Even though the Oakland Athletics had some All-Star pitchers in their bullpen in 2013, the postseason really showed that their pitching rotation could not stand up to the bats in the major league.
This offseason needs to be more about rebuilding the pitching rotation than anything else since the Athletics have a surplus of talented players both from the 2013 lineup, the bench, and Triple A that could fill any voids in the field or the lineup. So what pitchers will go, which ones will stay, and who might be acquired? That is question that is being talked about in Oakland these days.
So far, two relievers have already elected to test the free agency market. Both right handed pitcher Chris Resop and left hander Hideki Okajima did not get much time on the mound this season, with Resop only pitching a total of 18 innings and Okajima only four. The Athletics were not looking to resign Resop anyways, and Okajima, who will be 38 this winter, will most likely return to Japan.
Then there is closer Grant Balfour and ace Bartolo Colon. These two pitchers where the stars of the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen this season, however there is the possibility of them leaving their green and gold jerseys behind.
Colon only earned $3 million this year and, for the way he pitched this season, he could definitely be scooped up by a bigger team that has deeper pockets. With a 2.65 ERA and years of experience under his belt, Colon could probably squeak out a one year contract with another team for more money. Even though Colon was amazing in 2013, his age is a factor against him. At 40 years old, many will question if he will bring the same strength and power in 2014. If another team does not sign him for more money, I think Billy Beane will want to keep Colon for one more year.
Balfour is a different story. This closer has been paid $4.5 million for the past two years and has proven himself over and over again during his time with Oakland. In 2013, he had 38 saves in 41 chances and a 2.59 ERA. His consistency and accuracy that he displayed over the past few years with the A’s will be rewarded in the offseason with a huge pay raise, but probably not by the Athletics.
Balfour’s athletic ability as a closer is one of the best in the entire MLB and there are many teams looking to put him in their bullpen. As for the A’s, they are not known for spending top dollar on closers and will most likely find a unknown to fill the void or reward an quality A’s reliever such as Ryan Cook with the closing position.
Lastly, Brett Anderson could stay with the Athletics if he stays healthy; although there have been rumors floating around that Toronto has had their eye on this starting pitcher for quite some time now. The Athletics might not think it is worth it to fight for a pitcher who is constantly on the disabled list.
So how will the Athletics fill the pitching void? They will most likely wheel and deal with veteran free agents or bring up some young rookies from Triple A.
A good option to come down from Sacramento is Arnold Leon. This 25-year-old right handed pitcher was not as powerful in 2013 as he has been in the past, but, given his ability and consistency, there is a good chance he could become a reliever for the A’s, especially with two already electing free agency. He probably will not be able to fill Balfour’s shoes, but he would make a good addition to the bullpen.
There has also been some talk that the Athletics are interested in Tampa Bay’s left handed pitcher David Price. Price would be a great addition to the starting pitching rotation for the Oakland Athletics. In 2013, he has a 3.33 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He is a dominant pitcher that could fill Colon’s spot if Colon does not come back to play with the Athletics. However, some other teams also seem to be interested in Price and the Athletics might back off if the offers start coming in too high.
If the Athletics want to start beefing up their bullpen, they are going to need to start spending more money on pitchers. The Oakland Athletics have many quality players in Triple A that could fill fielding positions as well as some veteran players like Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes who will still be great both defensively and offensively in 2014. In order to get to the postseason for a third time and actually win the World Series, the A’s need to choose wisely when it comes to pitching.
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