The A’s mostly stood on the sidelines this offseason, watching an exodus of free-agent talent go out the door chasing bigger paychecks. But the Oakland front office finally made some moves on Saturday.
Shortly after a trade sent Khris Davis to the Texas Rangers in a deal centered around Elvis Andrus, the A’s also signed veteran free-agent starter Mike Fiers to a one-year contract, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Alex Coffey first reported citing sources.
Fiers makes sense on a number of fronts for the A’s, who need some rotation insurance for young, unproven arms like Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk. He will provide a sense of continuity for the rotation and will be the elder statesman of the group at 35, staying with the organization that acquired him via trade during the 2018 season.
As it stands now, the A's have six starters on the roster: Fiers, Luzardo, Puk, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas. This move eases the pressure for Puk to come back quickly from his September shoulder surgery while also leaving the possibility for the fire-balling southpaw to move to the back end of the bullpen.
Fiers' reported price tag of $3.5 million falls well within the team’s budget and there won’t have to be a feeling-out process for both sides. Manager Bob Melvin knows exactly what he’s getting in Fiers.
Consistency has been the biggest problem for Fiers, but he still has the ability to flummox the opposition with his controlled and measured approach. He made 11 starts for the A’s last season, going 6-3 with a 4.58 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Fiers continued to have problems with long ball, giving up nine in 59 innings of work and had the lowest strikeout rate (5.4 per nine innings) of his career in 2020.
Despite the downward trending numbers for Fiers last year, this is the path of least resistance when it comes to adding a veteran starter. Fiers voiced his desire to return to Oakland this season, so it seems like a good deal for both sides.