Athletics

A's starting pitching solutions must be found in free agency, and soon

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AP

A's starting pitching solutions must be found in free agency, and soon

The A's starting rotation had suffered so many injuries by the end of last season that just four healthy starters remained: Mike Fiers, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson.

As of right now, none of them are on the A's 40-man roster for next year.

Jackson, Cahill and Anderson are free agents, and Fiers joined them in that category when the A's non-tendered him last week. You might be wondering how in the world the A's will construct a starting rotation for next season. It's a fair question.

Let's break down the options:

Healthy starters on 40-man roster

Jesús Luzardo
Daniel Mengden
Frankie Montas
Chris Bassitt
Paul Blackburn*
*--Blackburn is recovering from an elbow injury, but he's expected to be ready for spring training

Injured starters on 40-man roster

A.J. Puk
Jharel Cotton
Daniel Gossett
Sean Manaea
Andrew Triggs

Puk and Cotton both are recovering from Tommy John surgery and should be able to return sometime after June. Gossett had his Tommy John surgery in August and will miss the entire season.

Manaea underwent shoulder surgery that likely will keep him out for most, if not all, of the season. Triggs had thoracic outlet surgery in September, and his status for next year is unknown.

Analysis

The A's currently have just five starting pitchers to begin next season, and all five face major questions.

Luzardo is Oakland's top prospect, but he has yet to throw a major league pitch. Mengden and Montas have been wildly inconsistent in their limited experience. Blackburn has made just 16 starts in his young career and is coming off a season-ending injury. And Bassitt really is more of a long reliever than a starter.

A's general manager David Forst has said he believes a team must enter a season with at least 10 starting pitchers because of inevitable injuries throughout the year. That would mean Oakland needs to sign or trade for five more starters this offseason.

The A's likely will try to re-sign Jackson, Cahill and Anderson to get to eight starters. They reportedly have discussed reacquiring Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees, though MLB Trade Rumors projects the right-hander to earn $9.1 million in arbitration, which might be too right for a budget-minded team. We've previously identified a handful of other free-agent starters the A's could consider, a list that now also might include Shelby Miller and Matt Shoemaker.

With the Winter Meetings next week in Las Vegas, the free agent dominoes should begin to fall shortly. And while we don't know for sure which pitchers the A's will target, we do know they will be active.

Stay tuned.

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

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AP

MLB rumors: A's free-agent target Matt Wieters returning to Cardinals

The A's could use a veteran catcher on their major league roster, but Matt Wieters will not be that guy.

The veteran catcher will be returning to the St. Louis Cardinals, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Sunday.

A little over a week ago, The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported, citing sources, that Wieters was drawing interest from the A's and Cardinals.

Wieters to the A's would have made sense because both catchers on Oakland's big league depth chart, Sean Murphy and Austin Allen, are rookies.

Instead, Wieters decided to stick with the team he played for in 2019. In 67 games last season, the 33-year-old slashed .214/.268/.435 with 11 homers and 27 RBI.

[RELATED: Buddy Reed hopes to reunite with Puk]

With Wieters reportedly off the board, there still are several attractive veteran catchers on the free-agent market for the A's to consider: Russell Martin, Caleb Joseph, Nick Hundley, Jonathan Lucroy, Bryan Holaday and Welington Castillo, just to name a few.

The A's have been relatively quiet this offseason, so we'll see if they make any more additions before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz. on Feb. 12.

Boston's JD Martinez understands why Mike Fiers spoke up about Astros

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USATSI

Boston's JD Martinez understands why Mike Fiers spoke up about Astros

The latest "MLB cheating scandal" cast a murky cloud over America's Pastime when it was brought forth allegations that the Houston Astros used technology to illegally steal signs during the team's 2017 championship season.

The team allegedly would use centerfield video cameras to steal signs from opponents and relay an audio signal (banging on the cans) to batters to give them a heads up which pitch would be coming.

Current A's pitcher Mike Fiers, who spent three seasons as a member of the Astros, was the first to go on record and talk about the cheating ways. Since then, he's received quite a bit of backlash from fans ... and even sports analysts.

But he has a lot of support when you sift through the awful Twitter mentions (and fake niece accounts -- seriously, what?!) in his friend and former college teammate J.D. Martinez.

“Sucks for him. I’ve talked to him about it,” Martinez said in an interview with MassLive.com. “I understand his side of it. I understand his side of it, being in that division and going against those guys. It’s one of those things where it’s an uncomfortable position for him. I understand why he did what he did.”

The Boston Red Sox designated hitter was also asked if it were possible Fiers would fall victim to any type of retaliation on the field during this upcoming season -- or any season after that.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Martinez said. “I wish him the best with everything. I talked about it with him. He obviously felt like he needed to and I understand it.”

We don't know what will materialize once actual baseball games are played, but it appears there is more heat on Major League Baseball than Fiers.

ESPN baseball analyst and Mets advisor Jessica Mendoza recently gave her thoughts publicly on what Fiers had done saying it "didn't sit well" with her on the fact that he decided to "go public."

What she said didn't sit well with many. Myself included.

This isn't an article to discuss what she said or the fact she holds both of these titles is a conflict of interest. This article will, however, expound she was false in her statements.

It's important to showcase that Fiers has the support from not only his friends/fellow baseball players but those who spend money and time dedicated to the sport.

Since Fiers bravely went public in that interview with The Athletic, baseball saw a few historic penalties.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Lunhow were both fired. The team forfeited its first- and second-round picks in the 2020 and '21 MLB drafts and were fined $5 million. This is the highest allowable fine under the Major League Constitution. 

The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora "mutually parted ways" after the scandal. Cora served as the Astros' bench coach the year the team won the World Series.

As Martinez says, we don't know what will happen in the upcoming months as more light is shed on these situations, but many are saying Fiers should be commended for what he did.

[RELATED: A's projected to win under 90 games in 2020]

He could have been anonymous. He could have subtweeted it in a cryptic way. He could have waited years from now to write a novel about it.

He didn't.

Fiers stamped his name on it, and that brought more individuals forward to do the same. That took courage.