Clay Buchholz

MLB free agency: Examining A's best remaining options at starting pitcher

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AP

MLB free agency: Examining A's best remaining options at starting pitcher

The A's set out to upgrade their starting pitching this offseason, and re-signing Mike Fiers was a step in the right direction. But, they still have work to do.

Realistically, Oakland would like to add at least one more starter, probably two. With that in mind, here's a market reset on the top remaining starting pitchers in free agency:

First tier: Dallas Keuchel

Keuchel is the last big-name starter still available, but he is way out of Oakland's price range. The 30-year-old southpaw figures to get at least $20 million a year after notching two All-Star Game appearances and a Cy Young Award over the last four seasons.

Second tier: Clay Buchholz, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Hellickson, Derek Holland, Edwin Jackson, Wade Miley, Drew Pomeranz, Ervin Santana

This is where the A's will likely continue their search. They have already reached out to Edwin Jackson and Clay Buchholz, although no deal is imminent with either.

Jackson would probably cost at least $6 million on a one-year contract, especially after some of the big contracts other starters have signed this offseason. NBC Sports California reported last week that Jackson and the A's are far apart in negotiations at the moment.

Fancred's Jon Heyman expects Buchholz to get $7 million or more. In fact, Heyman projects every pitcher in this group to earn at least $5 million next season, with Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley getting $10 million apiece. That may be too high a price for the A's to pay, since their payroll is already nearing $90 million.

Drew Pomeranz is an intriguing option. The 30-year-old left-hander, and former Athletic, is just a year removed from going 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA in Boston. Similarly, Ervin Santana was an All-Star in 2017, finishing the season 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA. Heyman projects both to get $6 million.

Derek Holland and Jeremy Hellickson are coming off strong seasons in 2018. Holland compiled an ERA of 3.57 across the Bay in San Francisco, while Hellickson's ERA was a superb 3.45 with the Phillies. Heyman has each getting just $5 million.

All of these pitchers could be good fits in Oakland. The A's will likely try to wait them out and see who is still available come February or March and hope for a discount.

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Third tier: Brett Anderson, Marco Estrada, Doug Fister, Jaime Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Francisco Liriano, Shelby Miller, James Shields

This group will provide the most realistic salary options for the A’s. Oakland has some interest in bringing back Brett Anderson, though it could be on a minor-league deal. The same would almost certainly be true for Shelby Miller, with whom the A's have made contact following his non-tender from the Diamondbacks.

Heyman projects Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, and James Shields to all receive at least $4 million next year, which seems far too high a price for flawed pitchers at this point in their careers.

Doug Fister, Jaime Garcia, and Miguel Gonzalez have all struggled in the past couple of years. Of course, the A's have had past success resurrecting pitching careers. Just look at Jackson and Trevor Cahill last season.

Oakland figures to play the waiting game with this group of pitchers and hope for another bargain or two late in the offseason.

Source: A's interested in free agent starting pitcher Clay Buchholz

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USATSI

Source: A's interested in free agent starting pitcher Clay Buchholz

The A's have expressed interest in signing free-agent starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, a source told NBC Sports California on Thursday.

While nothing appears to be imminent, the sides have engaged in discussions.

Buchholz, 34, is coming off a terrific bounce-back season with the Diamondbacks. The right-hander went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 16 starts, after beginning the season in the minors.

A two-time All-Star, Buchholz owns a career record of 88-64 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 seasons. He earned just $1.5 million last year, but he figures to get a significant raise after his stellar 2018 campaign.

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It's no secret that the A's are in the market for starting pitching. After non-tendering right-hander Mike Fiers last week, Oakland currently is without a single starting pitcher from last season's end-of-year rotation.

The A's are interested in re-signing right-handers Edwin Jackson and Trevor Cahill, and free agent left-hander Brett Anderson also could be in the mix to return.

Oakland reportedly also has expressed interest in reacquiring right-hander Sonny Gray from the Yankees.

It appears the A's will be quite busy at next week's Winter Meetings.

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

Five realistic free agent starting pitcher targets for A's

The 2019 A's starting rotation will probably look a lot different than it did at the end of 2018. Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Brett Anderson are all unrestricted free agents, and Mike Fiers is up for arbitration.

While the A's do have some reinforcements within the organization, they could certainly benefit from a shrewd free agent signing or two. Obviously, Oakland won't be in the running for the top big-money free agents, ruling out pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ, but here are five options that could be in their price range.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi put together a strong 2018 between Tampa Bay and Boston. The right-hander went 6-7 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 22 appearances, including 21 starts. In seven career seasons, he has compiled a 4.16 ERA.

Eovaldi earned just $2 million this season, and while he figures to get more than that next year, he should still be affordable for a team like the A's. At the age of 28, he is right in his prime and could provide a strong veteran presence for Oakland.

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Clay Buchholz

Buchholz pitched brilliantly in 17 starts with the Diamondbacks this season. The 34-year-old turned back the clock, going 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. In 12 big league seasons, Buchholz has a 3.86 ERA.

The Diamondbacks only paid Buchholz $1.5 million for his services in 2018 and as he approaches the age of 35, he likely won't get much more next season. The two-time All-Star could prove to be a nice under-the-radar signing for a team like Oakland.

Jeremy Hellickson

After a rough 2017, Jeremy Hellickson bounced back this season with the Nationals. The right-hander went 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 17 starts for Washington. He has a 4.07 career ERA in nine Major League seasons.

Hellickson only earned a base salary of $2 million this year and should be affordable. The 31-year-old could provide the A's with another reliable veteran starter for a reasonable price.

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Tyson Ross

Tyson Ross, a Berkeley native and former A, went 8-9 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 games this season, including 23 starts. The former All-Star began the year with the Padres, before being shipped to the Cardinals at the trade deadline. After joining St. Louis, Ross posted a 2.73 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old right-hander earned a base salary of $1.75 million in 2018, and doesn't figure to get a whole lot more next season. As a hometown pitcher, Ross would certainly fit into the A's “Rooted in Oakland” campaign, and he could add some depth to the rotation.

CC Sabathia

Speaking of hometown pitchers, Vallejo native CC Sabathia could be a terrific signing at the age of 38. The left-hander showed he still has something in the tank in his 18th season, going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in 29 starts with the Yankees.

Sabathia made $10 million in 2018, but maybe he would take a hometown discount to play for the A's in his 19th big league season. It makes a lot of sense for both sides, as Sabathia would get another chance to play for a playoff contender before he retires, while Oakland would get a six-time All-Star and fan favorite.