The Oakland Athletics made another low-risk signing, bringing on right-handed pitcher Drew Rucinski to a 1-year, $3 million dollar major-league deal with a $5 million club option for 2024.
Rucinski (ruh-chin-skee) returns back to the U.S. after four years of pitching in South Korea, where he seemed to unlock something. Before heading overseas, Rucinski pitched in 41 games over four years between the Angels, Twins, and Marlins, with all but one of those coming out of the bullpen. His most experience came in 2018 when he appeared in 32 games for Miami and had a 4.33 ERA. He was bullpen depth and not much else.
Then he went to Asia and pitched for four seasons and made over 30 starts a year over that time. He was always consistent, but he had his best year this past season when he pitched to a 2.97 ERA over 193 ⅔ innings with a 24.3% strikeout rate. Not bad.
He’s no spring chicken as he’ll be 34 years old when camp opens, but Oakland must have seen something they liked and swooped in. He’s not going to blow away hitters, but the Coliseum might help him play up back in the majors. We’ve seen players come back from Korea and thrive, with the most recent example being Chris Flexen in Seattle.
The money commitment probably means the team is going to at least give him a chance to make the starting rotation but he can always fall back to the bullpen, which is just about as wide open as the starting staff. And if he does thrive as a starter, the club option allows Oakland to possibly bring him back or get more out of a trade if a team is interested.
To make room for Rucinski, the A’s designated Zach Logue for assignment. It was only one year ago that Logue was part of the return for Matt Chapman, but a disastrous first year with Oakland and a ton of young starting options made him the odd man out. We’ll see if another team makes a claim, but the A’s will be hoping to retain him. He had some decent moments last year and could be a lefty option out of the ‘pen if he sticks around. That trade is looking worse by the day, though. The payroll now stands at $54MM.
Overall, this is exactly the kind of deal the A’s need to be making: low-risk, medium-high reward.