Photo: John Shea / SF Chronicle
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The A’s announced their two-year contract with starting pitcher Mike Fiers on Monday, and much more rotation news is anticipated before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in February.
The news will come probably later rather than sooner.
“I think given our situation, waiting it out is probably the way we’re going to look at it,” said executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, whose club opened last season with the majors’ lowest payroll but added significant parts as the season progressed. “We have to be opportunistic and patient.”
In the wake of acquiring second baseman Jurickson Profar and reliever Joakim Soria, the A’s appear satisfied with their lineup and bullpen. The focus for the rest of the offseason is finding starting pitchers and adding roster depth.
Fiers is the only member of the season-ending rotation under contract for 2019, and the other spots will be filled presumably with a combination of offseason acquisitions and in-house candidates.
Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson are free agents, and Trevor Cahill signed with the Angels. The other starter actually was an opener, Liam Hendriks. Opening Day starter Kendall Graveman, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, signed with the Cubs.
Among the internal candidates, Jesus Luzardo draws the most interest as one of the premier prospects in the game. The 21-year-old lefty was 10-5 with a 2.88 ERA and 1.088 WHIP in 23 starts at three minor-league levels last season.
He made just four starts in Triple-A, however.
“He’s a very talented kid,” Beane said. “We’re the caretakers of his career. Historically, when we make a decision on players like this, when they come up, they stay up. We’ll have to make that call during the spring. It’s hard to answer now. But he’s a very talented guy, and we certainly expect him to have an impact at some time in 2019.”
The A’s could keep Luzardo in the minors because they believe he needs more seasoning or because they’d want to prolong his arbitration and free agency, which is done by teams (without admitting as much) to keep their best young players aboard longer.
Sean Manaea, who emerged last season before going on the disabled list and undergoing shoulder surgery, could pitch next season, Beane said, perhaps around the All-Star break. Jharel Cotton, Daniel Gossett and prospect A.J. Puk, the sixth overall draft pick in 2016, are recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Fiers was acquired from Detroit in early August and made nine starts, going 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in those games; the A’s won eight of them. He ranked fifth in the American League in fewest walks per nine innings.
Fiers had been eligible for arbitration and could have made roughly $9 million next season, but the A’s non-tendered him last month, making him a free agent. News of his return to Oakland emerged Saturday. The deal is for $6 million in 2019 and $8.1 million in 2020, according to the Associated Press.
“He did a great job for us after the acquisition. He’s been a reliable guy throughout his career,” said Beane, suggesting Fiers’ durability and consistency are assets in a rotation dealing with several injuries. “This is something both sides always thought was a possibility even after the non-tender.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/With-Mike-Fiers-signed-A-s-seek-more-rotation-13489373.php.