Diving into the depths: Oakland Athletics

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Dallas Braden
2. Trevor Cahill
3. Brett Anderson
4. Gio Gonzalez
5. Brandon McCarthy
6. Rich Harden
7. Josh Outman
8. Bobby Cramer
9. Tyson Ross
10. Guillermo Moscoso
11. Anthony Capra

The Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour additions would seem to make it more likely that Harden will begin the year in the rotation, but I’m sticking with McCarthy in the fifth slot for now. He’s probably the better pitcher at this point. With the Coliseum aiding and an excellent outfield defense behind him, he could be very good while healthy.

Bullpen
1. Andrew Bailey
2. Brian Fuentes
3. Grant Balfour
4. Craig Breslow
5. Michael Wuertz
6. Brad Ziegler
7. Rich Harden
8. Jerry Blevins
9. Joey Devine
10. Tyson Ross
11. Bobby Cramer
12. Fernando Cabrera
13. Trystan Magnuson
14. Graham Godfrey
15. Vinnie Chulk
16. Mickey Storey
17. Travis Blackley
18. Willie Eyre

I don’t imagine that the A’s will keep all of these guys, but they have some crazy bullpen depth at the moment. Wuertz, Ziegler and Blevins are the best bets to go. The A’s certainly won’t need both Wuertz and Ziegler if Devine looks sharp this spring in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Catcher
1. Kurt Suzuki
2. Landon Powell
3. Josh Donaldson
4. Anthony Recker

First base
1. Daric Barton
2. Conor Jackson
3. Chris Carter
4. Adam Rosales

Second base
1. Mark Ellis
2. Adam Rosales
3. Eric Sogard
4. Andy LaRoche
5. Jemile Weeks

Third base
1. Kevin Kouzmanoff
2. Adam Rosales
3. Andy LaRoche
4. Steven Tolleson
5. Adrian Cardenas

Shortstop
1. Cliff Pennington
2. Adam Rosales
3. Steven Tolleson
4. Grant Green

Third base remains an area of concern after Kouzmanoff’s awful first year in Oakland. The A’s picked up Edwin Encarnacion, only to non-tender him three weeks later. Now they have LaRoche as a potential fallback plan, though he’ll almost certainly play regularly in Triple-A initially. Ideally, Cardenas would step up this year and challenge for the spot if Kouzmanoff falters again. … Tolleson was recently bumped from the 40-man roster, but since it looks like he cleared waivers, he’s an insurance policy on the left side of the infield.

Left field
1. Josh Willingham
2. Conor Jackson
3. Ryan Sweeney
4. Hideki Matsui
5. Chris Carter

Center field
1. Coco Crisp
2. Ryan Sweeney
3. David DeJesus
4. Jai Miller
5. Michael Taylor

Right field
1. David DeJesus
2. Ryan Sweeney
3. Michael Taylor
4. Chris Carter
5. Sean Doolittle

Designated hitter
1. Hideki Matsui
2. Josh Willingham
3. Conor Jackson
4. Chris Carter
5. Sean Doolittle

Hit hard by the injury bug so frequently in recent years, A’s GM Billy Beane has focused on building the deepest team he can, and it really shines through in the outfield and the bullpen. As a result of the Willingham and DeJesus additions, Jackson and Sweeney will be fighting for at-bats as reserves, while Carter and Taylor will both head back to Triple-A. Matsui probably won’t see any outfield time aside from interleague play.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.