Athletics

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

The 2019 A's starting rotation will probably look a lot different than it did at the end of 2018. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson are all unrestricted free agents, and Mike Fiers is up for arbitration.

While the A's do have some reinforcements within the organization, they could certainly benefit from a shrewd free agent signing or two. Obviously, Oakland won't be in the running for the top big-money free agents, ruling out pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ, but here are five options that could be in their price range.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi put together a strong 2018 between Tampa Bay and Boston. The right-hander went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 22 appearances, including 21 starts. In seven career seasons, he has compiled a 4.16 ERA.

Eovaldi earned just $2 million this season, and while he figures to get more than that next year, he should still be affordable for a team like the A's. At the age of 28, he is right in his prime and could provide a strong veteran presence for Oakland.

[ROSS: Looking ahead to bright future]

Clay Buchholz

Buchholz pitched brilliantly in 17 starts with the Diamondbacks this season. The 34-year-old turned back the clock, going 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. In 12 big league seasons, Buchholz has a 3.86 ERA.

The Diamondbacks only paid Buchholz $1.5 million for his services in 2018 and as he approaches the age of 35, he likely won't get much more next season. The two-time All-Star could prove to be a nice under-the-radar signing for a team like Oakland.

Jeremy Hellickson

After a rough 2017, Jeremy Hellickson bounced back this season with the Nationals. The right-hander went 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 17 starts for Washington. He has a 4.07 career ERA in nine Major League seasons.

Hellickson only earned a base salary of $2 million this year and should be affordable. The 31-year-old could provide the A's with another reliable veteran starter for a reasonable price.

[RATTO: Why this is a big offseason]

Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross, a Berkeley native and former A, went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 games this season, including 23 starts. The former All-Star began the year with the Padres, before being shipped to the Cardinals at the trade deadline. After joining St. Louis, Ross posted a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old right-hander earned a base salary of $1.75 million in 2018, and doesn't figure to get a whole lot more next season. As a hometown pitcher, Ross would certainly fit into the A's “Rooted in Oakland” campaign, and he could add some depth to the rotation.

CC Sabathia

Speaking of hometown pitchers, Vallejo native CC Sabathia could be a terrific signing at the age of 38. The left-hander showed he still has something in the tank in his 18th season, going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts with the Yankees.

Sabathia made $10 million in 2018, but maybe he would take a hometown discount to play for the A's in his 19th big league season. It makes a lot of sense for both sides, as Sabathia would get another chance to play for a playoff contender before he retires, while Oakland would get a six-time All-Star and fan favorite.

Khris Davis is hoping to stay with the A's for 'at least three more years'

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Khris Davis is hoping to stay with the A's for 'at least three more years'

Khris Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but if he has his way, he'll remain in Oakland for years to come.

"I want to stay here at least three more years," Davis told the Associated Press and other reporters Sunday in Arizona. "I’d like to be here. I hope something gets done."

Davis, 31, agreed to a $16.5 million salary for this year to arbitration. He has previously expressed his desire to sign a long-term deal with the A's, and Oakland general manager David Forst has confirmed that discussions are ongoing.

"We've had more multi-year conversations with Khris," Forst said last month. "He knows that it's continuing."

Last season, Davis led all of baseball with 48 home runs and ranked second with 123 RBI. His 133 homers over the last three years also led the MLB. But Davis has taken notice of the slow free agent markets the last two offseasons, with stars like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still unsigned into spring training.

"It’s not a good thing being a free agent right now," Davis told reporters. "For my security, it’s going to impact a lot. That’s the way the business is. I’m already 31 so I don’t know if I’m too old."

Davis also knows the way the A's tend to operate, and if they fall out of contention this season, there's a chance he could get traded. That's just more motivation for him to lead the team back to the playoffs.

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“I don’t think they’ll trade me as long as we’re doing good," he told reporters. "So we better do good so I don’t get traded.”

Of course, Davis' value goes far beyond the numbers. His presence in the cleanup position impacts the entire lineup. When he missed nine games last May due to injury, the A's went 3-6, scoring a total of 15 runs. That's not a coincidence.

Davis has also become a tremendous leader in the clubhouse, not to mention a fan favorite, and despite all of his accolades, he has never had an ego. Talk about a perfect fit for Oakland. The A's would be wise to get a multi-year deal done as soon as possible.

Rickey Henderson wanted to play for Raiders, but A's wouldn't let him

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Rickey Henderson wanted to play for Raiders, but A's wouldn't let him

This isn't the A's first go-around with a two-sport star.

Long before Kyler Murray spurned Oakland in favor of pursuing his NFL dreams, Rickey Henderson had ideas of starring on both the baseball diamond and football field.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Henderson had the approval of Raiders owner Al Davis to play for the Oakland football team, but the A's shut it down.

"When Bo Jackson first came into the league, I went to Al Davis to go play football and he was going to let me be a two-way player,” Henderson said. “The Oakland A’s said, ‘Oh, no way. You’re not going out there. That’s not going to happen.’

"That was my chance and I missed it," Henderson continued. "I always used to tell Bo (Jackson) and Deion Sanders, ‘I could have done that, played both sports, but the A’s said they weren’t going to let me.’ That was my dream."

Henderson, who is serving as a visiting instructor for the A's at spring training, was looking forward to spending some time with Murray, but he doesn't blame the reigning Heisman Trophy winner for pursuing a career as a professional quarterback.

"It’s always a tough choice,” Henderson said of the two-sport predicament. “It’s really what you love, and his love really was football. People try to compare his decision and my decision, but mine was different. I came out of high school and I had time to grow in baseball and he came out of college, he didn’t have as much time with baseball."

Henderson won't be working with Murray this spring, but he's not ruling it out altogether. He sees Murray's decision to pursue an NFL career now as coming with some theoretical insurance, and remember, the A's retain his rights.

[RELATED: As Murray chooses NFL, A's 'don't regret the pick at all']

"So he can see if it works out with his love, and if not, he can fall back on baseball."

Surely, Murray is hoping things work out for him in the NFL. But if not, perhaps baseball is where he's supposed to be.

Despite his dreams, that certainly proved to be the case for the Man of Steal.