The Oakland Athletics rode a dominant bullpen to 97 wins and an AL Wild Card Game appearance in 2018, and, late Thursday night, the club added another veteran end-game pitcher to manager Bob Melvin's relief unit.
According to multiple reports the A's and righty Joakim Soria have agreed to a two-year contract worth approximately $15 million. The team is expected to announce the signing Friday.
Soria, now 34, split this past season between the White Sox and Brewers, throwing 60 2/3 innings with a 3.12 ERA and 75 strikeouts. That is his lowest ERA since 2015 and his highest strikeout total since he fanned 75 as a rookie in 2007. The A's will be Soria's sixth team in six years.
With the caveat Oakland could trade from their bullpen depth this offseason to address other needs on the roster, the club's bullpen currently looks like this:
- Closer: RHP Blake Treinen
- Setup: RHP Fernando Rodney, RHP Joakim Soria
- Middle: LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Liam Hendriks, RHP Lou Trivino
- Long: RHP Yusmeiro Petit
- Depth: RHP Ryan Dull, RHP Emilio Pagan, RHP J.B. Wendelken
Soria is essentially replacing Jeurys Familia in the A's bullpen. Oakland acquired Familia from the Mets at the trade deadline this year and he served as Treinen's primary setup man down the stretch. . Soria is a fine replacement and, given the personnel, the A's should field a strong bullpen again in 2019.
The rotation though? That's another matter. Jharel Cotton (Tommy John surgery), Daniel Gossett (Tommy John surgery), Sean Manaea (shoulder surgery), and Andrew Triggs (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) are all rehabbing and are, at best, questionable for Opening Day. Gossett and Manaea are likely to miss the entire 2019 season. Oakland's rotation currently looks like this:
Left-hander and top prospect Jesus Luzardo is expected to reach the big leagues at some point next season -- MLB.com currently ranks Luzardo as the second best pitching prospect (and 12th best prospect overall) in baseball -- but expecting a 21-year-old kid to come up and save the rotation is unrealistic. Clearly, the A's need some starters, and now that Familia has been replaced by Soria, expect Oakland to shift gears and look for rotation help.