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A’s Fighting Fiers With Fiers

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“There is no ‘I’ in ‘FERS’”
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

“We don’t want that guy Fiers and his $9.7M projected arbitration. Non-tender him and instead let’s go after that free agent guy, Fiers. Indeed, MLBTR reports the A’s are close to bringing Fiers back on a 2 year deal worth $14-15M.

I’m on a roll this week, which is notable because by my own admission the surest way to guarantee the A’s don’t make a given move is for me to suggest it. But somehow this off-season the front office and I seem aligned, as I brought up the idea of trading for Jurickson Profar before it was a thing, and predicted Fiers would be non-tendered only to be brought back on around a 2/$14M deal. What do you? Apparently a broken clock is right twice a day!

If you have followed my comments on AN you know that I my feelings around Mike Fiers are fairly tepid. So it might surprise you to know that I am quite pleased at this impending deal, even though I believe Fiers is very unlikely to replicate his 2018 success, one that had ‘mirage’ written all over it when you dig deeper into the more predictive metrics.

No, I am not pleased to bring Fiers back just because the advanced metrics confirm that he has a pulse. Just because the A’s need starting pitching more desperately than the Kardashians need attention, that doesn’t mean I want any old pitcher. And no I am not deluding myself with the classic, “His numbers should play better at the Coliseum” because every pitcher enjoys some advantages there and when the bar is lowered your low jump is not more impressive.

I am pleased because while he may not be a great pitcher (I would characterize him as being a “solid #4 SP”), Fiers has many of the qualities needed to thrive with this particular team. As I mentioned on a couple threads, I could see Fiers having a season where he went something like 16-7, 4.20 ERA, with the A’s winning a high percentage of his starts despite Fiers giving up a fair number of runs.

Why? Because thanks to the A’s offense, defense, and bullpen, a typical Mike Fiers start — 5.2 IP, maybe 3 ER — is going to lead to a lot of wins behind an offense that will score 4+ runs much of the time and a lockdown bullpen capable of taking a lead or tie and holding it for 3+ innings.

To that you add the value of durability: if Fiers can make 30 starts, even if it only yields around 170 IP he could win 16 games (with the team winning more than that). It’s kind of a perfect storm.

So I expect Fiers to give up a lot of HRs, I expect his ERA to climb north of 4.00, but I also anticipate he will make 30 starts and that ultimately he will win a lot of games. This is an A’s team that while they will need “top of the rotation” types in a short series, what they need to thrive over a 162-game season is more durability, reliability, and basic competence as the canvas for the offense, defense, and bullpen to paint.

Is Mike Fiers a great starting pitcher? No. Is the 2019 team poised to win a lot of games started by a pitcher like Mike Fiers? Absolutely. Context is everything and if the A’s indeed ink Fiers to this rumored 2 year deal, they just got better. (But no, Mike, you can’t start this wild card game either. That’s why we have Jesus Luzardo.)

Poll

What would your move have been with regard to Mike Fiers?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Tender him a contract at 1 year/$9.7M arb.
    (37 votes)
  • 88%
    Sign the 2/$14-15M deal rumored to be happening
    (663 votes)
  • 6%
    Let him go and sign a better SP
    (52 votes)
752 votes total Vote Now