad. With the mix of players they did acquire, the A’s should be fairly competitive. Oakland will have a new manager for the first time in 11 years as Mark Kotsay takes over for Bob Melvin who took over the reins midway through 2011.
The AL West has gotten more competitive with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners improving and the Los Angeles Angels hoping at least for health. The Houston Astros are still tough despite losing Carlos Correa. Oakland picked a good time to reset the clock for the franchise. They honestly weren’t likely to be very much in the race this season and with a new manager, why not reshuffle the deck. The A’s will likely finish in last place this year but could move up in 2023 or 2024 depending on how their acquisitions turn out.
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