A's pivot during '16, usher in youth movement

Healy, young arms provide a glimpse of Oakland's future

A's pivot during '16, usher in youth movement

OAKLAND -- Slowed by poor play and injuries, the A's stumbled to the finish line for a second straight season, their disappointing performance of 2015 stuck on repeat.

Buried quickly after a sluggish start, the A's never found their groove; losing streaks lasted too long, winning streaks were too short. By the midpoint of the season, they were left staring down a familiar path. Armed with a pair of big trade chips, the A's dealt both -- sending longtime outfielder Josh Reddick and veteran starter Rich Hill to the Dodgers in exchange for three pitchers.

The trade hurried along a youth movement that largely defined the A's second half and provided some of the brighter spots in an otherwise disappointing campaign -- including the rise of rookie third baseman Ryon Healy. Fellow rookies Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton had dominant stretches on the mound, standing out among a slew of youngsters who made their big league debuts.

A's transition period will continue in 2017

Healy's solo home run

Memorable moments proved few and far between for others, though. For the first time in his career, right-hander Sonny Gray succumbed to a prolonged period of struggles and never quite found a fix -- his season twice interrupted by injury, to boot.

The disabled list became far too popular a spot for many other A's players, too, largely contributing to another season gone awry.

Record: 69-93, fifth place, American League West

Defining moment: The Aug. 1 trade of Reddick and Hill reflected a shift in focus toward the future, as the A's acknowledged the reality of their place in the standings. Though very similar to the flurry of deals that signaled the white flag in 2015, this move felt different -- involving a fan favorite in Reddick, who had hoped to ink a contract extension with the club. Another longtime member of the team, outfielder Coco Crisp, was also gone by the time the calendar flipped to September, traded to the Indians.

What went right: The midseason youth movement offered a glimpse of the fledgling talent residing in the A's system. Healy's unexpected emergence from the Double-A level offered one of the better stories of the season, as did the September introduction of Cotton -- one of three pitchers acquired in the deal that sent Reddick and Hill to the Dodgers. Manaea also showed promise with an encouraging second half, while fellow youngsters Joey Wendle and Bruce Maxwell impressed at the plate.

Cotton's excellent start

What went wrong: Good health eluded the A's and, by season's end, they had used the disabled list an Oakland-record 27 times. The rotation was arguably hit the hardest: Chris Bassitt and Felix Doubront both succumbed to Tommy John surgery, and Jarrod Parker (elbow) and Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) never threw a pitch. Hill, sidelined first by a groin issue and then by a nagging blister, was on the disabled list when he was traded to the Dodgers. Gray, Manaea and Jesse Hahn also spent time on the DL.

The team's performance subsequently suffered, and that wasn't all. The A's clubhouse chemistry was also brought into question, when Danny Valencia and the since-released Billy Butler were involved in an altercation that put Butler on the 7-day concussion DL.

Biggest surprise: Gray's season-long woes could not have been predicted, nor could they be explained. The right-hander, who just a year ago finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting, was baffled by his repeated struggles. The A's can at least be encouraged by the fact Gray enters the offseason healthy and can only hope his forgettable 2016 campaign was nothing more than an anomaly.

Hitter of the Year: Khris Davis' production cannot be overstated -- particularly when considering the challenges that come with playing half a season's worth of games in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. That didn't matter to Davis, who became the first A's player to join the 40-homer club since Jason Giambi in 2000. No ballpark could hold Davis, who continually wowed with his opposite-field power and mesmerizing moonshots.

Davis joins select A's company

Pitcher of the Year: No pitcher proved more reliable than right-hander Kendall Graveman, who became the club's de facto ace amid Gray's ongoing struggles and health concerns. The right-handed Graveman was the only pitcher who stayed in the rotation all season, giving the A's stability every fifth day. He consistently pitched into the seventh inning, acting as an anchor to an ever-changing rotation that was mostly filled with rookies by September.

Graveman's scoreless start

Rookie of the Year: Healy, the boisterous third baseman brought aboard July 15, invigorated the A's with his energetic play and robust production down the stretch. Making a swift adjustment to Major League pitching, Healy's bat couldn't be contained at times -- and his offensive numbers in the second half rivaled those of any player in the league. This begs the question: If the Yankees' Gary Sanchez is being considered for AL Rookie of the Year honors, despite only spending a portion of the season in the Majors, shouldn't Healy warrant inclusion in the discussion, as well?

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