Building rotation is A's top offseason priority

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OAKLAND — It’s that time of the year again when fans get restless about their team’s lack of player movement, but things may starting to heat up for the A’s.

Without a starting pitcher from last season’s primary rotation currently under contract, it’s no secret adding starters is the A’s main area of focus. Patrick Corbin and Nate Eovaldi, two of the top names in this offseason’s free agent class, already signed big deals earlier in the week. The A’s were never serious suitors for either of the two, but the duo signing could set off the market for them to make a move with the plethora of free agent starters still available.

Names like Matt Harvey and Clay Buchholz, two players the A’s have recently been linked to, remain available. Dallas Keuchel would likely command a deal too expensive for the A’s liking, but solid veteran options in Wade Miley and Derek Holland could be had, along with last year’s in-house surprises Trevor Cahill and Edwin Jackson.

But free agency is not the only avenue A’s general manager David Forst is exploring when trying to build a new rotation.

“I think there are a number of starting pitching options out there both through free agency and trade conversation,” Forst said in a conference call with Bay Area media Friday. “Obviously we haven’t made any transactions yet, but it’s not for a lack of conversation and activity.”

Forst mentioned that conversations often heat up at the MLB winter meetings, which begin next week in Las Vegas. Last year’s winter meetings saw the A’s complete a trade for Stephen Piscotty, and it’s likely they’ll be active again this time around.

Though starting pitching is the top priority, second base is also an interesting situation.

The A’s remain open to re-signing All-Star Jed Lowrie, but they do seem to have a plan in place should he find a more lucrative deal elsewhere with Franklin Barreto.

Staying sharp by playing winter ball in Venezuela this offseason, Barreto is off to a nice start, with the Tigres de Aragua, batting .328 over 34 games. More importantly, he’s limiting his strikeout totals, which have been a concern over the past few years, striking out just 18 times with 15 walks through 122 at-bats.

“There are conversations internally about Franklin and what is best for him going forward,” Forst said. “I think we’re gonna explore adding a second baseman, letting Franklin play, finding a platoon partner for him, all those things are on the table. It remains to be seen how we fill that spot.”

Jonathan Lucroy, another key veteran piece from the 2018 playoff run, also remains unsigned. Like the situation at second base, the A’s like the backup options they have at catcher with Josh Phegley and Beau Taylor. Impressive prospect Sean Murphy is also close to big league ready, and the A’s could re-sign Lucroy or another veteran to a short-term deal in anticipation of Murphy’s eventual arrival.

“There are a number of options out there,” Forst said. “We’re trying to balance the internal options with trying to bring somebody in from the outside. There are also trade possibilities, but it’s certainly an area we need to address one way or another.”

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