How do you solve a problem like the A's arm barn?

... how do you catch a clown and... have them pitch effectively in relief!? The 2021 Oakland Athletics were a two week arm barn catastrophe away from potentially rolling right down into a deep playoff run. Fixing that situation seems important. We all know there are little monies available for them to do that. So creativity is a must here, and other more solid elements of the team may need to be sacrificed.

For those who are thinking to themselves, "I expect the A's to tear-down their roster. Why even bother?" Well for starters this hypothetical helps my baseball withdrawals. Second, the A's can't intentionally tank in the Coliseum, so they'll at least have to try and pretend to fix their arm barn. Third, the Mariners went into 2021 rebuilding and, with some minor league reliever signings, won 90 games when they most certainly should not have. I'm not going to try and find the next Seawald, but one can try to fix the A's situation to a more respectable 3-4 fWAR output.

Lets start by looking at the 2021 arm barn, min. 20 IP, with my cherry-picked statistical categories.

I listed "fWAR" because I couldn't think of anything better, SIERA because it's better than ERA & xFIP, K/9 and hard hit %. The later because I believe that is the latest market inefficiency. High K% relievers are in demand, so other than Rosenthal, the A's have shied away from making financial commitments to those relievers on the open market. In the Coliseum, this soft contact experiment has merits, but the 2021 A's showed you can't have an arm barn build entirely around that. In September, when pitchers grow weary, the soft contact specialists just can't throw their way out of a jam. An inch or two lost on control could mean disaster.

Player Name fWAR SIERA Hard hit % K/9
Trivino, Lou 0.6 4.36 33.7% 8.2
Chafin, Andrew 0.5 3.72 31.7% 8.3
Guerra, Deolis 0.4 4.01 33.9% 8.5
Wendelken, JB 0.3 4.31 35.9% 9.3
Romo, Sergio 0.2 3.98 29.3% 8.7
Smith, Burch 0.1 4.74 41% 5.8
Petit, Yusmeiro 0 4.99 23.3% 4.2
Diekman, Jake
-0.1 3.65 39.7% 12.3
Rosenthal, Trevor
0 0 0 0

This A's team was 26th in RP fWAR, 29th in K/9 but 4th in BB/9. They were 3rd in Hard Hit %, 15th in barrels and 7th in average EV. This is not great but the failings are obvious. Find more high K relievers. Like... Trevor Rosenthal.

In 2020, T. Rosenthal had a 14.45 K/9, 2.31 SIERA & 0.8 fWAR. Is there another type of player available on the market now? Knebel & Iglesias were similar talents who both signed deals elsewhere. The next tier of relievers tops out at the 0.6 proj. range (Diekman, Urena, McHugh, Kuhl, Tepera). Of course, the A's do not have much money to spend no matter what, even if they have been in a multi-year pattern of filling out key reliever roles in free agency. Outside of a trade situation, the A's probably lack the resources to make a flashy reliever move. It would be highly uncharacteristic for the A's to not spend some money on someone however.

The 2022 Oakland Athletics arm barn, as it stands, is projected for about 2 fWAR. My task is to double that. 4 fWAR would have been good enough for 12th last year, better than WS Champion Atlanta. I went through BTV the previous few months, trying to turn either C. Bassitt or S. Manaea into a controllable reliever who will also yield about 0.6-0.8 fWAR as soon as 2022.

So this is my final output, the A's spend about $ 15 M on an arm barn worthy of a contender:

Player Name '22 fWAR
'22 K/9
Graterol, Brusdar
Puk, AJ
0.6 9.1
McHugh, Colin
Acevedo, Domingo
0.4 9.7
Jimenez, Dany
0.4 11.4
Colome, Alex
Petit, Yusmerio
Trivino, Lou 0.2
Guerra, Deolis 0.2 9.4

Now this does assume the A's can squeeze 0.4 fWAR out of: S. Moll, G. Holmes, A. Kolerek, M. Romero, P. Blackburn, W. Charles, A. Brown, J. Grimm. In this situation, the A's make their rotation a little worse to make their overall team a little better for now and the future. Assuming the A's can find 1 fWAR on the FA market in their usual crafty way, it's enough to be mid tier (13-17th) overall in SP fWAR for 2022.

So how would you fix the A's arm barn? Who do you think will underwhelm, or who will break out? Who would you like to see the A's target in the inevitable trades to come? It's the lockout, so there aren't many wrong answers but instead conversation starters. Thank you for reading and go Aviators !