The Athletics have made their first of potentially many moves towards bolstering their pitching staff today by acquiring the Royals’ Homer Bailey. On the surface, the move appears out of the ordinary as Bailey has had trouble preventing runs for 4 seasons, as he has failed to record an ERA below 5.50 since 2014. This season has been kinder to Bailey, and while he hasn’t performed like an ace in 2019, it’s a clear step up for the 33 year old as he hopes to continue to revitalize his career with the A’s now.
You can split up Bailey’s 2019 into two halves, and you’ll find completely different results on either side. In his first 10 starts of the year, he allowed 32 runs in 47 innings and I assumed he was destined to finish his playing career eating innings for the non-competitive Royals before unceremoniously retiring. Boy, was I wrong. His following 8 starts have been a distinct reversal of fortune for the veteran right handed as he has limited his opponents to only 16 runs in 43 innings, good for a 3.35 ERA. His season K% and BB% are solid, if unspectacular, at 20.8 and 9.8 respectively. Put it all together and you’ve got an interesting package for Oakland. Will Bailey regress back to his run allowing tendencies? Will his recent stretch of run stinginess continue? Will he settle somewhere in the middle?
As for the Royals return, Kevin Merrell was taken 33rd overall in the 2017 draft by Oakland. The switch hitting shortstop’s calling card is his top of the line speed. Graded as an 80 on the 20-80 scale by some, it’ll be up to his speed to carry him to the big leagues. That’s about where all the positives end for Merrell. His power is rivaled by the likes of Billy Hamilton, but unlike Hamilton’s trip through Double-A, Merrell’s walk rate is a putrid 5.7%. His slash line leaves much to be desired as it currently sits at .242/.292/.339, good for a 73 wRC+. Throw in mediocre at best shortstop defense and you get a very lackluster prospect. But hey, at least he’s fast.
While not the name many A’s fans were hoping for, Homer Bailey is a solid first step towards solidifying a shakey pitching staff. He should be good for, at the very least, a league average ERA, FIP, and xFIP with the upside for something more as his recent run has shown. He’ll likely replace Tanner Anderson in the rotation. This is the A’s game. Small, incremental upgrades at areas of need, and while a bigger acquisition isn’t totally out of the question (ala Jeff Samardzija/Jon Lester in 2014) be prepared for more of these types of moves from the A’s front office.
Welcome to Oakland, Homer!