Oakland A’s Signing Target: Clay Buchholz

It’s no question that the Oakland Athletics’ number one priority this offseason is starting pitching. After losing Sean Manaea for at least half of next year, losing Trevor Cahill to the Angels in free agency, and Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson being free agents, Oakland doesn’t have much starting pitching remaining. In fact, the A’s currently have two healthy starters who were on the Major League roster at the end of last season: Mike Fiers and Daniel Mengden.

While there are still some affordable, decent starters available as free agents, most of them are still out of Oakland’s price range. A’s GM David Forst has stated that they aren’t looking to pay a pitcher much more than $5 million per year, which makes it very difficult for the Athletics to sign a starter. However, there’s one starter that could make a good fit in Oakland, and it’s Clay Buchholz.

The 34-year-old right-hander is one of the top free-agent starters available, and while he may receive a little more than $5 million, he could still be an affordable, solid signing. Buchholz spent two stints on the disabled list in 2018, which is quite normal for him, but dominated in the times that he was healthy. Over 16 starts, Buchholz went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .255 BABIP, 42.6 GB%, 3.47 FIP and 0.82 HR/9.

If there’s any career to be defined as “rocky”, it’s that of Clay Buchholz. Over 11 years in the Majors, the right-hander has completed 30+ starts in a season just once, and 20+ starts only four times. He’s never shown much consistency either, but when healthy, he can be a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher. Buchholz posted a 3.26 ERA over 18 starts in 2015, a 1.74 ERA through 16 starts in 2013, a 3.48 ERA over 14 starts in 2012, and a 2.33 ERA over 28 starts in 2011, which was second-best in the American League.

This far into the offseason, almost all of the reliable starting pitching options have been signed. The A’s are running out of time, and soon, they’ll have to turn to trading for their starters. With a team that’s built up a solid farm system, Oakland won’t be looking to trade away many prospects. If they want to stay under budget without giving up prospects in trade, Clay Buchholz would be a great signing for a team in need of starting pitching; the Oakland A’s.

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