Editor's note: For the past few weeks, NBC Sports California has been analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.
Believe it or not, the A's most expensive free agent signing this offseason was a relief pitcher.
34-year-old Joakim Soria agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with Oakland last month and figures to be a setup man for Blake Treinen.
Last year, Soria went 3-4 with 16 saves, a 3.12 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP in 66 games between the White Sox and Brewers. He notched 75 strikeouts against 16 walks in 60 2/3 innings.
Soria has a career ERA of 2.88 in 11 seasons, averaging better than a strikeout per inning. His best years came in Kansas City from 2007-10 when he made two All-Star Games and maintained a sub-three ERA for four straight seasons.
Soria throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, and he still produces a high swing-and-miss rate. One baseball evaluator told NBC Sports California that he had Soria ranked right behind Craig Kimbrel and David Robertson among free agent relievers and considered the deal a bargain for Oakland.
Baseball Reference predicts Soria to go 3-4 with six saves, a 3.84 ERA, and 1.28 WHIP next season. They project 65 strikeouts and 21 walks in 61 innings.
We think Soria will greatly benefit from playing in Oakland, both due to the Coliseum's dimensions and the A's terrific infield defense. At 34 years old, he should still have something left in the tank and we expect him to put together a phenomenal season.
Projection: 5-2, 2.81 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 73 K, 18 BB, 63 IP