The A’s made their splash this offseason by signing free agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two year $6.5 million dollar deal that also includes an option for a third year. This was the A’s biggest need going into 2013 with the departure of Stephen Drew and trade of Cliff Pennington. Therefore, the A’s roster seems to be close to finalized for the start of spring training. But with a few months until then GM Billy Beane still has time to make some tweaks. When things get quiet Beane always seems to make something happen, whether that is big or small. Let’s take a look at some potential finishing touches on the A’s 2013 season.
Shortstop- Even though the A’s got their shortstop in Nakajima he is no sure thing. A lot of position players that come over from Japan have a tough time adjusting to Major League pitching. Also with a lack of depth or talent as a backup (right now the other options are Adam Rosales, Grant Green, Eric Sogard, and Andy Parrino). With Pennington gone via trade, Brandon Hicks gone via claim to the Braves, and Drew gone via free agency, the A’s should look to add depth if at all possible. This may be a small signing such as a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, or a trade such as Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, or Jed Lowrie.
Third Base- Josh Donaldson broke out in the middle of last year and solidified himself as the everyday starter at the hot corner. The problem is that was the first time Donaldson has looked that good and there is a concern that he may return to his struggles next year. To keep him focused and hungry the A’s would do well to bring in another third baseman. This could come in house in the form of Grant Green. Or it could come from a free agent signing. Brandon Inge may be the perfect fit (as I wrote earlier this year). Either way the A’s need some competition for Donaldson as a way to keep him focused as well as a safety net.
Second Base- Scott Sizemore seemingly projects to be the starter at second next season but if last season was an indication of things to come the A’s need to look for some assurance. Sizemore was hurt early in spring training and missed the entire 2012 season. Jemile Weeks struggled mightily and was even optioned to the minor leagues at one point. A low risk option could be former Giant Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is coming off an injury filled tenure in San Francisco and could come on the cheap. Another low risk option could be Orlando Hudson. Hudson was a solid offensive option a couple of seasons ago and would be worth the risk. Grant Green could also be an option as he has played almost every position in the infield in the minor leagues.
Starting Rotation- The A’s should know from experience over the last few seasons that when it rains it pours when it comes to the injury bug. With the departure of Brandon McCarthy via free agency and the trade (albeit uneventful) trade of Graham Godfrey the A’s do not have as much depth as they once did in the rotation. There are always low risk options in the free agent market and Beane likes to add one or two free agent pitchers specifically for depth. Look for him to make a move in this department before spring training starts up.
All in all the A’s entire roster is in pretty good shape considering they usually are in a rebuilding mode. It has been a nice change of pace seeing the bulk of the roster stay intact. With a few small additions (or a big trade) the A’s should be set to possibly contend again in 2013. Music to our ears.