The A’s knew they were taking a risk by relying heavily on a pitching staff low on Major League experience, and that danger arose often during what was a historically bad 112-loss season. In 2024, they hope to avoid a repeat of this situation.
The A’s have reason to be optimistic that their pitching will be improved based on the progress made by young starters such as JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk and Luis Medina. But that can’t be the only way to improve a rotation whose 738 innings were the fewest in the American League.
During a call with reporters from the general managers’ meetings in Arizona last week, A’s general manager David Forst hinted that the club was looking to bring in an experienced, veteran-type starting pitcher who could potentially help alleviate the burden of his young pitchers.
“I think we’re going to explore more options for recruiting starting pitchers,” Forst said. “It would be nice to have someone with experience who can throw innings. I think I’m going to take the talent that we have and hopefully increase it in any way I can. But pitching is definitely a topic in a lot of our conversations right now.
Given the A’s low payroll flexibility, they won’t be involved in bidding wars for top-tier weapons. Instead, here’s a look at some next-tier free agents who could fit that description:
RHP Michael Lorenzen
Age: 31 years old
Lorenzen’s 2023 campaign was a story of two halves. He had a good run with the Tigers that earned him his first career All-Star selection before joining the Phillies at the trade deadline and struggling a bit down the stretch. Overall, the California native went 9-9 and posted a 4.18 ERA in 29 games (25 starts) with 111 strikeouts and 47 walks in 153 innings. The A’s expressed interest in Lorenzen as a free agent last offseason, so there’s a good chance they’ll inquire again this time around.
RHP Julio Tehran
Age: 32 years old
Tehran started last season with the Padres, but then exercised an opt-out clause in his contract after being stuck in the minors and signed a deal with the Brewers, with whom he posted a 4 ERA, 40 in 14 games (11 starts) with 50 strikeouts and 13 walks in 71 2/3 innings. He has proven to be an innings eater during his career, racking up no fewer than 174 2/3 Major League innings each season from 2013-2019.
RHP Jacob Junis
Age: 31 years old
Junis primarily played a multi-inning relief role across the Bay with the Giants in 2023, posting a 3.87 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 86 innings. Previously a starter with the Royals and Giants earlier in his career, the right-hander would fit the mold of what the A’s are looking for as a veteran arm with experience in different situations.
RHP Frankie Montas
Age: 30 years old
Montas emerged as the eventual ace of the A’s pitching staff before joining the Yankees at the 2022 trade deadline. After an injury-riddled stint in New York, there may be no better place for Montas to try to rebuild his value than Oakland, where he has had by far the most success of his career and could also lead a young pitcher. staff.