2015 was an unmitigated disaster for the Oakland Athletics. They had a team that looked ready to compete for the wild card when the season began and had a positive run differential as late as the middle of the season. By the trade deadline, the Athletics were moving every piece they had in hopes of retooling for 2016.
2015 for the Athletics began with the trade of Josh Donaldson. A year later the team has traded Brett Lawrie away and waived Sean Nolin, the supposed two key pieces of the deal. Kendall Graveman, meanwhile, started 21 games for the Athletics in 2015 and is slated to start behind Sonny Gray again this season. Since the end of the season, the Athletics have done even more to try to reset for 2016 and they have done a lot.
They have added Yonder Alonso to play first base and Jed Lowrie to replace Eric Sogard at second. They have signed high-reward, low-risk starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez to fight for a spot at the back end of a strong rotation. Perhaps most notably, they have rebuilt their bullpen by adding Ryan Madson, Liam Hendricks, John Axford and Marc Rzepczynski. Another upgrade will be that Danny Valencia will be in Oakland for a whole season. The most interesting addition is Khris Davis, who just came over from the Milwaukee Brewers. He will be sharing time in left and at DH.
The Athletics’ front office has earned high praise for their efforts this offseason. In any other division this many upgrades would forecast to a run at a wild card game. In this division, it’s good for a nice improvement and a record of 81-81.