Jonathan Lucroy

How six free agents A's let go in offseason have fared with new teams

How six free agents A's let go in offseason have fared with new teams

The A's faced some challenging decisions this past offseason as they tried to determine which of their eight free agents to bring back.

Oakland ultimately re-signed only Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson, though Jackson was recently traded to Toronto. The A's allowed their other six free agents -- Trevor Cahill, Jeurys Familia, Matt Joyce, Shawn Kelley, Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy -- to sign elsewhere.

Here's a look at how they've fared with their new teams this season:

Trevor Cahill

Cahill signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Angels and it has not paid off for Los Angeles.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 49 innings. He has already allowed 14 home runs, tied for second-most in the majors.

From the very moment the Angels signed Cahill, the deal seemed destined to fail. Sure, he had a nice bounce-back season for the A's last year, going 6-4 with a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, but much of that was due to pitching in the Oakland Coliseum. On the road, his ERA was 6.41.

Clearly, the A's made a wise decision letting Cahill go for that price.

Jeurys Familia

Familia returned to the Mets on a three-year, $30 million deal and it has not worked out, at least so far.

The 29-year-old reliever is 2-0 but has a 6.50 ERA and 1.89 WHIP in 18 innings. Familia's biggest issue has been his lack of control, as he has already issued 14 walks. His command was also an issue at times last year, as he surrendered 14 walks in 31 1/3 innings with Oakland.

The A's were never going to re-sign Familia for $10 million per year, and it appears the organization made the right call.

Matt Joyce

Joyce initially signed a minor-league contract with the Indians but was released and signed another minor-league deal with the Giants.

San Francisco then traded the 34-year-old to Atlanta, where he has actually had some success in limited action. Joyce is slashing .250/.340/.477 with two home runs and five RBI in 44 at-bats. He was injured for much of last season and really didn't have a spot to play in Oakland, finishing the year with a .208/.322/.353 slash line.

The A's have plenty of younger options in the outfield, so they haven't missed Joyce at all. Still, it's nice to see him getting a chance on a major league club.

Shawn Kelley

Kelley signed a one-year contract with the Rangers worth $2.75 million. To this point, the veteran right-hander has been a bargain, going 3-0 with three saves and 1.80 ERA. He has struck out 12 batters in 15 innings, issuing just one walk.

Kelley, 35, recently had a health scare when he had to undergo surgery to remove multiple lumps from his vocal cords. Fortunately, the growths were benign, and he has since returned to the mound for Texas.

Kelley was outstanding after joining the A's last August, recording a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 16 2/3 innings. He's probably the one free agent Oakland regrets letting go.

Jed Lowrie

Lowrie signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Mets this past offseason after a career-year in Oakland.

Unfortunately, the 35-year-old has yet to play a single game this season, due to injuries. Lowrie missed all of spring training and the start of the regular season with a sprained knee capsule. Now. he is dealing with a strained hamstring and is expected to be out until at least June.

The A's have certainly missed Lowrie's bat in their lineup, although Jurickson Profar is finally starting to heat up. Based on Lowrie's age, price tag and injuries, it appears Oakland made the right decision in letting him walk.

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Jonathan Lucroy

Lucroy signed a one-year contract with the Angels worth $3.35 million and he has made it worth their while.

The 32-year-old catcher is slashing .265/.326/.439 with six home runs and 21 RBI. Last season in Oakland, Lucroy only hit four homers all season, while slashing .241/.291/.325.

His value certainly went beyond the numbers, as he guided the A's pitching staff to a stellar season despite numerous injuries.

Even with Lucroy's success this season, the A's have actually received more production from their catchers. Josh Phegley is slashing .276/.317/.474 with five home runs and 28 RBI, and Nick Hundley has added two homers of his own.

MLB rumors: Ex-A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy agrees to Angels contract

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AP

MLB rumors: Ex-A's catcher Jonathan Lucroy agrees to Angels contract

Jonathan Lucroy reportedly will head back to the AL West in 2019. He just won't be with the A's. 

The veteran catcher agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, Fancred's Jon Heyman reported. The deal is worth $3.35 million, and up to $4 million with incentives, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan.

The A's signed Lucroy late in free agency last offseason, and the 32-year-old stabilized a young, injury-riddled rotation en route to a 97-win season and Oakland's first postseason appearance since 2014. But Lucroy and the A's reportedly were far away on contract terms this winter, as Lucroy reportedly was unwilling to sign with the A's for less than he made last season. But, his reported contract value is less than the $6.5 million he made last season, and he'll join starting pitcher Trevor Cahill as a member of the 2018 A's to trade a green-and-gold "A" for a red one. 

Earlier this offseason, Oakland signed 31-year-old catcher Chris Herrmann to platoon with Josh Phegley behind the dish. General manager David Forst said at the MLB Winter Meetings this month that the A's would "still probably look around and see if there are options," and there are still plenty of possibilities left on the market. 

As NBC Sports California's Ben Ross noted on Thursday, veteran catchers such as Matt Wieters and Nick Hundley remain available, should the A's consider any of them an upgrade. But the A's again will have to be patient in order to find any diamonds in the rough, and success with the strategy last offseason doesn't guarantee the same success going into 2019. 

A's could have more difficulty finding diamonds in the rough this offseason

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USATSI

A's could have more difficulty finding diamonds in the rough this offseason

The 2018 Winter Meetings were mostly uneventful, with just a handful of significant trades and free agent signings. But the players who did agree to contracts earned big money, signifying a hotter market than last year.

Outfielder Andrew McCutchen inked a three-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies despite a modest 20 home runs and 65 RBI last season. Relievers Jeurys Familia and Joe Kelly each got three-year contracts worth $30 million and $25 million, respectively.

The starting pitcher market, where the A's are most interested, appears to be especially strong. Patrick Corbin got a six-year contract worth a staggering $140 million from the Nationals. Nathan Eovaldi received four years and $67.5 million from the Red Sox, despite posting similar numbers to Trevor Cahill.

Even Tyson Ross earned $5.75 million from the Tigers following a season in which he recorded a 4.15 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, both significantly worse than Cahill and Edwin Jackson.

So what does all of that mean? Essentially, it suggests the A's will have to spend more money than they would like in order to be competitive in free agency.

Of course, in previous years, Billy Beane and David Forst have been successful finding diamonds in the rough for more affordable price tags. They say they will stick to their plan.

"We don't really get to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak," Forst said. "We kind of set our price. We know what we can do within the confines of our payroll and try to stay on that."

That might be a little more difficult this year, based on the early contract numbers in free agency. While the A's try not to let other teams' deals affect their negotiations, it's hard not to take notice.

"Any time a player comes off the market, whether it's a free agent or a trade, that's one fewer guy that you can put in place," Forst said. "So you kind of have to take that into account. We're not playing in a certain stratosphere with the starting pitcher market, so those don't really affect us, but you do have to keep it in mind. There are only so many guys out there." 

The A's typically prefer to wait until late in the offseason to find free agents who fit their price range. That tactic worked well last year with Cahill, Brett Anderson, and Jonathan Lucroy. 

"We have sort of targeted conversations, free agents, and trades, and kind of go at our own pace," Forst said. "I don't know that any external forces are going to change that."

Oakland will have to hope a few quality free agents slip through the cracks again.