The A's have made their first acquisition of the offseason, claiming left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
McFarland, 30, pitched 56 innings in 51 appearances in the 2019 season, recording an ERA of 4.82 and a 1.63 WHIP. He was much better in 2018, however, going 2-2 with a 2.00 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 72 innings.
In seven career seasons between the Orioles and Diamondbacks, McFarland is 18-14 with a 4.07 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He only has averaged 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings, but his 63 percent ground ball rate is one of the best in baseball. That should make him a good fit in Oakland, with the A's boasting two Gold Glove infielders in Matt Chapman and Matt Olson, along with shortstop finalist Marcus Semien.
McFarland throws a fastball, slider, and changeup, averaging 90 mph, 81 mph, and 82 mph respectively. He has fared much better against left-handed hitters than righties throughout his career, allowing a .662 OPS to the former and an .828 OPS to the latter.
The A's certainly could use some left-handed relief pitching after declining Jake Diekman's option for next season. Meanwhile, fellow southpaw Ryan Buchter is a potential non-tender option.
Of course, McFarland is not guaranteed to end up on Oakland's roster either. The Diamondbacks declined his $1.85 million option for 2020, but he is still eligible for arbitration, where MLB Trade Rumors projects him to get $2.1 million. It's hard to imagine the A's paying that much for a soft-throwing reliever, but perhaps the two sides can agree to a lower salary.
For now, McFarland fills the A's 40-man roster and becomes the team's 13th arbitration-eligible player.