With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Athletics squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
MESA, Ariz. -- The A's return to the field this week when pitchers and catchers hold their first workout Wednesday, offering an early glimpse at what could be the strength of this club.
The A's have long prided themselves as a pitching-rich organization, and this year is no exception. Ace Sonny Gray and Kendall Graveman will have exciting company behind them: Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton are expected to slot in the third and fourth spots, while Andrew Triggs is considered the favorite for the fifth rotation spot.
Come Sunday, workouts will include position players, including a handful of newcomers who should shore up the lineup. The A's didn't make any splashy moves this winter, but they have potential to be impactful.
Early projections haven't been kind to the A's. They're expected to finish in last place in the American League West for a third consecutive season. But expectations are higher within the confines of the clubhouse, where the A's believe they can reverse their fortune.
What follows is a glance at the Spring Training picture as camp opens.
Pitchers and catchers report: Tuesday
Position players report: Saturday
First Cactus League game: Away vs. Cubs on Feb. 25 at 12:05 p.m. PT
The lineup has been patched up with three additions: center fielder Rajai Davis, reunited with the A's on a one-year deal, gives them a leadoff hitter; right fielder Matt Joyce, signed to a two-year deal, has a career .341 on-base percentage; and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who inked a one-year deal, has consistently shown solid pop from the right side of the plate. In addition, the bullpen was bolstered with the signing of veteran right-hander Santiago Casilla, who gives manager Bob Melvin a fourth closer option.
Interesting non-roster invitee
Veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza will be in camp after signing a Minor League deal with the A's and can reportedly earn $1.75 million if he cracks the big league roster. The 32-year-old struggled with the Mets in the first half last year, before turning in a .237/.348/.381 slash line in his final 164 plate appearances.