The Athletics and starting pitcher Mike Fiers are in agreement on a two-year deal that will bring the right-hander back to Oakland, according to a Saturday report from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi:
Source: Michael Fiers and #Athletics in agreement on 2-year contract worth between $14 million and $15 million. Deal is pending physical, which is viewed as a formality since Fiers ended the 2018 season with Oakland. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 22, 2018
Fiers, 33, is basically your textbook definition of the traditional “fifth starter,” having posted a 4.04 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP over eight seasons for the Brewers, Astros, Tigers, and Athletics. He had arguably the best season of his career in 2018, though, posting a 3.48 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP over 21 starts for Detroit, then throwing for a 3.74 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP over 10 appearances (nine starts) after being dealt to Oakland in a waiver deal on August 6.
The A’s non-tendered Fiers, who was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $9.7 million through the arbitration process, late last month. But obviously the extra $2 million of flexibility that Fiers was willing to provide the Athletics as a free agent was enough for them to feel comfortable giving him an extra year, which is probably in the best interest of a pitcher who will be 34 next offseason.
As things stand now, Fiers probably has a solid shot at being the Athletics’ Opening Day starter; after all, he’s really their only established starting pitcher who has a good shot at being healthy on Opening Day. Chris Bassitt, Paul Blackburn, Daniel Mengden, and Frankie Montas aren’t exactly proven starters at the major-league level, but they all could be candidates to fill starting spots at the start of the season. Yusmeiro Petit, who was a shutdown reliever last season but has made 59 career starts, could also be an option to slide back into the rotation. Andrew Triggs, who is coming off September 2018 thoracic outlet surgery, and Jharel Cotton and A.J. Puk, who are both coming off spring 2018 Tommy John surgeries, could also perhaps be options to contribute as starters early in the 2019 campaign. Sean Manaea (shoulder surgery) and Daniel Gossett (Tommy John) are expected to miss most or all of next season.