Daric Barton

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.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.