Having taken care of their second base vacancy by trading for Jurickson Profar, and adding yet another former closer to the back end of their bullpen in Joakim Soria, the Oakland Athletics have finally gotten to work on that pesky starting pitching rotation.
One day after the flurry of moves that brought in Profar and Soria, the A’s reportedly are close to signing free agent right-hander Mike Fiers to a two-year deal worth between$14 million and $15 million, according to Jon Morosi of the MLB Network.
Fiers was non-tendered by the A’s after going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA after he was acquired after the trade deadline, but the eight-year veteran proved to be such a steady influence that Oakland will begin its rotation reconstruction with him.
“There are free agent options and there are trade conversations and ultimately, we recognize the need is there for starting pitching,” general manager David Forst said on Friday in a conference call with local reporters, before the Fiers news broke. “We also had a need for a second baseman, and we wanted to add a reliever. We’re kind of working on all these things at the same time. We’re going to have to be creative in how we manage games and how we get nine innings out of our staff.”
The would-be ace of that staff, Sean Manaea, underwent shoulder surgery in September after pitching with discomfort — due to chronic shoulder impingements — for the last two seasons. The arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, repaired his labrum and cut down part of the bone in Manaea’s shoulder in order to give him more joint space. He’s likely out for the year.
The (healthy) rotation options under club control at this point are Fiers, Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas, Paul Blackburn, Chris Bassitt, Aaron Brooks, Tanner Anderson and Grant Holmes.
Mengeden returned from a foot injury last season and was exclusively used as a bulk man following an opener. Andrew Triggs, another starting option, is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.
Jharel Cotton is coming off of Tommy John, as are prospects A.J. Puk, Daniel Gossett and Daulton Jefferies. James Kaprielian threw with the A’s instructional league team after recovering from Tommy John surgery and a shoulder injury. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed former Oakland starter Trevor Cahill to a one-year, $9 million deal, and Shawn Kelley and Edwin Jackson have yet to re-sign with the club.
After being acquired from the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 6, after the non-waiver traded deadline, Fiers appeared in 10 games, throwing 53.0 innings for a staff which, at that point, had already seen 12 different pitchers start games. His fielding independent ERA was 4.93, but defense from Matt Olson at first, Matt Chapman at third, Marcus Semien at short and now Profar at second should help keep his actual ERA in check (he has a 4.35 career FIP, and a 4.04 career ERA).
Fiers struck out 8.8 batters per nine innings, and had a 4.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio with Oakland, far better than his career 3.10 mark. Baseball reference projects a 10-9 season next year, when Fiers will turn 34, with a 4.22 ERA, 139 strikeouts and a 2.84 strikeout-to-walk ratio.