OAKLAND - The A's starting rotation has the potential to look a whole lot different in 2019.
Of Oakland's five starters to finish the season, only Mike Fiers and Daniel Mengden are under team control for next year. Youngsters Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo, Jharel Cotton, and A.J. Puk should also be able to contribute, but the latter two will be coming off Tommy John surgery.
"Starting pitching -- both guys who are free agents and guys who are injured -- is a priority for us to figure out sooner rather than later," general manager David Forst said. "Those conversations are to be had over the next weeks and months."
The A's will have to decide whether to bring back veteran starters Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson, all significant contributors in 2018, and all free agents.
"They'll be part of our conversations," Forst confirmed. "A lot has been said about the group and the chemistry. For Trevor and Brett to come back for their second tour as veterans and Edwin to come in here having been just about everywhere else, you can't say enough about what they added, not only to the pitching staff, but to the whole group. They'll certainly be a part of our conversation going forward."
"We wouldn't have been where we were without these guys," manager Bob Melvin said. "We think very highly of these guys. They were the right guys at the right time. Obviously we have some decisions to make on them, but they fit in really well here. Great decisions to bring these guys in."
The A's could also seek additional starting pitching help from the free agent market. Forst suggested that was a possibility, but added that it was too early to know for sure.
"We don't ever rule anything out," he said. "It's too soon to talk specifics like that. We have a lot of internal things to take care of. I cannot say we've talked about a specific like that."
Whether it comes from within the organization or the free agent market, improved starting pitching is clearly a necessity for Oakland. And as we learned from this season's barrage of arm and shoulder injuries, you can never have too much depth in your starting rotation.