The A's have been active ahead of the trade deadline, as they traded for Kansas City Royals reliever Jake Diekman on Saturday. That move came less than two weeks after Oakland acquired Kansas City starting pitcher Homer Bailey, but the club still might add arms in the lead-up to the July 31 deadline.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday that the A's "have explored adding another starting pitcher," and their list includes Reds righty Tanner Roark and Mets righty Zack Wheeler.
#Athletics do not figure to stop with Diekman and Homer Bailey, both of whom they acquired in separate trades from #Royals. Per sources, they have explored adding another starting pitcher, with #Mets’ Zack Wheeler and #Reds’ Tanner Roark among their targets. @TheAthleticMLB.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 27, 2019
Roark, 32, is 6-6 in 20 starts with a 3.95 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He has struck out 106 batters in 107 innings, walking 34. This season, Roark is striking out batters at the highest rate (8.92 per nine innings) of his MLB career.
Wheeler, 29, is 7-6 in 20 starts with a 4.71 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. His 3.64 fielding independent pitching (FIP) indicates he has been a bit unlucky, with opposing hitters' .315 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) the second-highest mark of his career. Like Roark, Wheeler also is striking out hitters at a career-best highest rate (9.92 every nine innings).
Another similarity could speak to how the A's front office approaches the trade deadline, as both Roark and Wheeler can become unrestricted free agents this season. Targeting rentals makes a lot of sense for the A's, as they likely would pay a lower price in terms of prospects than they would for players with more years of team control. Plus, the starting pitching Oakland has in the pipeline means there isn't necessarily a long-term need.
Sean Manaea is working his way back to the majors after undergoing shoulder surgery last season, while top pitching prospects Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk will have a chance to crack the A's rotation in spring training if not down the stretch. A short-term upgrade over their current big league options would fit the A's timeline as a result, and that's especially true if they hang on to Luzardo and Puk through the July 31 deadline.
Trailing the AL's second wild-card spot by a half-game entering Saturday, the A's probably are in need a nudge rather than a push to reach the postseason. Roark or Wheeler could give them that.