On Sunday, the A's optioned four players to Triple-A Las Vegas and reassigned 10 more, leaving them with 45 players in Major League camp. The cuts will only get tougher in the coming days and weeks as Oakland must ultimately narrow its roster to 25. Here's a look at the biggest decisions on the horizon.
The A's find themselves with three Major League catchers battling for two spots. Oakland brought back Josh Phegley on a one-year contract and signed free agents Chris Herrmann and Nick Hundley.
As the only left-handed hitter of the group, Herrmann appears to have one of the spots locked up. The 31-year-old's versatility also gives him an edge, as he can play in the outfield if necessary.
That leaves veterans Nick Hundley and Josh Phegley competing for the right-handed side of the platoon. Hundley, 35 signed a minor-league contract with the A's last month after spending the last two seasons across the Bay with the Giants. As MLB's Jane Lee notes, Hundley has an opt-out clause in his deal, which means Oakland will lose him if he doesn't make the big-league roster.
The A's likely face the same situation with Phegley, who is out of minor league options. The 31-year-old would have to clear waivers before being sent down, which is unlikely. Still, Hundley figures to have a slight edge because of his bat. His career .706 career OPS of .706 is significantly higher than Phegley's .635.
The A's essentially have eight outfielders competing for five spots. Assuming Stephen Piscotty, Ramón Laureano, and Robbie Grossman make the squad -- that leaves five players for two openings.
Mark Canha and Chad Pinder are the likely frontrunners, having already proven themselves at the big league level. Nick Martini was hit with some bad luck last week when he sprained his knee chasing a foul ball. He will almost certainly start the season in Triple-A. Dustin Fowler also seems destined for Triple-A Las Vegas, though he should get a chance with the A's at some point this season.
That leaves Franklin Barreto as the wild card of the group. The 23-year-old has put together a terrific spring, batting .412/.444/.588 while re-learning the outfield. Still, he would probably have to beat out Pinder for a utility job, which feels like a longshot.
Veterans Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, and Brett Anderson should have roster spots locked up, which leaves Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas, Chris Bassitt, Paul Blackburn, Aaron Brooks, and Jesús Luzardo battling for the final two rotation openings. Mengden and Montas are out of options, which gives them the inside track.
Luzardo, 21, will be a factor at some point this season but will probably start the year in Triple-A. The A's want to make sure their top prospect is absolutely ready before calling him up to the big leagues, especially since they have other options in Mengden and Montas.
Since Bassitt and Blackburn have options remaining, the A's figure to send them to Triple-A Las Vegas. While Brooks is out of options, he would likely clear waivers and join Las Vegas.
Oakland figures to utilize an eight-man bullpen. Assuming Blake Treinen, Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, Yusmeiro Petit, and Ryan Buchter are locks, that leaves just two openings.
Among those competing are Liam Hendriks, J.B. Wendelken, Jerry Blevins, Tanner Anderson, Andrew Triggs, and Ryan Dull. Hendriks and Blevins are the likely frontrunners, though Wendelken will certainly factor into the equation at some point this year.
Anderson has had an outstanding spring, allowing just one run in six innings, with nine strikeouts. The 25-year-old right-hander has experience as both a starter and reliever and could be a darkhorse candidate to make the roster. Triggs and Dull provide welcome depth but will almost certainly start the season in Triple-A.