Youth movement to continue for A's this winter

Rebuilding A's expected to be conservative with offseason deals

Youth movement to continue for A's this winter

OAKLAND -- The A's offseason is predominantly expected to be a continuation of a youth movement that started at midseason.

The team has a solid young core that includes Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chad Pinder, Ryon Healy and Franklin Barreto -- hitters that made it one of the best offensive teams in the American League in the second half.

With the rise of these prospects, it's easy to envision the A's contending sooner rather than later. But the club, having pledged to a full-bore rebuild this year, will likely be conservative in its approach to winter wheeling and dealing.

A's spent 2017 rebuilding on, off field

Biggest needs

1. Starting pitching: The A's rotation depth is largely depleted, leaving them in search of help, while buying time for prospects like A.J. Puk and Grant Holmes to join them. They've been known to target affordable veterans on the free-agent market, and adding at least one would complement a young group of options that includes Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Paul Blackburn, Jharel Cotton, Daniel Gossett, Daniel Mengden and Chris Bassitt.

Possible FA fits: Doug Fister, Andrew Cashner, Scott Feldman, Trevor Cahill

Gray areas

1. Bullpen: Bullpen collapses were all too routine for the A's this year. The midseason acquisitions of closer Blake Treinen and setup man Chris Hatcher helped shore up a group that lost veterans Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to a trade with Washington, but there's still work to be done to fix what was one of the club's weakest links -- a project that will continue in the offseason.

2. Center field: It wasn't long ago that the A's center-field situation was dire. Today, it remains fluid, but there are suddenly several options. Just how it plays out will present one of the more intriguing storylines entering Spring Training. Dustin Fowler, acquired in the Sonny Gray trade, is considered the favorite, if fully recovered from his knee surgery. But the A's also have Boog Powell, Pinder, Jake Smolinski and Mark Canha to consider, along with prospects Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

X-factors

1. Bring back Jed Lowrie? At this point, it seems all but certain the A's will exercise Lowrie's club option for 2018 following one of his most productive seasons yet. But will they turn around and deal this versatile asset? It was always assumed such a scenario would play out at the Trade Deadline this year, opening up a spot for top prospect Barreto, but Lowrie stayed put. Deciding what to do now will help clarify 2018 plans for Barreto.

2. Deal others? Lowrie isn't the only possible trade piece. The A's could consider trading Khris Davis or Healy in an effort to continue stockpiling young talent. Both players are expendable, and either would net a considerable return. Just something to consider.

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.