A’s Mailbag: Puk’s status, radio deal, Gio Gonzalez reunion?

The A's need starting pitching, and help could be on the way soon

Oakland Athletics pitcher A.J. Puk throws in the bullpen at the Lew Wolff Training Complex during Spring Training workouts for the A’s on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, in Mesa, Ariz. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
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OAKLAND — The A’s are a little over two weeks away from spring training, which means we’re getting close to the Kyler Murray’s arrival to Mesa, Arizona. But how long will he actually stay there?

All eyes will certainly be fixated on the Heisman Trophy winner, eagerly awaiting his decision between football and baseball. I don’t have the answer as to what sport he will choose, but if recent videos making rounds on the internet over the past week featuring Kyler Murray working out with football star Antonio Brown and a football-heavy highlight video posted from Murray’s Twitter account are any hint, things may not be looking good for his future in green and gold.

But enough about Murray, that’ll be something to dissect more thoroughly when the time comes. There are plenty of other non-Kyler questions you’ve submitted this week, and we’ve got some answers in our latest edition of A’s Mailbag.

Question from @As_Fan_Radio: What is the status of A.J. Puk & Jharel Cotton?

Both Puk and Cotton are similar points in their journey back from Tommy John surgery, which makes sense given that both were shut down just ten days apart from each other last March during spring training.

Puk has been going through his rehab process with the A’s training staff down in Arizona this offseason, while Cotton chose to continue his rehab back home in Detroit.

Best case scenario — Puk and Cotton could be looking at a return around July or August. Given the current state of the rotation, having two arms of such high caliber would provide a huge boost down the stretch.

Question from @OptimusPrymTyme: Last year, we signed Anderson, Cahill & Lucroy all after Spring Training had already started. If notable names at SP & catcher remain available, could we see something similar again this year?

With the catcher situation, it’s hard to tell whether or not the A’s will make another move there given the slowness of free agency this offseason. Quality backstops such as Martin Maldonado and Matt Wieters are still on the market, but A’s GM David Forst and Executive Vice President Billy Beane made it clear they’d be comfortable beginning the season with a platoon of Chris Herrmann and Josh Phegley.

As far as pitching goes, Beane also made it clear that the A’s will need to add more depth. You’ve seen that slowly begin with guys like Parker Bridwell, who the A’s claimed off waivers from the Angels earlier in the week. I’d expected a few more of those type of moves in the coming weeks, while they hold out hope for a free agent pitcher like Clay Buchholz or Wade Miley to linger around the market long enough to be signed to an affordable contract ala Cahill/Lucroy last season.

Question from @henryo34567: What have you heard about a new radio deal if any?

Team President Dave Kaval spent a good amount of time on Twitter Thursday night replying to fans who were angry about the lack of radio home for the A’s with the season quickly approaching.

No deal is in place, and I’m not sure if one is really all that close, but Kaval made it clear the A’s plan on having a flagship station along with the option for fans to access a free streaming service to listen to games online.

One thing that is for certain and is sure to make A’s fans happy — Ken Korach and Vince Cotroneo are still expected to be doing their thing together behind the mic, regardless of the station.

Question from @staronson: How much bullpenning are we going to see this year?

You can expect to see it quite a bit.

After the success the Tampa Bay Rays had with it last season, the A’s followed suit by starting Liam Hendriks once through the rotation towards the end of the season. Not only will Hendriks continue in that role, but the A’s may also look for other pitchers to utilize in the same capacity this upcoming season.

“I think we’re used to it and I think you’ll see more of it next year,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said during December’s MLB Winter Meetings. “Depending on who we identify as guys that we need to get innings from, and then maybe if there’s some vulnerability from some other guys, maybe that’s the route we go as far as the opener. I think that is here to stay.”

Question from @CalCheslerKDVS: Could Dustin Fowler and Franklin Barretto be used in a trade for starting pitching?

All options are on the table for both Fowler and Barreto, two promising young players who appear to be blocked at the big league level at the moment.

Though Jurickson Profar has been pegged as the everyday second baseman, I still think the A’s will look for a way to get Barreto somewhat consistent at-bats for Barreto at the big league level this season. After a successful Venezuelan Winter League, it’s about that time the A’s find out what they truly have in him.

Again, a trade is possible for both, but I think the A’s would have to be presented with a quality starter in order to let either go. Starting pitching help through free agency is the more likely option.

Question from @cobradave: Great coverage in the paper and on Twitter! Q: any progress on resigning Khrush? Secondly, have you heard of us possibly locking up anyone besides him?

Davis is under contract for next season as the highest-paid player in A’s history over a season with a salary of $16.5 million. The A’s would love to have Davis for the long-term, and he’s made it clear this is the place he wants to be, but talks of an extension likely won’t heat up until August as the season finale gets closer.

If anyone is going to get an extension soon, it’s likely going to be Davis.

Question from @landomac82: Parker Bridwell, what’s the deal with that? He healthy?

Bridwell returned from elbow surgery last September for the Angels, though the results were not pretty as he was hit hard and ended the year with a 17.55 ERA. It’s no guarantee he even makes the opening day roster, but one year removed from a 10-3 season with a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts, Bridwell adds another arm to the mix of pitchers competing for a spot in the rotation this spring.

Question from @realtorbb: What do you think of bringing Gio Gonzalez back?

If the A’s can get him at a reasonable price, why not?

Gonzalez had an up and down 2018 but pitched very well for the Brewers down the stretch during their playoff run. Given the success the A’s had last year in reuniting with Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson, maybe Gonzalez is next in line. A 33-year-old left-hander who can eat up innings? Gonzalez has to be on the A’s radar.

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