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Oakland Athletics: New Year, New Team

Oakland Athletics: New Year, New Team Image via Sportsgraphics36

MLB

Oakland Athletics

Not to long ago, the Oakland Athletics were one of the most competitive teams in all of baseball and especially in the American League. In 2012 and 2013, they were AL West Champions and followed that up with a second place finish in 2014 to earn a Wild Card spot. Since then the team has taken a completely different path, landing them in last place and less than 70 wins. The 2017 Athletics, as well as many other teams in Major League Baseball, are just looking to get out there and win some games.


Off-Season Moves:

The Oakland Athletics have been dormant this off-season when it comes to making big deals, but instead have manufactured a ton of small deals to bolster their minor league system in hopes of a future turnaround for this franchise. With that said, they have made some moves that will impact the look of the roster this upcoming season.

In early November, Oakland traded third baseman Danny Valencia to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Paul Blackburn. Valencia will be missed by the team as he was a productive utility player during his time in the Bay Area. Blackburn has yet to appear in the majors. In the minor leagues, he has a 29-17 record with a 3.23 ERA.

Right before the month concluded, the Athletics signed free agent right fielder Matt Joyce. The deal is worth a reported $11 million, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Joyce could be very beneficial to the A’s as he has a range of skills that will come in clutch throughout the season. Last season, he had a career best .403 on base percentage. His experience coming off the bench and doing whatever it takes to get on base will prove to be handy for a team who struggled to get on base last season.

The A’s began 2017 with the signing of Rajai Davis who had previously played for the defending American League Champion Cleveland Indians. He will be remembered for his game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth in Game 7 of the World Series. Davis will takeover the starting role in center field alongside Khris Davis in left and Joyce in right.

The Athletics followed that deal up with the signing of free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe. He will relieve Ryon Healy of that role. Plouffe only appeared in 84 games last season because of a series of injuries that plagued him throughout the year. He batted .260 while hitting 12 home runs and driving in 47 runs.

Most recently, the Oakland Athletics signed free agent reliever Santiago Casilla. Casilla began his career with the Athletics, but before that, he spent the last seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He was a key contributor in the Giants bullpen when they won the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series.

Expectations For 2017:

Not much is going to be expected this upcoming season. They haven’t made enough moves to put them in the same discussions as the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, etc., but also have a lot to work with which doesn’t put them out of the discussion for a possible Wild Card run.

Khris Davis and Marcus Semien had stellar 2016 campaigns and Oakland is looking for them to continue it this season. Khris Davis was tied for fourth in home runs with a career high 42, and also drove in 102 Athletic batters. Marcus Semien also set career highs in home runs (27) and runs batted in (75). Despite some of the hit leaders on their team, they have low averages and need to decrease their strikeout totals.

The A’s are looking for a huge bounce back year from their ace Sonny Gray. Gray struggled in 2016 and is ready to redeem himself in 2017. He started 22 games last season, going 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA. The two seasons prior, he had back-to-back 14 win seasons with sub 3.10 ERA’s. If the season doesn’t go well, look for him to be traded away to a contender such as the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, etc.

Summary:

Oakland has a lot of work on their hands, and will be spending 2017 constructing a master plan on what needs to be done for them to bring home a World Series title that they have not seen in 28 years.