The Athletics are in agreement with right-handed starting pitcher Marco Estrada on a one-year, $4 million contract, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee and ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Friday and the team quickly confirmed:
Source says the A’s have agreed to a one-year deal with Marco Estrada.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) January 25, 2019
Free agent starter Marco Estrada and the Oakland A's are in agreement on a one-year, $4 million contract, a source familiar with the contract tells ESPN. @JaneMLB was first with the agreement, as were @Ken_Rosenthal and @JonHeyman with Justin Wilson specifics.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 25, 2019
The A’s will look to re-establish the value of the 35-year-old Estrada, much like they did with Trevor Cahill, Edwin Jackson, and Brett Anderson last year and have done with many starting pitchers in prior seasons. Estrada was one of the majors’ most effective starters as recently as 2016, serving as one of the anchors of the rotation for a Blue Jays team that made two straight ALCS in 2015-16 and making the AL All-Star team in ‘16. The 11-year veteran has struggled over the past two seasons, though, and he posted a 5.64 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP over 28 starts in 2018, striking out just 103 and walking 50 over 143.2 innings. With Rogers Centre and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum both being rather neutral environments, it doesn’t seem as if a change in his home ballpark is going to be a huge benefit for Estrada, so the A’s will just have to hope that he returns to the habits and mechanics that enabled him to be so successful earlier this decade.
Even after the addition of Estrada, the Athletics are still rather starved for starting pitching depth. They already brought back Mike Fiers (after he took a paycut and gave them an extra year of club control), and they might be wise to try to do the same with Jackson and Anderson.
It’s a mystery as to what the rest of Oakland’s rotation will look like beyond Fiers and Estrada (who, by the way, can’t just be counted on as a 30-start guy for a team that expects to contend). 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. Especially considering the way he managed his staff down the stretch last season, it’s possible that manager Bob Melvin will just have “bullpen days” rather than bothering with ineffective fourth and/or fifth starters at the back of the rotation.