Inbox: Who will A's promote from Minors?

Beat reporter Jane Lee answers questions from Oakland fans

Inbox: Who will A's promote from Minors?

Who's next in line in the Minors to join the A's this year?
-- Christine S., San Jose, Calif.

Jharel Cotton is the easy choice, and he's probably the correct one. Cotton flirted with a perfect game in his second start for Triple-A Nashville last week, quickly impressing his newest employers. And with the A's trying to get by with a makeshift rotation at the moment, following a slew of injuries and the trade of Rich Hill (in the same deal as Cotton), it would make sense for them to turn to Cotton the next time they're in need of a starting arm.

How do you see the rotation shaping up next season? Will Sonny Gray be a part of it?
-- Troy D., Las Vegas

There's no doubt Gray will still have a ton of value this offseason, especially considering how weak the starting-pitching market will be, so this very well could be the offseason that sees him depart Oakland. The A's have plenty of young pitching in tow, not even including likely holdovers such as Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn and rehabbing Tommy John patient Chris Bassitt. This group -- combined with young arms Daniel Mengden, Dillon Overton and Cotton -- could have Oakland in a good position, from a pitching standpoint, even without Gray.

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What's the long-term plan at second base? If they stick with Chad Pinder, where does Jed Lowrie fit in the mix?
-- Jon B., Fresno, Calif.

Time will tell. Because Pinder's opportunity at the big league level came sooner than expected in the wake of Lowrie's injury, he now has the chance to make his mark at the position and make the A's at least consider dealing Lowrie, a free agent after 2017, in the offseason.

Pinder's solo home run

It's also very likely the A's will enter next season with both on hand. These things have a way of working themselves out.

Will Billy Butler be on the 2017 roster?
-- Chris S., Castro Valley, Calif.

Butler's contract says he will, but it's more complex than that. Should he keep pace with his performance of late and finish the second half strong, the A's could look for a trade partner willing to take on the remaining money owed Butler, whose three-year, $30 million contract expires at the end of the 2017 season.

Another possibility: Butler could simply be released, forcing Oakland to eat those dollars. The likelihood of this scenario unfolding will depend on other personnel moves made during the offseason and how the roster develops.

After a slow start to the season while familiarizing himself with an unfamiliar platoon role, Butler has seemingly found his groove at the plate, contributing just the way the A's envisioned when they signed him. Still, he remains limited in his ability, providing little on defense, and if the club really wants to surge ahead with a youth movement, removing Butler from the roster makes the most sense.

Davis' two-run homer

How many home runs do you think Khris Davis will finish with this year? And how many do you think he's capable of hitting in the future?
-- Bruce A., Tracy, Calif.

I'll say 38 this season, with the potential for 40-plus in the coming years.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.