A few hours after I published my article yesterday, reporter Jon Morosi claimed that the A’s were close to re-signing pitcher Mike Fiers.
It’s not been officially confirmed as yet, but all signs point to this being a done deal, with the rumours saying that the contract is worth $14m-15m. That’s about what you’d expect to pay for an average starter on the free agent market so, as with the Joakim Soria contract, it feels like the A’s have set realistic targets and been able to get some good business done.
Fiers is no superstar and even the Coliseum can’t take away too much from his homer-prone nature. He gave up 32 longballs in 2018, the same as Bartolo Colon and Jakob Junis, with only James Shields (34) and Dylan Bundy (41!) giving up more in the Majors. However, even with the homers he was able to provide solid innings for the Tigers and A’s last year, as he had for the Brewers and Astros previously.
I mentioned yesterday that the impact of the A’s rotation in 2018 wasn’t one of a great strength, but doing enough to hold up its end whilst the bullpen, batting line-up and fielding did the rest. That’s likely to to be the plan for 2019 too and Fiers fits well into that.
My statement yesterday that the team needed 2 or 3 starting pitchers can come down to 1 or 2. I neglected to mention top prospect Jesus Lazardo solely because this time last year our hopes were high for A.J. Puk only for his elbow to go ping. Health depending, the Opening Day rotation group will be joined at some point by Lazardo and he could make a real impact in the second half of the season.
Another addition to a comment I made yesterday concerns our catcher options. Jon Heyman’s latest MLB notes column contained the following:
The A’s offered catcher Jonathan Lucroy a one-year deal for about $4M, but Lucroy has been hoping not to take a pay cut from the $6.5M he made last year. He did a nice job working with the A’s young pitchers last year, which is why they want him back
I had questioned whether the signing of Chris Hermann meant that the A’s were set at catcher. Whilst we may have moved on, there were so many positive comments by the A’s Front Office, Bob Melvin and Lucroy about the relationship as the season came to a close that it’s possible the lines of communication have been kept open. If Lucroy doesn’t receive a more lucrative contract offer by early February then a compromise might be reached and he may be back. One to keep an eye on, at least.