Having freed up some money in today’s earlier trade, the A’s put some of that money immediately to use by bringing starter Mike Fiers back into the fold. Fiers and the A’s have agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). Fiers is a client of BASH Baseball.
The A’s were the only team to make an offer to Fiers, notes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, though Fiers had also made clear his desire to return to Oakland. Given Fiers’ notoriety as the whistleblower of the Astros sign-stealing scandal, it’s interesting to note the lack of league-wide interest, though Fiers also doesn’t own the pitching profile that typically generates bidding wars in free agency.
The 35-year-old righty is coming off a 4.58 ERA/5.41 SIERA season over 59 innings for the A’s with a 35 percent groundball rate, a very low 14.4 strikeout rate, and an above-average 6.2 percent walk rate. As a contact-friendly flyball artist, Fiers’ game is particularly well-suited for the spacious confines of the Coliseum in Oakland. Since joining the A’s mid-season in 2018, Fiers’ raw run prevention numbers have routinely outperformed SIERA and fielding independent pitching metrics, thanks largely to low BABIP numbers.
At his best, Fiers can bedevil opponents with his arsenal, as evidenced by two career no-hitters. But overall, the Athletics will be pleased if Fiers can continue his 2019-20 performance level, and especially if Fiers can eat up some innings at the back of the rotation. Averaging 172 innings per season from 2015-19, Fiers offers some durability to an Oakland pitching staff that has been hit by a lot of injuries in recent years.