Grading Oakland A's 2019 Opening Day 25-man roster by position group

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Ben Ross
Following a last-minute trade, here's a look at the A's 25-man roster heading into Opening Day.
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Grading Oakland A's 2019 Opening Day 25-man roster by position group originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

The A's head into Thursday's home opener against the Angels sitting at 0-2, already with injuries to slugger Matt Olson and top pitching prospect Jesús Luzardo. But they're still optimistic about getting back to the postseason after a 97-win campaign in 2018.

The A's haven't officially announced their 25-man roster, but based on what we already know, we can piece the team together.

Here's how the Opening Day roster will look, following Wednesday's acquisition of Kendrys Morales

Catchers: Nick Hundley, Josh Phegley
Infielders: Matt Chapman, Marcus Semien, Jurickson Profar, Kendrys Morales
Outfielders: Robbie Grossman, Ramón Laureano, Stephen Piscotty, Khris Davis
Utility: Chad Pinder, Mark Canha
Starting pitchers: Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, Frankie Montas, Aaron Brooks
Relief pitchers: Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino, Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Ryan Buchter, Yusmeiro Petit, Liam Hendriks, J.B. Wendelken

The A's also have several key players who will open the season on the injured list, including Matt Olson, Sean Manaea, and Jesús Luzardo. But in the meantime, we grade each position group on the active roster:

Catchers: C

Nick Hundley and Josh Phegley are both serviceable major league catchers and figure to split time behind the plate. Hundley has the better bat, but Phegley has the edge defensively.

Last season with the Giants, Hundley slashed .241/.298/.408 with 10 home runs and 31 RBI in 96 games. Phegley's slash line was just .204/.255/.344 in 39 games as Jonathan Lucroy's backup.

Chris Herrmann will join the mix later this season when he returns from his knee injury. He posted a .237/.322/.421 slash line last season in 36 games with the Mariners.

Infielders: A-

Even with the injury to Matt Olson, the A's infield boasts loads of talent. Matt Chapman leads the way as arguably the best all-around third baseman in baseball and a possible MVP candidate.

Jurickson Profar and Marcus Semien form a solid double-play duo up the middle and both have some pop at the plate. Kendrys Morales and Mark Canha figure to get most of the action at first base until Olson returns, while Chad Pinder could also see some action on the infield.

This is a young and talented group with massive upside, both offensively and defensively. 

Outfielders: A-

We'll include Khris Davis in this group, even though he's obviously a DH most of the time. The 31-year-old has posted more than 40 home runs and 100 RBI in three straight seasons and there's no reason to believe he won't make it four in a row.

Stephen Piscotty also appears poised for a huge year after a breakout season in 2018. The 28-year-old hit .267/.331/.491 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI, doing most of his damage in the second half of the season.

Robbie Grossman will be the A's primary leadoff hitter against right-handed pitchers. Last season in Minnesota, he slashed .273/.367/.384. Ramón Laureano could also see some time in the leadoff spot against southpaws.

Starting pitchers: C-

On paper, this is the clear weakness of the team. Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson are both coming off disappointing seasons, while Frankie Montas and Aaron Brooks are still trying to establish themselves as reliable major league pitchers.

That leaves Mike Fiers as the A's No. 1 starter. Fiers pitched well for Oakland last season after coming over from Detroit. The 33-year-old went 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 10 games with the A's, but he has never been a No. 1 starter before.

Oakland won't ask its starters to pitch deep into games, but even five solid innings could be a challenge.

[RELATED: Seven A's prospects who could reach the majors in 2019]

Relief pitchers: A

The bullpen was a major strength of the A's last season and that should be the case again this year. All-Star closer Blake Treinen is coming off one of the best seasons in MLB history. The 30-year-old went 9-2 with 38 saves and a ludicrous 0.78 ERA, recording 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings.

The A's will use Lou Trivino, Joakim Soria, and Fernando Rodney as their primary setup relievers, but the depth doesn't end there. J.B. Wendelken, Ryan Buchter, Liam Hendriks, and Yusmeiro Petit are all highly capable in their own right.

Last season, the A's were an incredible 70-2 when leading after seven innings, thanks in large part to a dominant bullpen. That pen looks just as good this year.