Athletics

MLB free agency: Nathan Eovaldi fit Red Sox price range, but not A's

MLB free agency: Nathan Eovaldi fit Red Sox price range, but not A's

The Hot Stove is starting to leave simmer and we can finally feel the heat. This free agency, it's started with pitching. And the second piece to the puzzle is Nathan Eovaldi. 

After becoming a postseason hero, Eovaldi is returning to the Red Sox, according to multiple national reports. The two sides have agreed to a four-year, $67.5 million deal, according to Mark Feinsand. 

For all he did in the Boston's World Series run, Eovaldi clearly placed himself outside of the A's and many others' price range. Between the Rays and Red Sox, Eovaldi went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA, but then in 22 1/3 innings during the playoffs, he allowed just four earned runs. 

Perhaps no other team in baseball needs starting pitching more than the A's. Oakland essentially has no starting rotation right now -- that's not an exaggeration -- but now they can see how much top arms are costing teams. 

Patrick Corbin cost the Nationals $140 million and the Red Sox are paying Eovaldi, who has already had Tommy John surgery twice, just under $70 million. The A's are already in talks with bringing back Trevor Cahill, which won't take a big chunk out of their wallet.

After surprising everyone last season, Billy Beane has made it clear starting pitching is his No. 1 target this offseason. Does that mean taking a long look at Dallas Keuchel now that Corbin and Eovaldi are gone? 

The Red Sox are primed to make a repeat run, and if the A's want to build off last season, they're going to have to get serious about starting pitchers. 

A's expect recent acquisition Tanner Anderson to help in rotation

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Athletics PR/Twitter

A's expect recent acquisition Tanner Anderson to help in rotation

As the A's continue their search for starting pitching, they believe they may have found an under-the-radar option in a recent trade.

Oakland acquired 25-year-old right-hander Tanner Anderson from the Pirates last month in exchange for 18-year-old righty Wilkin Ramos.

Anderson spent most of last season in Triple-A where he went 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA and six saves in 39 relief appearances. In six Major League games, he was 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA.

Until last year, however, Anderson was a starting pitcher. In 2017, he made 19 starts in Double-A, going 10-8 with a 3.38 ERA. The A's would like him to be a starter once again.

"I told him to get ready as a starter," said general manager David Forst. "I'd like to think he could do that. If not, he's a guy who can go two, three, four innings at a time. He said he sees himself as a guy who can turn the lineup over more than once, so that could prove to be valuable."

[RELATED: A's, Edwin Jackson not close on negotiations]

If nothing else, we know Anderson is smart. He graduated from Harvard in 2015 and was selected by Pittsburgh in the 20th round of the MLB Draft.

Anderson is not a strikeout pitcher, but he does induce a high percentage of ground balls, with almost three times as many grounders as fly balls throughout his career. He features a low-to-mid 90s sinker as well as a mid-80s slider and does a great job limiting walks.

Even if Anderson doesn't earn a spot in Oakland's starting rotation, he could be a perfect candidate to pitch multiple innings in "opener" games. The A's love his versatility and, at the very least, he provides a backup plan for the rotation in the case of injuries.

Source: Edwin Jackson, A's not on same page in contract negotiations

Source: Edwin Jackson, A's not on same page in contract negotiations

The A's met with representatives for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson last week at the MLB Winter Meetings, but according to a source, the two sides are not close on potential salary figures.

Jackson, 35, would like to return to Oakland, but he also has drawn interest from about seven other teams, including the Mets, Reds and Blue Jays. The right-hander is coming off a phenomenal bounce-back season, in which he went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 17 starts. The A's compiled a record of 14-3 in those starts.

Most industry insiders believe Jackson is worth between $6 million and $8 million on a one-year contract, but Oakland has not yet come close to either of those numbers. Jackson might be willing to accept a slight discount to return to the A's, but he likely won't want to lower the market for other free-agent pitchers.

For reference, the Detroit Tigers recently signed right-hander Tyson Ross to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million in base salary and another $250,000 in easy incentives. Ross, 31, went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP last season, all significantly worse than Jackson's 2018 stats.

The Yankees signed left-hander CC Sabathia to a one-year, $8 million contract earlier this offseason. Sabathia, 38, went 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.31 WHIP last year.

While Jackson might have benefited from pitching in Oakland at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum, his ERA actually was slightly better on the road. Overall, he limited opposing batters to a .227 batting average.

Much of Jackson's value also came in the clubhouse, where he quickly became one of the veteran leaders on the A's. He is widely considered one of the best personalities in baseball and an unselfish teammate.

The A's concern could lie in Jackson's limited innings last season. He threw just 92 frames at the big league level after starting the year in Triple A, and he has not thrown more than 100 innings since 2014.

[RELATED: A's in no hurry to sign starting pitchers]

It remains to be seen if the A's can come to terms with Jackson, but they do have some other options. Oakland reportedly has shown interest in a handful of free-agent starters, including Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholz and Shelby Miller.

One way or another, the A's figure to add at least two more starting pitchers by the start of the season.