The A's made their first move of the Winter Meetings Tuesday afternoon when they signed free-agent catcher Chris Herrmann to a one-year deal worth a reported $1 million.
Herrmann, 31, becomes the second catcher on the A's 40-man roster, joining Josh Phegley. The big question now is, what does that mean for 2018 starter (and free agent) Jonathan Lucroy?
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lucroy and the A's are not close on salary in their negotiation. Could Oakland really enter the season with just Herrman and Phegley at catcher?
"As of right now, [they] are platooning," general manager David Forst said Tuesday. "I think we'll still probably look around and see if there are options just because you never know, but it's nice to be in a spot right now where we have two Major League catchers who fit well."
A left-handed hitter, Herrmann has a career slash line of .205/.282/.351 in parts of seven MLB seasons. He spent last year with the Mariners, though he only played 36 games at the big-league level.
"We saw him last year." manager Bob Melvin noted. "He had some good games against us. ... He handles the bat pretty well. A lot of the metrics we look at as far as framing and pop times to second base look pretty good for us, and that's why we ended up signing him."
Forst added: "Chris spent a lot of last year in the minor leagues but he played very well in [Triple-A] Tacoma. He has always been a guy who can handle the bat, take a walk, and when he has caught full-time, he's done well."
It now becomes unlikely that Lucroy will re-sign with the A's, at least in the near future. However, the catcher market is deep and there is a chance Lucroy won't receive a satisfactory offer from anyone, forcing him to remain a free agent until late in the offseason like last year.
If that's the case, Oakland could take another crack at bringing back its starting catcher for a discounted price. But if Lucroy does draw interest before then, he's as good as gone.
Still, Forst insists the A's would be comfortable entering the season with a Herrmann-Phegley platoon behind the plate.
"Yes, we would," he stated. "I think we'd be fine right now but there's a lot of time left, so we'll see if other opportunities come up."