Athletics

A's free agent signing anniversary: Starting pitcher Rich Hill

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AP

A's free agent signing anniversary: Starting pitcher Rich Hill

Three years ago today, the A's signed free agent left-hander Rich Hill to a one-year, $6 million deal.

Hill was 35 at the time and hadn't pitched more than 100 innings since 2007, due in large part to injuries. But the veteran pitched brilliantly for the A's in 2016, going 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 14 starts.

The A's fell out of contention that year and traded Hill to the Dodgers, along with outfielder Josh Reddick, in exchange for Jharel Cotton, Frankie Montas, and Grant Holmes. Hill finished the 2016 season with a 12-5 record and 2.12 ERA.

Not even Billy Beane could have expected the Hill signing to work out as well as it did. The veteran southpaw found a fountain of youth, finally managing to stay healthy for an entire season. Hill has continued his success in Los Angeles the last two seasons, and even now at the age of 38 is a valuable starter in the Dodgers' rotation.

[RELATED: Rich Hill feel-good story]

Even if the Hill signing hadn't worked out for the A's, it was a low-risk, high-reward move. For just one year and $6 million, it was worth taking a chance, knowing they could always move him at the trade deadline, which they ended up doing anyway.

The A's will again look to add starting pitching this offseason and hope to find another under-the-radar starter like Hill. A one-year contract will be preferred, but even a two-year deal could make sense if the price is right.

Another takeaway from the Hill signing is that sometimes age is just a number. Look at the success Edwin Jackson had in Oakland as a 35-year-old. Since the A's already have a surplus of young pitching talent nearing the Major League level, they really just need a couple of veterans to bring stability to the rotation for the next season or two.

We'll see if Beane and David Forst can work their magic again.

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Source: Free agent second baseman Eric Sogard interested in A's return

Having a lefty bat at the second base position continues to be one of the A's main focuses this offseason

That could mean reuniting with Eric Sogard. A source tells NBC Sports California the 34-year-old is open to returning to Oakland.

Sogard, currently a free agent, had an exceptional campaign in 2019 slashing .290/.353/.457 with 13 homers across 110 games with the Blue Jays and the Rays. He was part of the Tampa Bay squad that came to the AL Wild-Card Game in Oakland and celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse.

A's fans remember the outcome of that. 

The second baseman spent six seasons with the A's from 2010-15 where he accumulated a .239 average with eight home runs and 105 RBI. 

The A's traded second baseman Jurickson Profar to the Padres on Dec. 2, so they have a need at the position.

Despite picking up a talented second baseman during Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, the team will still seek a more prominent starter at the position. 

[RELATED: A's are focused on keeping young stars]

The A's reportedly are interested in bringing current Mets second baseman Jed Lowrie back for the third time -- but there are 10 million reasons as to why the Mets wouldn't make a trade.

Did we mention Sogard bats left-handed yet?

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

2019 MLB Rule 5 Draft: A's lose Mark Payton, acquire minor leaguers

As teams headed down south to the Winter Meetings in San Diego, the two main goals for the A's appeared to be finding a left-handed bat at second base, as well as continuing conversations with relief pitchers.

While the A's didn't make any huge acquisitions during the meetings, the 2019 Rule 5 Draft came and went as it does every year. With that, Oakland selected three players in the minor-league phase of the draft and had a couple more transactions as well.

Second baseman Vimael Machin was acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations. He will be competing for a roster spot.

The 26-year-old slashed .295/.390/.412 with seven home runs and 65 RBI across the Double and Triple-A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization last season. 

Jason Krizan was selected from the Mets during the Triple-A phase. The 30-year-old outfielder hit .275 across two teams last season. 

The Athletic's prospect writer Emily Waldon says he's going to be a solid addition to the A's organization.

"His walk rate has always been impressive," Waldon told NBC Sports California. "He doesn't have a ton of swing and misses, with some raw power, with eight to ten home run seasons. He's also a dependable defender with a good veteran presence." Waldon also joked Krizan has "80-grade sarcasm."

The A's also selected catcher Jose Colina, who put up some massive numbers with the Arizona League Indians Blue after signing with Cleveland as a minor-league free agent in June. The 21-year-old slashed .372/.443/.744 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Right-handed pitcher Deivy Mendez rounds the group out. In 25 appearances across Single-A and Short-A last season with the Padres organization, he went 2-1 with six saves and a 4.20 ERA, striking out 33. 

[RELATED: A's interested in acquiring Lowrie for third time]

The Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton, who was claimed off waivers by the A's in December of 2018. Payton was selected during the major league phase of the draft which, according to Waldon, has the A's losing some muscle at the plate.

However, scouts reportedly didn't see the 28-year-old "doing a great deal outside of filling some needs." That power is what has gotten the most talk around Payton. 

Payton took advantage of the PCL last season with Triple-A Las Vegas and slashed .334/.400/.653 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 118 games.